Saturday, January 27, 2007

We the Living Dead:The Convoluted Politics of Zombie Cinema

From Reason Magazine via
The zombiephiles—that odd cohort of nerds, video game addicts, and mullet-headed grindhouse nostalgists who have made the flesh-eating zombie a central figure of modern culture—know all about chewed kidneys, shambling ghouls, moldering flesh, barricaded doors, deserted streets, and the all-important bullet to the brain. But most of all, fans of the rich, vibrant zombie narrative of the late 20th and early 21st centuries know about politics.

Ever since George Romero’s genre-creating Night of the Living Dead in 1968, and especially since Romero’s overtly political 1978 masterpiece Dawn of the Dead, highbrow revolutionary theorizing has stalked this graveyard of lowbrow pleasures. In his 1979 study The American Nightmare: Essays on the Horror Film, the esteemed cineaste Robin Wood declared that the zombie’s cannibalism “represents the ultimate in possessiveness, hence the logical end of human relations under capitalism.” J. Hoberman and Jonathan Rosenbaum’s 1983 study Midnight Movies called Night of the Living Dead “a remarkable vision of the late sixties, offering the most literal possible depiction of America devouring itself.” In a later reappraisal, a Village Voice critic explained that “the zombie carnage seemed a grotesque echo of the conflict then raging in Vietnam.”



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