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"But you see, it's not me, it's not my family. In your head, in… - Oodles of doodles. [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Jesse Hamm

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[Jan. 10th, 2007|04:54 am]
Jesse Hamm
"But you see, it's not me, it's not my family.
In your head, in your head they are fighting..."


~Zombie, The Cranberries

Was thinking about zombie flicks today. What's their appeal? I'm no gorehound, and most zombie flicks are poorly made, yet they still attract me. Why? I think it comes down to one of the reasons I like film in general. Specifically, I like stories that consolidate problems.

When I was diagnosed with cancer during my teens, and shipped off to the hospital, I recall being filled with a surprising sense of relief. I no longer had to worry about my job, my chores, my bills, my errands, my relationships, or any of the hundreds of little things that divide our minds every day. My many concerns had been traded for a single concern: cancer. It was a gigantic concern, but being singular made it far more manageable. A bulldog clinging to my leg, rather than a thousand ants all over.

That's something I like about movies. The hero may be faced with horrors far worse than anything I deal with, but his problems always boil down to one or two concerns, so it's a relief for me to step into his shoes for awhile. "Chased by orcs for two hours? Yeah, I'd prefer that to wading through this stack of bills while cooking dinner and returning phone calls." I imagine sports and video games work on the same principle: they back-burner every concern in your head but One.

The zombie flick is the epitome of this. In no other genre are the problems of so many reduced so quickly to ONE. In other films, while the protagonist struggles to get the girl or win the big game, we suppose that the rest of the world is still wrapped up in the plethora of troubles that plague us all. Not so in zombie flicks. While Our Guy is booking down the street away from an army of flesh-eaters, we may safely assume that the rest of the planet is doing much the same thing. It's the easiest genre to vicariously occupy, because the story presumes to affect every human being alive. It's a party and we're ALL invited! Swap your woes at the door for one woe that trumps them all: zombies want to eat you.
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Comments:
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[User Picture]From: sirspamdalot
2007-01-10 10:18 pm (UTC)
Thanks. I'm glad the quote came across!
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From: reallife2010
2007-01-10 02:33 pm (UTC)
'The hero may be faced with horrors far worse than anything I deal with, but his problems always boil down to one or two concerns, so it's a relief for me to step into his shoes for awhile'

I think this is a very clever and simple way of explaining peoples relationship with entertainment. Its a form of escapism, and well, I think you described it delightfully =)
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[User Picture]From: sirspamdalot
2007-01-10 10:19 pm (UTC)
Thanks man. And I'm still loving your avatar.
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[User Picture]From: tiredfairy
2007-01-10 04:24 pm (UTC)
The 200(3?) remake of Dawn of the Dead is one of my favorite movies, partly for these reasons. Zombies scare me for some reason...I think it's all the mindless eating.
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[User Picture]From: sirspamdalot
2007-01-10 10:18 pm (UTC)
It's like we're potato chips and they're Homer Simpson!

Loved the Dawn of the Dead remake, too.
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[User Picture]From: pirateman
2007-01-10 04:58 pm (UTC)
If it's too personal, feel free to tell me to fuck off, but what kind of cancer did you have?

Also, I'm a fan of 28 Days Later - I saw some of the Dawn of the Dead remake, but what I liked most about 28 Days is that it's not the zombies that are our biggest problem; it's us.

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[User Picture]From: sirspamdalot
2007-01-10 10:16 pm (UTC)
No worries; I had acute leukemia, which is essentially cancer of the blood (also mentioned here).

A feature of most good zombie films is that we're our biggest problem, and I like that. Somehow the zombie problem emphasizes the human problem, like how salt brings out foods' flavors. I bet if 28 Days Later had just been about a corrupt military unit, a la Casualties of War, it wouldn't have been as impactful.
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