Friday, May 18, 2007

A Study In Unpreparedness

This marks my second entry in The Misunderstood Blog-a-Thon over at Culture Snob.

Want to know how well the United States will deal with Bird Flu? Small Pox? A dirty nuke?

Watch a zombie movie. Watch Dawn Of The Dead. Day Of The Dead. Return Of The Living Dead. Or better yet, the recent 28 Weeks Later. These are not horror movies, these are testimonies to our state of preparedness when disaster strikes.

While we don't always know how zombies come alive, we know how they spread. From a virus. A fast spreading virus. An epidemic of epic proportions. Yes, we have had 9/11 and as a result we have created Homeland Security to deal with worst case scenarios. And that's supposed to help us sleep better at night, but watch 28 Weeks Later and see just how far we have our thumbs up our asses when the shit hits the fan. A woman that is a known carrier of the Rage virus is left unguarded for her husband to come in, kiss her on the lips and become infected. When the military knows there is an outbreak, they shut the electricity off, making it nearly impossible to tell the difference between the innocent and those infected. In Day Of The Dead the military is left in charge and quickly eases into the role of dictator. Suddenly, any kind of civility is thrown out the window and most of them don't hesitate to threaten death with no thought towards the already dwindling population.

The ultimate message of every zombie movie is that we should be just as scared of ourselves as we are of the monsters. That message if none more clear than in Night Of The Living Dead as locals take great delight in re-killing the undead. In Return Of The Living Dead, a military general does not debate the casualties of a missile taking out a large part of town in order to get rid of a few zombies. In 28 Weeks Later, lives are compromised as London is carpet-bombed only moments after an outbreak of the Rage virus. When disaster breaks, we are motivated by testosterone and not brain cells. Judgement looses and fear wins. Thinkers are soon enough put down and it's the shoot first and ask questions later guys that live to tell the tale. And suddenly, our advanced society doesn't seem so advanced anymore. And that's when the line between living and undead starts to get pretty fuzzy.

The truth is, we can try to think about the unthinkable all we want. To hope for the best, and prepare for the worst. But when trouble hits, we are simply unprepared because we have not accounted for the scariest part of any scenario. Ourselves.


12XU said...

I was a bit bothered in 28 WEEKS LATER about the lack of bicycles. If zombies or infectees were chasing me, I would find a bicycle and hop on that. It would be a much faster getaway than running on foot.

PIPER said...

I was just bothered by it because it seemed to be a movie without soul.

That my one sentence review of it. Skip it.

Neil Sarver said...

I don't mean to complain, because anything that gets people to watch more zombie movies is a happy thing, but I'm a little confused about the misunderstood part. Didn't everyone already understand that?

PIPER said...


I don't know, I thought I stumbled onto something profound there. Maybe I'm slow.

As I was watching 28 Days Later it just seemed that we focus so much on getting rid of the cause that we don't focus on ourselves.

It seemed like a good parallel... jeez Neil. I really thought I had something there.

Okay, okay I'm obvious. Damn.

Did you like my Cronenberg piece?

Sheamus the... said...

i stole that 28 weeks poster from my work...i got in was worth it.

PIPER said...

Okay, I've been thinking about this more and Neil is right.

It just felt appropriate that we have things set up like Homeland Security where we are supposed to be protected by the government. But who's going to protect us from the government? It seemed more appropriate now because of the Bird Flu scare and while there have been zombie movies forever, there hasn't always been this establishment that's supposed to protect you. It felt like something, but maybe not.

What 28 Weeks Later really is is a commentary on how Great Britain should sever all ally ties with the United States.

It paints a picture of the US coming in to help, but then being incompetent and helping spread the virus more. It's pretty curious that there really seems to be no English troops at all in this movie.

Anonymous said...

I disagree with Neil that disaster-preparedness is a well-understood component of zombie movies. Yes, it's an obvious theme, but we don't pay much attention to it, or take it very seriously, or relate it to our world.

For some reason, we're always looking for metaphors in horror movies -- Romero's Dawn of the Dead is about consumerism, Day of the Dead is about militarism, vampire movies are really about __________, etc. -- and we neglect the themes on the surface.

PIPER said...

To me the message is more relevant today than it used to be because we have so many things in place today that are supposed to protect us and the truth is, we're not any more prepared.