I'm not really all that mysterious

Zombies and Othering

Imagining a grim meathook dystopian science fiction story where some terrible virus causes people to shuffle along like zombies and not be able to talk and generally be out of it, but they aren’t actually undead, they’re just sick.

The people who are unaffected panic anyway and slaughter them by the millions, convinced they’re really zombies and not actually just people infected by a terrible disease.

The governments encourage it because who wants to foot the medical bill?

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Let’s also say that they—like a lot of people with altered mental status—get violent when you try to subdue them or otherwise interfere with their movements.

And they mostly look and smell like they’ve been on the street for awhile and are mumbling to themselves and don’t have any regard for your personal space.

Turns out there is already a book based on a similar premise, where the zombies are still people, not mindless undead (h/t Katy S)

Contemporary zombies—much like vampires before them—seem to hearken to a xenophobic instinct (and to a fear of contagion).

The zombie apocalypse is basically libertarian/survivalist (and xenophobe) ruin porn.

Which makes Junot Díaz’s post linking to an Atlantic article about zombies quite synchronous:

The Tragic, Forgotten History of Zombies • The horror-movie trope owes its heritage to Haitian slaves, who imagined being imprisoned in their bodies forever. • 2015 Oct 28 • Mike Mariani • The Atlantic

Hence a bitter irony between the Haitian zombie and its American counterpart. The monster once represented the real-life horrors of dehumanization; now it’s used as a way to fantasize about human beings whose every decision is exalted. While it’s difficult to begrudge the storytelling logic of wiping out the many to restore meaning and importance to the few, it’s still worth acknowledging the bleak asymmetry of the zombie then and the zombie now. The original emerged in a context where humans were denied control of their own bodies and sought death as an escape. And now in pop culture, the zombie has come to serve as the primary symbol of escapism itself—where the fictional enslavement of some provides a perverse kind of freedom for everyone else.

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