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So I saw Zombieland. It was hilarious and adorable and awesome but horrifyingly more gory than I expected it to be. Which, it struck me, is exactly how I would expect the zombie apocalypse to be in real life. A horrifying version of normal life.

So in the car ride home, Jon and Jerome and I started trying to determine the source of the "viral" zombie, as it seems to have come out of nowhere. The old-fashioned zombie, the one we all knew growing up, was the cursed dead back from the grave. Which I think my only exposure to was the Simpsons Treehouse of Horror III, and the fact I remembered the number off the top of my head is rather odd, considering I only remember the zombies and none of the plot. Anyway. So in the 90s zombies were still culturally the "undead", right? So, we wondered, where did these apocalyptic stories come from?

I did some research (Wikipedia) and what I can seem to determine is that though the term zombie grew out of sheer numbers into a genre, all the first zombie media had little in common. Night of the Living Dead being the first "hit", it had back-from-the-dead "ghouls" that ate human flesh. But earlier things labeled with "zombies" were straight up voodoo stories (sometimes not even dead but just bewitched and therefore mindless drones), or Lovecraftian horror films, or even alien films. Also, there is an interesting tie to Frankenstein and vampire tales, which apparently both stem from Germanic tales of the undead, which is interesting considering the precursor to the modern "virus zombie", the "undead zombie", was based off of I Am Legend (the original book)'s spread-by-disease-mutated-vampires.

So, there is a lull in zombie pop culture in the 80s except for the Asian underground film attraction to it which is interesting considering they used them as warrior army thralls, which I find fascinating considering the modern Asian army stereotype of the terra cotta army. Completely fascinating ties; zombies seem to come from so many sources, and yet, have little unifying description!

Anyway, so the modern zombies didn't seem to come about popularly until 2002 when both Resident Evil and 28 Days Later were released. Which seem to come out of NOWHERE. I can't find anything to make the jump into these apocalyptic fictions. Some zombie lit gained popularity in the 90s, but nothing outstanding that seems to have lead the way for these movies. I mean, maybe the King novel (Cell?) but I am lost as to how that led to the EXPLOSION of the "new zombie" genre.

WHICH, and here is my main point, if you asked the modern person to explain a zombie to you, it seems to me you get two descriptions: "old-fashioned quote-unquote 'slow'" zombies and "modern apocalyptic 'fast'" zombies. How can a definitive cultural icon--the fast, modern zombie--be around for only seven-ish years and SO MUCH DEFINE A GENRE? A HORROR FILM ICON? This is completely unfathomable to me, and hence, I find it fascinating.

On a completely different type of fascinating, the fact that my once and only panic attack involved zombies, before I knew what a modern zombie was, and that Becky Belknap thought I was "a weirdo" who was obsessed with zombies (this being before I knew what a modern zombie was and hence had no outstanding interest in the zombie/horror genre) simply from a comment saying "I'm so tired I feel like a zombie". This is facsinating because my whole life I have never been attached to any horror genre and I dislike gore to the extreme, but the new survivalist popularity of the genre has completely hooked me. I obsessed over survival tactics when I was little. I read My Side of the Mountain and dreamed of running away so I could live in the woods. (That is to say, day-dreamed. Very different than my actual sleep-dreaming. Of which tonight I will probably have very violent or escapist ones, though still no sign of nightmares.)

ANYWAY. On top of all that I have discovered that unique typography is completely awesome. The Ethiopian sarcasm mark is rather saddening in that it looks like the Spanish inverted exclamation point, BUT in even better news the French have a "secondary level of understanding" mark for sarcasm or irony, a backwards question mark, which is amazing. Except that sometimes I think sarcasm is best left its facade, because it separates the over-serious from those with a sense of understanding or a sense of humor.

Though the French came up with a lot of weird marks. Authority, rhetorical questions, love accents, et cetera?! Oh, you, French.

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mercat

November 2015

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