November 11, 2017

If I Was a Zombie, Would I be Eligible for Social Security?

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Written by: David Baruffi

AUTHOR’S NOTE: The original version of this zombie commentary was written in 2011, and several references are clearly dated. For that reason, I have/will updated some portions of this article and in turn, I ask that you forgive what may be obviously dated references to the period. Thank you. 

I do have to confess that Halloween has never been my favorite holiday. While I like watching a good thriller and occasional horror every now and again, I’m a one of those people who will never fully understand the phrase, “I like to be scared.” I am however friends with a lot of people who don’t share this opinion, and love horror films, dressing up for Halloween, movies filled with blood, guts and gore, and especially zombies. (These are the friends you get when you get the film degree, what can I tell ya [Shrugs]) While, my lifelong fear of knocking on people’s doors has prevented me from fully accepting Halloween into my life – of the aforementioned list – the thing that I find the strangest is the love/fear/obsession of zombies and with some my really strange friends, it’s their admittedly unconscious fear and some are even in preparation of an upcoming zombie attack.

I was thinking about that recently as I was revisiting George Romero‘s ‘Night of the Living Dead‘. I don’t praise the zombies too much in that movie, because they’re aren’t many. While it’s deservedly so, considered the premiere, original zombie horror, The movie takes place mostly in a house that’s the few residents that have so far outran the zombies (something that, considering how slow they usually travel, you’d think more people in these movies would be able to do.) The zombies are rarely shown in the movie, which along with the great natural storytelling ability of Romero, creates a frighteningly tense movie, as we wonder if/when the zombies will attack.

With more recent entries such as ‘Twilight,’ ‘The Vampire Diaries,’ and ‘True Blood,’ leading the way, we’ve been weaving through a cultural obsession over vampires, but recently though, the paradigm seems to be shifting to zombies. From some of the more memorable recent zombie movies likeDanny Boyle‘s ‘28 Days Later,’ and remakes of movies like ‘The Crazies,’ and the excellent zombie comedy ‘Zombieland‘ (a movie that made my Ten Best List the year it came out) to TV’s ‘The Walking Dead,’ (I’ve seen one season of yet, I might get back to it soon, mostly however I was bored though. [Shrugs] Sorry.) Zombies have even infiltrated classic literature. Every few days or so on imdb.com and other news websites, there’s been a story about the trouble getting a cast together for the film adaptation of the best selling novel ‘Pride & Prejudice & Zombies‘, a book that, just based on title, I’m assuming it’s done some serious reimagining of Jane Austen’s best book. It’s popularity is sure to make the movie adaptation a major event in the next year or two, once it gets off the ground. (Yeah, I still haven’t gotten around to reading or watching anything involved Pride, Prejudice, or zombies lately.) 

Still, I’ve never thought much of zombies. They’ve never particularly scared me in a horror film, even in Romero’s work, they seem to be the most lackluster of all the typical popular villains. They don’t do anything! They don’t seem to think too much, if they’re able to think at all; they’re usually fairly easy to destroy; the worst zombie movies really play more like video games than films. They walk around aimlessly, with no apparent direction…. So, basically my question has always been, why are we so constantly afraid of them? I mean, vampires are undead too, but they think, scheme, they attack with bloodthirstyness, and they have  secret power that seems to make people, especially women, just through themselves into their arms, ready to surrender to their whim. (Lucky son-of-a-b**** vampires) They come out at night when we’re not at our peak cognitive awareness, and if worse comes to worse, as long as the sun’s not out, (Daywalkers exception) they can just turn into a bat, and fly away from us. What’s so scary about zombies? The best answer I got when questioning a couple of my friends and their like-minded acquaintances is that “there’s so many of them, and they keep coming.” That’s true enough, actually and quite frankly a good point. I could also mention how there’s a billion Chinese, and they’ve never done anything, and suddenly I’ve turned that rather innocuous statement into a political commentary (Which is usually around the time, the guy I’m talking to, gives me a swift asskicking for being a smartass, but still.)

