October 29, 2012 | Marcus Varner | Leave a comment Everybody knows that zombies aren’t just zombies. No, even from their modern cinema conception, the undead have been harnessed as a symbol. But what metaphors do these ghouls hold for us? What can we possibly learn from a bunch of guys who have only diseased, decayed brains? The following are only four of the commonly seen metaphors attached to the undead. Feel free to add your own in the comments below [warning: the clips might be too gory for some users. We don’t mind if you skip them.]: 1. Consumer culture Dawn of the Dead wasn’t set in a shopping mall for no reason. Both the original and the remake were making the case that the consumer culture of the 20th and now 21st centuries is literally eating our society. The zombies represent us, living a life of endless, mindless consumption of media and products, even at the expense of our fellow human beings. Don’t believe me? Check out this famous scene from the Zack Snyder version of Dawn of the Dead: 2. Mankind’ natural depravity In many a zombie flick, humans start just trying to survive, which survival, of course, involves braining the undead in various ways. But, after awhile, some of the survivors grow to enjoy their zombie kills a little too much. In these movies, humans aren’t really all that different from the zombies, except in the way that the zombies are more overt about their depravity. At least zombies have a virus/cosmic cloud/radiation to blame. This clip from the 1990 Night of the Living Dead remake says it all: 3. Mankind’s catatonia In other zombie films, zombies represent nothing more than the sleepy state, the numbed state of being that many of us find ourselves in our modern society. Which may hit a little too close to the mark. Think about it: we fritter away our time in front of computer screens, tv screens, tablet screens, or smartphones, having very little actual experiences of our own, “asleep” to the joys of real living. I would argue that Walking Dead falls into this category. 4. Fear itself In most recent zombie flicks, the undead exist mainly as something to be afraid of. These straight-to-DVD ghouls, unfortunately, have no social commentary to make, nothing to do other than be a scary, malevolent force for a protagonist to escape and/or butcher in creative ways. But what a powerful image it is. The image of a neighbor or a friend or a family member suddenly turned against you might be the most primal of humankind’s nightmares. So what do zombies mean to you? Wax philosophical in the comments below!