Monday, June 22, 2009

Zombies and Liberal Politics

Paul Waldman writes in The American Prospect that the emergence of the zombie as a cultural meme is a reflection of progressive/liberal politics:

While one can certainly use zombies to express all kinds of ideas, I would argue that at heart, the genre is a progressive one. It's true that fighting off the zombie horde requires plentiful firearms, no doubt pleasing Second Amendment advocates. And in a zombie movie, government tends to be either ineffectual or completely absent. On the other hand, when the zombie apocalypse comes, capitalism breaks down, too -- people aren't going to be exchanging money for goods and services; they're just going to break into the hardware store and grab what they need (and if you think your private health insurer is going to be paying claims for treatment of zombie bites, you're living in a dream world). But most important, what ensures survival in a zombie story are the progressive ideals of common cause and collective action. A small group of people from varying backgrounds are thrust together and find that they can transcend their differences of age, race, and gender (the typical band of survivors is a veritable United Nations of cultural diversity). They come to understand that if they're going to get out of this with their brains kept securely housed in their skulls and not travelling down some zombie's gullet, they've got to act as though they're all in it together. Surviving the tide of zombies requires community and mutual responsibility. What could be more progressive than that?

It's an interesting notion. But I would add that two central elements in the politics of the Right are the notions that (1) the individual must ultimately fend for him/herself and (2) there are threats that one cannot negotiate with, but must simply kill. These are also features of most zombie narratives that I have encountered.

HT: Hit & Run

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