Monday, July 29, 2013

SDCC 2013 - Considering the Zombie Apocalypse

I've always been mildly curious about the zombie apocalypse. Aside from the absurdity of it, I am really curious why current pop culture seems relentlessly obsessed with zombies and post-apocalyptic settings. I've gone to panels at PCA/ACA and heard sincere academics talk about films like Zombieland in brain-melting theoretical terms and left feeling as unenlightened about this phenomenon as I was when I walked in. So, when I went to the Apocalyptic/Zombie: It's the End of the World as We Know It panel, I wasn't expecting much. I was very pleasantly surprised.

Sagers, Browne, Mogk, Cole, Stenson, Averill and Yancey
Moderator Aaron Sagers (MTV/CNN) herded a group of thoughtful,witty, snarky and outright funny authors of the genre through a wide ranging discussion that would frequently crack up the whole panel, and the audience. Every time anyone would say something serious about the mythology/theory of zombies, the entire panel would bust out laughing over the absurdity of the idea. The authors included S.F. Browne (I Saw Zombies Eating Santa Claus); Matt Mogk (Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Zombies); Nick Cole (Old Man & the Wasteland); Peter Stenson (Fiend); Alan Averill (The Beautiful Land) and Rick Yancey (The 5th Wave). Commentary was fast and furious. In my notes, I was unable to keep up with who was saying what. Still, there were some good thoughts:

Why are zombie/post-apocalypse projects so popular?
  • You can do anything. All the rules are gone. Nobody is going to say "don't steal that helicopter."
  • Working out anxiety about nuclear disaster
  • Zombie stories are not about monsters - they are about you. Siege stories.
  • Zombie movies are among the cheapest to make: one trashed out location, a bunch of friends and a make-up team and you've got a movie.
Modern zombie movies adapted from vampires and the voodoo zombies. Romero's Night of the Living Dead was inspired by the novel I am Legend.

Why do zombies crave brains or eat people in general?
  • It's not logical (laughs). A zombie's mouth can not open wide enough or bite hard enough to get through a human skull.
  • Appropriation of bodies/community.
  • Virus wants to replicate, drives them to continue.
Important survival skills?
  • Example of Katrina - New Orleans a beautiful city full of lovely people - but it became Thunderdome in 3 days.
  • Darwinian. Survival of fittest.
  • Need to stockpile things you can barter
  • Knowledge you accumulate most important. How-to's of fixing things, what you can eat, first aid, survival. 

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