- O HAI THERE!
It’s funny: ever since I did a zombie reading map for library school, I sort of got branded as “the zombie guy”. Horror was a genre that I was somewhat interested in before (mostly movies, though) but I wasn’t a huge zombie fan until I put together that project (a link can be found on my portfolio page). Of course, I was a fan of The Walking Dead, though more for the post-apocalyptic and dramatic character stuff than the actual zombies (though I did like it better once things picked up after the slow second season).
This recent article on why zombies are good for libraries got me thinking more about why I like the genre so much. To begin, I am actually more interested in the apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic aspects of the genre than the zombies themselves. It’s interesting to put yourself in the characters’ shoes and ask yourself “What would I do?” in such an event, whether it’s brought about by zombies, infectious diseases, aliens (I admit, I’m not a big fan of alien stuff for some reason), natural disasters, nuclear war, and so on. It’s sort of an interesting thought experiment on what would happen to society, what would certain individuals do when pushed to their limits? I think in these kinds of stories/scenarios, you really get to see what people are all about and only in the worst-case scenarios do people’s true character come out.
The zombie genre itself also lends well to various subjects and media. For example, your typical infectious-zombie-virus scenario involves aspects of virology and epidemiology, survival techniques, re-adapting to old ways of life/loss of technology, recreating some kind of civilization, etc. Plus, the zombie-disease scenario is at least a little more plausible than some magical rising of the long-dead. Furthermore, the genre adapts well to all kinds of media, whether it’s traditional books, videogames (you can fight zombies, or start a zombie epidemic, depending on the game), audiobooks or plays, tv shows and movies, comics/graphic novels, etc. It also lends well to non-fiction sources, such as survivalist books and websites, providing entertaining scenarios for emergency preparedness education or public health campaigns, and has been used to pep up certain government or scholarly reports and exercises.
Of course, aside from the interesting layers of character development, plot, and so on–you have the actual, terrifying element of the zombies themselves (and almost terrifying is the infection, particularly at the beginning when people are still trying to figure out what the disease is). A good scare can be thrilling and entertaining. I’m kind of boring, so I don’t do any hazardous sports or whatnot; my thrill comes from watching a scary movie or reading a scary movie and having some terrifying but kinda fun nightmares (although I am mostly a lucid or semi-lucid dreamer, so I usually know that I’m dreaming or come up with some weird way out of a bad situation in my dreams, so your mileage may vary). The newer, faster zombies like those seen in the 28 Days Later franchise are even more terrifying (and exciting) because you can’t just outsmart them, you also have to be able to outrun them! Everyone needs a little good scare every now and then, it’s good for you I swear 😀
Besides, everybody knows that zombies are way cooler than stupid vampires or werewolves 😉