Clare McCullough


We, the Mindless Masses

There has been a large increase in zombie-related media, video games, movies, TV shows; these reanimated corpses have made countless debuts on society’s stage. Such as the popular T.V show, The Walking Dead which portrays the post-apocalyptic world after the outbreak of zombies. In this world, you either become a zombie or you live in constant fear as a survivor. Zombies have become a giant in pop-culture. Pop-culture, because of it’s commonality and of course, popularity, reflects people’s everyday lives. Society unknowingly choses symbols in order to express its underlying thoughts and attitudes; everything in culture carries connotations that express our identity, unconscious or conscious. And this growth in zombie-based entertainment is a metaphor for the angst of contemporary society.

The definition of angst is according to, “A feeling of dread, anxiety, or anguish,” The uncertainties of the future would create this societal angst, our decay of our individualism  This growth in zombie-based entertainment shows that society is (metaphorically of course) embracing and morphing into what zombies are and everything that zombies represent.What most consumers don’t understand when they go to the stores and shop, is that everything they buy becomes an extension of the self. It becomes a part of our identity once we decide that we like it, that this thing, is ours. 

And this ties in with society’s fascination with zombies, it reveals our underlying psyche, because whatever we yearn for and connect with and therefore attach a part of our identity to, we buy. Zombies, being the unconscious, animate bag of death that it is, are the very embodiment of mindless consumption. They shuffle around, slowly heading toward things that they wish to consume, to become a part of themselves. Zombies are slave to their wants and needs, and in reality, they are like us, only they consume brain: we consume apple products. And society realizes that, either subconsciously or consciously.

Zombies also show how powerless we feel in face of the future. Zombies have no freedom,and they are subject only to their hunger, we see this and we subconsciously connect with them. We connect to zombies through our greed, hunger, and fear- we are hungry for all sorts of things and we consume products to fill the ever growing hole that exists inside all humans. Zombies portray our angst ridden fears, our fear of responsibility, of being alone, and our fear of freedom, by not being conscious, these zombies give us that out that we need. Whether we identify with the zombies or the people who survive them. Zombies, being mindless meat sacks, have no responsibilities but to consume, they are never ever alone, and they are no longer free to make their own choices like humans are. And surviving the zombie apocalypse frees us from the responsibilities that we have currently. If people in this society can’t make their own choices, than they can’t be held accountable for them. And they now have legitimate excuses for making the wrong choices and they don’t have to face the consequences.

Zombies play into the feeling of inauthenticity and loss of individuality that society feels today. Zombies are just mindless mobs, a face in the crowd, we never really hear about the individuals behind the rotting flesh- what they once were. This portrays the underlying thoughts that we are insignificant in the grand scheme of things, or even in the human scheme of things. We are just another number in the mass of a faceless mediocrity. But the fact is, we gravitate toward these games because we are so afraid of our individuality because that means we are alone in the world, we are born alone, and we live alone, and we die alone. But not as zombies, as zombies; we are a collective whole, we are a part of something bigger than ourselves. But really we are simply running away from who we actually are and our problems. 

Through Zombies we hide from existentialism, the basic idea from this philosophy is that the independent person is the only one that can determine the course of their own life. Sartre’s phrase  “Man is condemned to be free.” really sums up the existentialist philosophy. We did not choose to be born, the moment that we are, we are responsible for anything that we do. This is why we conscious beings want to identify with these zombies, we reject that we are conscious beings- capable of making our own decisions and then dealing the with the consequences of those decisions. We refuse to take responsibility for our actions, or rather inactions. And this undercurrent of thought shows in what we buy, in this case, zombie-related media.

The symbols in media show what in essence society’s hopes and thoughts are. Who we see ourselves as, because companies need to sell products and in order to do that they need to connect to their audience. And a big way to do that is to show them who they think they are and what they want. Our angst from our inauthenticity, insignificance, and fear of responsibility and future is shown through the zombie-related media surge.

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