Monday, 8 April 2013

Zombies and Why Art Matters

            The media is all a-twitter about zombies. Golly gee whiz – why do we love them so much? The Evil Dead movie doesn’t even have to be watchable, it will get 65% on Rotten Tomatoes and still be sold out. The Walking Dead is the hottest new series on TV and people are addicted. What’s going on? What can account for this mildly shocking, yet thoroughly entertaining and discussable, cultural trend?
            Well let the critical voices be silent; I am in possession of the answer.
            We love zombies because we are zombies.
            Zombies, as I understand it (and my knowledge is probably faulty) are beings that can walk around and, it seems -- according to some movies -- (Warm Bodies for instance) even fall in love, and have sex. But there is one tiny problem. Their brains are dead.
            Yeah. Just like us.
            I say this because ya know, there was a time when people read books and went to see movies (outside the house!) and attended something called ‘the theatre.’ And people were (I know it’s scary to think about, but not in a zombie way) sometimes challenged by what they read or saw.
            Once, there were things called ‘bookstores.’ Does anyone remember them? Books were things that people would read (often in the bathtub) and discussed with their friends. It was archaic, I know, people would actually say to themselves ‘Hey I’ve only got about 20 pages of Ulysses left!’ as they plowed on to the end. Also, people used to go to ‘plays.’ Yes, plays -- not megamusicals. The weird thing about ‘plays’ was that no one sang songs in them (you know, songs, where the whole cast of poor, struggling, attractive youths – usually in either Paris or New York, and usually dying of AIDS or Tuberculosis -- stand together and belt out something that makes you cry about people worse off than you?). No…a  ‘play’ had no songs. There was something called a ‘plot,’ and there were ‘ideas,’ and ‘wit’ and…I know. I know….I’m confusing you. And when it came to movies well – the movies (believe it or not) also had ‘plots’ and ‘ideas.’
            (I’m sorry, I don’t mean to stress you out with all this….)
            Nowadays it’s different. If you go to Broadway you have a number of choices. Let’s see, should I see a revival of The Lion King, or Mamma Mia? Or maybe The Phantom of the Opera? Oh dear me, which revival will it be?
            And movies are made the way capitalism and the internet have taught us to make everything: find out what the consumer is buying and sell it. There are six categories of movies these days   --
1. Horror (the zombies are attacking -- Ahhk! Eesh!)
2. Science Fiction (the aliens are attacking -- Eeesh Ork!)
3. Thriller (Will he kill her?)
4.  Romance  (Will her marry her?)  N.B. These are usually ‘women’s movies, ‘ but
            don’t worry, women have the vote now and some of them are pretty pushy:they usually can
            get their man to come!)
5. Action (Car races with another car; car crashes and burns up!)
6. ‘Tween   (Harry Potter, Twilight, Hunger Games, The Host)
            Nowadays movies are released at two times of the year: Oscar Time, which begins in December and stretches until March, and Summer Time, which begins in April and stretches until October. (Occasionally in November they accidentally release movies with characters, plots and ideas, but don’t worry cuz nobody watches them!)  And nowadays you don’t even have to look at a trailer that’s not almost identical to the movie you are seeing. If you’re at a thriller you will see nothing but thriller trailers. And no romantic trailers will ever bother you -- unless you’re trying to get a little free nookie with your girlf at a romance movie.
            Do you think I’m being sarcastic here?
            Stupid, pessimistic old movies and books like Farenheit 451 and Brave New World predicted book burnings and federally injected drugs and a Fascist government that forces people to stop thinking.
            But that’s not how it happened. We live in a free country. But the ‘free’ internet won’t publish certain books (Thomas Waugh’s Lust Unearthed was recently censored by Apple) and most of us are on some form of prozac or other, and we just want more Iproducts -- more, more, more! And we would rather not think about something called ‘art’ because it might make us uncomfortable!
            Me, me, me! I want! I want stuff that will make me feel good -- not think!
            Welcome to our Zombie World!