Tuesday, September 9, 2014

And Now I Want to Eat a Zombie's Face...

Right, so most of my friends kinda think of me as "The Zombie Guy" (can you blame them?). This means all manner of zombie related amazingness makes its way to my phone and inbox. From my friend Sarah, by way of fabulesslyfrugal.com, is this awesome and horrifying bacon onion meatloaf zombie face. I want to bite it.

Which brings me to uncanny dread...

This meatloaf made me feel two things: hungry and uncomfortable. The first is obvious and readily explained by the fact that I haven't eaten in a while and I like bacon and meatloaf. The second is a little more tricky, but at its core is Freud's idea of the uncanny, something familiar rendered strange (a gross oversimplification of one of the handful of things that Freud seems to have gotten right). Clearly, on the surface level, what this recipe produces is an everyday meatloaf rendered strange. Indeed, that's the whole point. Typically, ours is a culture (I went back and forth over the term American culture there, but it felt both too ambiguous to carry real meaning, and at the same time a little irresponsible to throw around; what I’m getting at is that a great many of us are pampered and removed from the process of turning an animal into food) that doesn’t enjoy thinking of its food as having a face. It’s a little unsettling to have your meatloaf stare back at you with dead unblinking garlic eyes. However, if we scrape and peel a little bit, I think we’ll find that there is a little more at play here.

For one thing, the zombie figure itself is presented quite differently than we are accustomed to: as something to be bitten, chewed, consumed. Zombie meatloaf inverts the (un)natural role of the zombie as the render and consumer of flesh. By positing the zombie as the flesh to be eaten (shudder, gross, yuck), Fabulessly Frugal has resituated the human within its sometimes forgotten animality. We too spill blood. We too tear flesh. We too disembody. While, for the most part, we live in a society that has removed these events from our presence, we (vegetarians aside) are still a species that survives by ingesting dead flesh. Well when you put it like that…

Zombie bacon meatloaf is unsettling for many of the same reasons that so much zombie fiction is horrifying: it re-presents certain very human traits through a grotesque and uncanny lens. Zombies are scary for the many ways that they are not like us. But they are perhaps more frightening because of their subtle similarities, their strange familiarity – the way they kind of look like us, move like us, are a insatiable mindless hoard like us (on the level of species, it could be credibly claimed that we are a voracious parasite, or a pestilent virus; this last was done quite well in The Matrix). 

Which is all well and good. I'm still gonna eat that zombie's face like I'm on bath salts...


  1. I really like the deconstruction here of why potentially eating a zombie meatloaf face represents an uncanny moment--that is the reversal of the (un)natural order of zombie hunter and hunted. But this raises the question. Why does eating a zombie freak us out. As you mention, we eat other dead things, so why is eating a zombie super-gross? Is it that we can eat a once dead thing but not a twice dead thing? Is it the fear of bodily contagion, that is that zombies are an unclean kind of meat?

    It is also interesting that at least in the Romero films, part of what is so unsettling is the body rendered grotesque in various ways--grotesque in the sense of the body that is human/not-human, but also grotesque insofar as it is also the body rendered into meat. If we think of the scenes with the zombies feasting on entrails, etc. what is it about this that is so unsettling for us? Is it, in that cliched sense, a reminder that we may not actually be at the top of the food chain? We know that the body can be preyed upon by other living creatures in death--this is part of why cultures have funerary rituals--but what it is it about a zombie feasting on the body that unnerves us?

  2. Came across this today-

    1. Wow. That's so messed up...

      But can I get bacon on that?