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Dear Content Creators

  Dear Content Creators:

  Let’s fucking cool it with the zombies, shall we? For as much as people bemoan the “sexification” of vampires (despite the fact that those particular beasts always had a strong “sexualized” streak in just about every fiction created post-19th century), the ubiquity of hordes of brain-dead flesh-eating former humans has caused the entire mass to shift from “scary” to “annoying”.

  So, please: just fucking stop.

  They have brought nothing new in the last decade-and-some-change since 28 Days Later gave them nitrous upgrades and a disgusting propensity for puking blood. Their endless fictional onslaught has given us a glut of stories that ultimately tell the same bullshit, quasi-intellectual moralistic fable: that man is the real monster! And sometimes, this works, especially when the tale—intentionally or not—speaks to a focused truth, rather than a general “mankind kind of sucks”. I mean that, while perhaps unintentional, The Night of the Living Dead’s use of race to tell a larger moral is sadly the exception rather than the rule.

  Yes, mankind does do shitty things. And when chips are down, some people are going to end up being shitty. But do we need an infinite number of games, books, and movies that beat on about literally the same point? Where’s the subversion? Where’s the self-awareness? We’ve reached the point when mockery should take place, but nothing really substantially has. Just flaccid “let’s put dead people in Jane Austin books aren’t we so clever” books that are more shtick than substance. When something does put together a coherent counterpoint—say, Warm Bodies—it is met with a tepid acceptance, but pushed aside for yet another episode of The Walking Dead, which should be renamed Unlikable Dickheads Die Gorily.

  For all the supposed signs of what many bemoan would be our culture’s decadence, the zombie genre’s festering unkillability is perhaps the most obvious. After all, if man is the real monster (!), then what fucking point is there in bothering with it? If 75% of the people you met will become cannibalistic pedophile murdering rape-bandits, why get to know them? Why save them? Better to burn it down and start over, right?

  If stories are written for a purpose, zombie stories are written to confirm that which we secretly fear about our neighbors. Many won’t survive—they aren’t smart enough, healthy enough, wealthy enough, human enough to survive the initial wave of infection. Those that do will be killers or killed—the attempts at rebuilding are as pointless as they are boring, because someone will show weakness.

  They’ll hide a bite victim.

  They’ll give the wrong person food.

  They’ll hand a stranger a gun.

  They’ll, you know, be human. Be compassionate. Show that the world is worth saving.

  And they will die as punishment for that lapse in “logic”.

  Why the hell is this something we want? Why the hell is this something that we can’t get enough of? Why the fucking hell is this something that we apparently crave, to the point where the stories don’t even change in any way except involving a slightly different dirty band of (mostly white) people? Do we hate our children that much that we fantasize about a world turned into a burning hellscape for them? Do we loathe our jobs to the point where imagining putting bullets in our former friends’ heads is the preferable alternative to focusing on task? Is our political position so precarious that the best option is to, as stated, burn it to the ground?

  Maybe this is emblematic of generalized, community-wide misplaced angst. It isn’t hard to imagine most zombie fiction being pulled from some scared, lonely, and desperately angry teenager’s journal. Think about it: that moralistic claptrap that zombie fiction tends to conglomerate under (man is the real blah de blah) is that kind of general listless fury of a hormonal youth. “I hate everyone,” they say with the world weariness of a war veteran. “No one gets me.”

  But just like that angst-ridden teen, most people who devour zombie fiction and fantasize about jamming a screwdriver through their brother-in-law’s stupid face are mere hyperbolists, engaging in a be-all-end-all discourse that belies their lived experience. Sure, there’s the stark reality that squats over this whole conversation: that without the Internet to help, you’re dead in a year. The larger point I’m getting at is that you’d miss the conveniences. You’d miss days not being spent terrified in a puddle of your own urine because a hordelette of the undead is camped outside of a locker you took a nap in.

  And you’d miss people.

  Yes, even that jackass who cut you off in traffic.

  You’d miss him most of all.

  Because he made you feel something.

  The people who say “I hate everyone” or similar generalizations (typically along with the practiced sigh belying a person terrified of being utterly devoid of personality) do so with a massive asterisk appended at the end. It’s implied that one doesn’t actually hate everyone. If they did, we would never interact with them because of the potential risk of homicide. Humanity has a knack for bonding and sacrifice. It’s kind of how we got this whole civilization thing started. And if the world goes down, unless we’re dealing with extinction, people will be putting that shit back together.

  And you know what? They should. The civilization might not look like it does now, nor would it be something we wouldn’t have problems with, but it would be there, in spite of everything.

  And that’s why I’m just so. Fucking. SICK of all this fucking zombie bullshit.

  Most of what’s produced is boring and trite. “Oh, the zombies are the faceless masses! They’re okay to kill because they represent what we fear about us!” So the fuck what? All monsters—be they slashers, werewolves, vampires, or goddamn kobolds—do that, you fucking lightweight. And zombies are never the goddamn star of whatever they’re in, are they? Remember, man is the real gobbledygook! They’re just in there so there can be blood and tacky violence in our stupid drama about people arguing over canned beans.

  And even at its most intellectual, it’s still boring. It seems that all it really aspires to be is an intensely reactionary piece of “survival of the fittest” social Darwinistic claptrap:

  Trust is weakness. Humanity will get you killed. Sympathy gets others literally gutted by the ravenous, faceless hordes. Other people are resources—means rather than ends. Unless they’re your people—the group who you have paternalistically deemed to be your charge, like you’re fucking Richard the Lionheart. Only look out for yourself. All strangers are inherently evil.

  It’s the whinging, self-important, “logic is all” dogma that relegates humanity to cold ones and zeroes. Even when emotion happens, it’s all filtered through the cold haze of logic.

  Christ almighty, is this what we’ve come to? Slurping up retread after retread which just confirms what we already want to believe? That people are shit?

  Even in games, zombies are ridiculous. Unless it is self-aware and reveling in the weirdness of it all, like the Dead Rising series, the world is never really worth saving. Resident Evil’s Umbrella Corporation and its ilk are constantly creating world-ending viruses for no clear reason. Why would anyone want to save a planet whose primary species is so bent of self-destruction?

  The Last of Us gives us a reminder that life is shit before, during, and after the outbreak of fungal-zombie-itis, and nearly every story beat reinforces that no one and nothing is worth saving. Guy and his kid brother trying to meet up with the resistance? Fuck you, kid, turn into a mushroom beast! Ha, fuck your stupid hope! Hope your last few minutes as a human were worth forcing your brother to shoot you in the head before doing the same to himself!

  The Walking Dead game has a sequence where I dropped a survivor and let him get devoured because he made the mistake of constantly fucking up by being a dumb kid. I felt guilty-ish, but I justified it. He needed to die. For the safety of the group. Who cares if he was eaten alive because of me? He didn’t become “stone cold killer” fast enough for my liking.

  Look, zombies had a good-ish run, I suppose. But you’re not doing anything with them. You’re telling the same fucking story the same fucking way, and it’s pointless. Stop with this nihilistic, humanity-isn’t-worth-saving-let’s-start-over garbage and give your audience something new. You can play with your zombies if they do more than provide background noise to your poorly written drama about people covered in filth being angry at each other, I suppose, but fucking earn it.

Jonathan

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