8/23/2010

When I am King: Shop Till You Drop Dead

When I am King...

Zombie movies will be easier to make.

There's a recurring theme of zombies in pop culture. There are movies every year about them, songs about their zany flesh-eating antics, and a firm idea in the collective consciousness about these endearing flesh-eating creatures. The story is always roughly the same; some disease ravaged our society and somehow produced creatures that have a hankering for human flesh. They're basically like us, but with less of a hangup about cannibalism and slightly worse personal hygiene.

I believe that popular entertainment is a reflection of our fantasies and fears. We fantasize about wielding chainsaws and massacring hordes of people, while we fear another high school musical sequel.

So what is it about zombies that captures the public imagination? Is it their listless look as they stumble through life like a teenager in math class? Is it the shy and retiring way that they feast on brains? Or is it just that they provide more interesting target practice than cans and the neighbor's cat?

I would argue that zombies are real, and that these movies are actually documenting an important social phenomenon that we are all trying to understand.

I see zombies every time I go shopping in Costco.

I was shopping last weekend, noticing that everyone around me was slowly shuffling along, pushing their cart. They looked slowly around the shelves with dull, confused eyes. They grabbed flats of cookies and gallon jugs of mayonnaise. And they kept moving forward in their ambling gate, lurching from one foot to the other in an effort to just keep shopping. They didn't notice me or any of the other undead in the store. Carts bumped, feet were rolled over, and nobody noticed. They all just kept moving along on their zombie shopping excursion.

The only thing missing from the scene was blood-smeared bodies and the smacks of zombie feasting. Then I passed the food court of the store and got that too; faces covered in ketchup and fudge sauce completed the experience.

When I am King, zombie movies won't use actors and far-fetched stories to explain the undead. Instead, filmmakers will just take their cameras to these stores and roll film. A few screams to enhance the soundtrack and they'll be done. This will free up the movie industry to put more effort into other fictional masterpieces, like more high school musical sequels.
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