Sunday, September 14, 2014

Zombies in the News

I don't know that zombies will show up in the news enough for this to become a sustainable feature, but I noticed a couple blurbs this week that I felt were worth commenting on. Before I get to that though, remember when that naked guy ate that homeless guy's face?

This all comes back to the damn meatloaf zombie face (I'm gonna make one). You talk about face-eating and bath salts on a zombie blog, and you have to bring up the "Miami Zombie" attack. Quick question, when you first heard about this story in 2012, what was the first thing that crossed your mind? Zombies? It was, wasn't it. Not cannibal. Zombies. Which, kind of highlights our cultural obsession with flesh eating dead people. My instinct was to argue that at any other time in history, this would have only been referred to as a cannibal attack (and to be fair, the attacker was also referred to as the Causeway Cannibal in the rush to brand this story), but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that depending on when in history it happened, the attack could have, and probably would have, been framed in terms of any number of "monsters": vampires, werewolves, ogres, demons, and so on. However, because the zombie is our current
bogeyman par excellence, that was how most of us made sense of it. Well, that and the fact that it took four bullets to put the attacker down. But I would argue that even those of us that only thought of the attack as cannibalism and not the first step of the end of the world, had been conditioned to think of it that way, not by the dictionary definition of cannibalism but by the most well-known flesh-eating monster before the zombie renaissance, Hannibal Lecter (and probably not, interestingly enough, real-life cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer). 
Of course, this is hardly the first time that people have turned to their horror stories (though they were usually considered fairy tales or folklore then) in an effort to make sense of seemingly inexplicable real-world atrocities. In 1582, an otherwise normal and respected widower, Peter Stubbe, terrorized the women and children of his village with a string of cannibalistic murders as staggeringly brutal and horrific as anything you've ever heard or read or thought about. They did not call him a cannibal, though, and they certainly didn't call him a zombie: they called him the Werewolf of Bedburg. Fair warning on that link, from the page itself: The extreme cruelty of the crimes in this case, detailed [within], are highly disturbing and not for the squeamish, faint-of-heart, or young children. 

Not only does horror reflect the uncertainties and anxieties felt within any culture, then, it would seem that tales of monsters and bogeymen also serve to shape our understanding of those events that exceed the parameters we have set on reality. Which makes sense; when something happens that can't be explained away by anything you know or expect of the world, how else would you account for it but by turning fiction (whether that means taking meaning from existing stories, or creating new ones)? 

Oh, right. We were here for zombie news. The day after the
Poppo has refused further reconstructive surgery
zombie meatloaf face, I got real curious about whatever happened to Ronald Poppo, the homeless victim of Rudy Eugene's unprovoked and savage attack in Miami. I am happy to report that he seems to be doing surprisingly well. Although left blind and badly scarred, Poppo has put on 50 lbs since the attack and, with the help of an occupational therapist, has learned how to shave, shower, and dress himself. He spends most of his time playing his guitar and listening to Miami Heat games on the radio. 

As for Eugene, toxicology reports found only traces of marijuana in his system (no bath salts!), and no explanation has been identified for his apparent psychotic break. 

In other zombie news: It's all fun and games until you get shot in the face. This crazy person was arrested in Oregon earlier this week for "breaking into a house, pushing a woman down the stairs, pulling her hair, biting her on the face, and saying that she was playing 'the zombie game.'

I just don't get it, people. I started this blog with the question, and I still have no answer: Why does everyone want to be the zombie? Zombies break into houses (yay, fun!), zombies bite people (...), then zombies get shot and re-killed (see above). Awesome. Sign me up? I get that some of the zombie survivalists are, umm, pretty interesting individuals, but is biting strangers that much more enjoyable than stockpiling weapons and non-perishables? 

If you are going to play a "zombie game" why not play one where you start out uninfected? From the Reasons Spain is Awesome file, 2,000 people descend on Collada Villalba to play a much cooler game, called Survivor Zombie, by World Real Games. Check out this video of an earlier "edicion" of the game from last March 

A game where the goal is NOT to become a zombie? Sweet, sounds like good practice. I'm packed, when do we leave?

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