Tonight I shuffled along with the hordes of humans piling into the theater to watch the latest Zombie movie: World War Z. I’m generally not a huge fan of Zombie movies or any scary movies full of grotesque demoniac faces. I’m sensitive to those negative energies and do not like to put them into me. I don’t like to close my eyes and see those menacing demoniac eyes staring back at me. However, like most of us, I am capable of enjoying a good zombie movie, which leads me to the subject of this blog post: why do we enjoy zombie movies? What is it about the Zombie Mythos that keeps us coming back again and again… and again… and again… relentlessly, like the un-dead themselves, to feast on the same old story-line? Can we extract some truth about the ultimate reality in which we live through stories of zombies? I think we can. As Socrates said, “know thyself.”
So as I watched WWZ tonight I kept asking myself, “what is it about this story that resonates with me?” If we can define what it is outside of ourselves that resonates within us, we learn about ourselves. In this manner, myth – even zombie myth – can be a teacher of truth. So let’s chew on this zombie mythos for a bit… (oh that’s bad)
In the skin of the onion I find the obvious: we are drawn to conflict, to firepower, explosive action, to stories of heroism and the admonition to never lose hope despite impossible odds. Life on this earth is a story of struggle. Although our modern accommodations afford us a comfortable life mostly free from beasties and gruesome deaths in the jaws of fearsome predatory creatures, our ancestors memories and fears live on within us. Zombie movies reacquaint us with dangers that have been realities for much of humanity.
Then there is the humor – the sadistic grotesque humor of seeing such fearsome and terrifying humanoid monsters act like bumbling idiots who can barely walk… who act like we do first thing in the morning… who get their limbs shot off and their heads smashed in. Nothing more satisfying than staring death in the face and laughing!
Sinking our teeth in a bit deeper, there is the apocalyptic theme which is so prevalent these days. Why do we crave stories about the end of the world? I think many of us are so dissatisfied and bored with our present mundane existences – living for the weekends and grinding away at the mortgage -that we want to look forward to something in our future, something big and important, even if it is earth shattering carnage and destruction. A part of our oppressed psyche wants to see the hamster wheel smashed to bits even if it could mean our own demise. Perhaps we are already zombies seeking a blow to the head to free us from this half-alive state of existence. Not that existential threats are pure fantasy… We have lived under the dark shadow and fear of planetary extinction for all of human history. Our ancestors survived horrifying planetary extinction level events: asteroids, super-volcanoes, plagues, floods, etc. And in the modern technological and nuclear age, we can add a few more items to the list of very real existential threats. Zombie movies allow us to wargame apocalyptic scenarios that could actually be faced some day. Perhaps such wargaming could even save lives if one of the many existential threats were ever realized in our lifetimes. But could the zombie apocalypse ever actually happen? There are few things more revolting than humans eating humans. This a sign that the divine spark that makes us human has departed… yet this has happened throughout history during sieges and famines and in particular tribes where the light was very dim. But I think that a viral zombie apocalypse is highly unlikely. However, researchers have developed viruses that can target and lobotomize or possibly re-wire particular areas of the brain thereby altering behavior. I’m more worried this technology would be used to sedate us and make us unwilling to fight back against tyranny. And we’ve all seen what “bath salts” can do to people. Perhaps a virus or bacteria that targeted parts of the brain or produces the synthetic drugs in bath salts could actually create zombie-like behavior in it’s hosts, but I don’t think such a disease would have a chance to spread virally as in the movies – at least not in America where we all have plenty of guns and are well acquainted with zombie warfare!
Going a little deeper, I think the Zombie Mythos teaches us about our dual natures – we are both animals and spiritual beings. When the spirit departs, nothing but the animal remains. We can all recognize that we have baser instincts and lusts, but we also have higher desires and a higher consciousness that rules over our baser animal natures and our egotistical selves. We all struggle against our ego and our animal natures to ascend spiritually. The zombie apocalypse is a parable of the war that rages inside of us daily: to answer a higher calling and purpose and not simply to give in to what satisfies these momentary desires of the flesh. I thought it was interesting in WWZ that being terminally ill was the only protection against the zombies. As in life, those who are in the process of dying (to self or the ego) are the ones who ascend spiritually. In the zombie myth, virtue, love, sacrifice, family, community, hope, perseverance, and faith are cast into high relief against the hordes who have lost their humanity and their divine spark. If you’ve ever been around a wise and joyful person who has attained something of enlightenment, their eyes sparkle and there is a spring in their step. Zombies shuffle and their eyes are glazed over with no spark. Sometimes those of us who struggle harder than others around us to leave behind our animal natures and ascend spiritually feel isolated as though we alone have maintained our humanity – our divine spark – and are surrounded by a sea of zombies – unthinking masses who would turn on us in an instant if necessary. Sometimes we feel as if we send out repeated messages on the radio hoping there are others out there like us only to be disappointed to hear nothing but static in reply. The higher path is often a lonely one.
I also believe that zombie movies show us a physical reflection of a spiritual reality: demonic creatures, negative energy entities, evil spirits, the personifications of our fears of death, or whatever you want to call them. They are real. They exist. They do possess people on occasion. They howl. They distort people’s faces. They can be violent. They can exhibit superhuman strength. I don’t know what their origins are, but perhaps some of them are the deceased spirits of evil humans. They are quite literally, the un-dead. Zombie movies allow modern audiences who are stuck in the spiritual cognitive dissonance between the materialistic mainstream and their old-fashioned religious roots to interact with and conquer an artistic reflection of these negative energies which they don’t really believe in… too much… because… cuz… they’re… not really… not really real… right? That’s all been disproved by science… right?
Finally, I always look for the Illuminati’s messages in the top of the box office thrillers. In the age of the internet it should be no surprise to anyone that the world is partially ruled by elites who would like to rule it completely. One of their grandest hopes and dreams is that about 90% of us would suddenly die off. They are obsessed with population control because they are control freaks, and an apocalyptic scenario of any kind would be a dream come true. You might view them as the real zombies feeding on our flesh. These control freaks are the ones who run the UN, the WHO, and many national governments and corporations. In WWZ, we are fed a bit of pro-UN propaganda. In reality the UN and the WHO pose as our saviors while they are partially responsible for mass die-offs. Perhaps zombie movies play right into their hands by desensitizing us to mass killings and by programming us to accept our fate. WHO knows?
And that’s about all the sinews of truth I can torture out of a zombie movie for one night… Sweet dreams!