Actually, that’s the best way to really use zombies in storytelling, they’re metaphorical. Zombies are us, they’re who we’re going to become, they’re dead, and now they’re the living dead, and not much different than modern people. In fact, zombies, can be used as a very good description for basically any metaphorical statement one wants to say about the world. If it was me, I’d probably compare zombies to mindless Teapartiers, who travel the country without any thought more complicated, “no big government,” or “no raise taxes,” or “just say no,” or any other stupid three-word phrase that’s just long enough for them to understand why they think they’re there. (Again, please excuse how dated of some of these references are.) You can even make the Wall Street protesters the people who have to build an army and coalititon of the willing and pissed-offed in order to fight the zombies, which are slowly heading their way. I’m sure I’m not the 186th person who’s thought of that idea today. You’re going to see about 5 zombie movies a year with that original premise in mind, starting about two years from now I imagine. (Well, I might’ve but I don’t remember now.)

Still, it must be nice being a zombie. I mean, until somebody blows your head off, I bet I’d enjoy it. Zombies don’t have to think, don’t have to do much. They’re very id-oriented though, so if they do want something, they’re going to demanding and bitchy until they get it. I’m a little surprised more zombies don’t demand sex, actually. I mean, if I had been dead, and now I’m walking amongst the living…, I mean, what’s the worst that can happen, get AIDS and die? I’m already a zombie! When the zombies do come, it should be free love, and Woodstock all over again. Zombie Jerry Garcia, bringing The Grateful Dead back from the, well, the grateful dead, and singing “Casey Jones,” and “Truckin'”, while all the other zombies are just grooving and hanging out, maybe one trips out on some acid, but nothing major. I mean, even a really bad acid trip for a zombie can’t be worse than, you know, a light hangover for him.

Wait–can zombies drink alcohol? Can zombies drink? Can they eat? Zombies should hit the buffets in Vegas. All you can eat, no worrying about gaining weight. You’re already a skeleton that’s just barely able to keep his arms from randomly falling off, have another eggs benedict. In fact, have five. I’m telling you, if we weren’t so afraid of these zombies, I don’t think they’d be that big a problem, no matter how many there are. I mean, they don’t really get all that pissed until we start killing them, maybe they don’t want to eat our brains? Maybe they only want directions to the nearest Jack in the Box, or something.

I would worry a bit if zombies were allowed to vote, but not that much. Then again, if anything, zombies might be easy to control and manipulate, probably more voters. Hey, social security for over 55 and zombies, I bet that’ll be a big winner among them. Oh look, the populations of the country has shifted from center-left to damn near socialist in one year. The population increase due to the Zombies migration, has entirely rewritten the electoral map. (Make your own modern-day politics joke here) They’re probably gonna be the ones, trying to shoot the zombies, or worse yet, they’ll try to build a wall between the worlds of the living and the living dead. Like a wall is going to hold a bunch of zombies, really? You think they can’t climb?! And even if they can’t figure it out right away, they’re zombies! They’re already dead, and don’t really care if barb-wire is stuck gets stuck between their legs, they’ll come over it if they want to.

Well, maybe I’m wrong and zombies will have nothing better to do in the world of the living than eat our brains. In that case, then yeah, probably shoot them. But, I don’t know, it seems like a lot of work, rising for the dead, just to eat human brains, when there’s so many other things they can do. Maybe human brains taste really good, and we just don’t find that out until after we die. Maybe that’s the secret of life! We die, we go to heaven and God tells us the secret: “Human brains taste better than New York Strawberry Cheesecake! Go back as a zombie, and experience it before you enter the eternal paradise! Oh, and while you’re there, get some Diet Sprite, we don’t have any here.” (Not sure why heaven doesn’t have Diet Sprite in this fantasy, but, you get the idea.) In the meantime, prepare, if we must, for the attack of the killer zombies, but not too much. Best scenario, we’re wrong and zombies will never attack, but I’m holding out hope that if the zombies come, they’re not going to be that vicious and bloodthirsty.

Well, unless we deny them the basic human right of Social Security that is. (Dun-dun-DUN!)

About the Author

David Baruffi
David Baruffi
David Baruffi has been a successful unemployed screenwriter for, let's be vague and call it "years". He's got a B.A. in Film Studies from UNLV, is a certified script supervisor and has done a little bit of everything in film, but mostly is a writer. Personally on his own blog "David Baruffi's Entertainment Views and Reviews" which is at www.davidbaruffi.blogspot.com,and professionally has written several scripts and stories, for himself, and for others and as a ghostwriter. When he's not doing that he watches his autistic brother most days and he looks like two old puppets.



If I Was a Zombie, Would I be Eligible for Social Security?

Some post-halloween thoughts on the zombie films and fandom.
by David Baruffi


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