Chapter 8 – Zombies in the Academy

This Week’s Materials:

The Nurses’ role in the preventions of Solanum infection (Article)

A report on the zombie outbreak of 2009: how mathematics can save us (no, really) (Article)

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When the zombie genre exploded, I don’t think anyone could have predicted the aftershock. There is enough media that it warrants its own horror sub-genre  It even warrants is own sub-sub-genre, the zombie comedy. However, its become a novelty item to the extreme, and nowadays it seems to be thrown into everything. Probably the most unlikely place to find it is the Academic articles. Since the zombie is a regarded as culturally driven (something watched and created by the masses, not by academics) it seems strange to see it there. However, throw some zombies in an article, and something changes. A Nurses’ instruction on dealing with extreme scenarios becomes interesting and funny when that scenario is a zombie apocalypse. Math can be used to deal with emergencies, but specifically when dealing with the extermination of zombies, it is particularly relevant. They are winking, as well, at the fact that they used zombies, as if that should be entertaining in itself.

Just Add Zombies

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This is not the first time we have seen this. The zombie has wormed its way into everything. It is on our t-shirts, in our charity events, on our TV, stencilled on to cookies, made into mobiles and children’s books. It’s even in the House of Commons. Want to be a zombie? There is an app for that. The zombie is not only a staple of serious horror and drama flicks. Now, anywhere it outside of the big screen or hour-long Walking dead, it is a novelty item. People want things themed as zombies because they are funny, quirky, out-of-place, and juxtaposed with whatever they are buying. The zombie became laughable. It is only accepted when watching the film; anywhere else, it has become a joke.

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How did the zombie become so hilarious though? In this blog at least, I have found that the zombie represents some seriously intellectual aspects of human nature and disaster. It may be a brain-dead, shambling cannibal, but it speaks to us. It does not make sense to juxtapose it, because if given the chance it can stand among the masses as something worth examining critically. However, it seems now the zombie is the butt of everyone’s joke. Want your essay to be read more? Add in zombies. Want to do a fun university course? Add zombies. Want to run a marathon? Just add zombies. Something happened along the way that made zombies something disregarded as intellectual.

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The zombie genre was nothing to laugh at from the beginning. Zombies were scary. They ate our families, then our families tried to eat us. Perhaps this is where we must have gone astray. We began laughing at things that were scary to make ourselves feel better. The satires came out, the jokes erupted, and we began to branch away. The zombie then became something that we juxtaposed with everything. Slowly it seemed to work its way up in the ranks, from book spoofs, to websites, all the way up to the Academy. I believe the academy is the last stop for the zombie. They are usually the last to talk about something that began within society, but when they do, it is usually because that motion created some form of societal change. However, since the zombie became a joke, this is different. This has a new type of juxtaposition  A new type of joke. A joke that is guarding all of us from the truth.

The Academy Vs. the Zombie 

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If the Academy is the top of the bar, the intellectual influence of the world, the zombie is its ultimate counterpart. They are the undead, unintelligent, horde of post-humans that, coincidentally enough, also influences the world. It is laughable that the zombie should enter the academy, because the academy is the definition of intelligence. However, the zombie has taken over our culture. Is the reason that the academy has not gobbled up the monster because they feel threatened by it? Why is the zombie not regarded as intelligent when clearly it is and should be examined if not solely on the fact that it has permeated our culture. Perhaps academics are afraid of it. Perhaps talking about them makes the jump from elitism to regular society. Perhaps we have simply joked about zombies enough that it cannot be taken seriously. Or maybe jumping on the bandwagon of the zombie insinuates a lack of control of the opinions of society. They will literally become taken over by something created by society, not by them. The academy, like everyone else, is afraid of zombies.


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Keeping zombies as a novelty keeps them away from totally permeating our culture. This is why it’s always used as a joke. We dehumanize the zombie, keeping it funny, keeping it juxtaposed, and it can’t attack us or completely take over. It is weak without the power of being regarded intellectually. In reality, the zombie has taken us over, but only as a joke. Maybe this is why intelligent shows like the Walking Dead have not won any critically acclaimed awards. Even the academy cannot take it seriously. However, if you look at the zombie apocalypse as a horde of consumers taking over the world, there are some things that seem too similar to ignore about society.

Denial of Zombihood 

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Maybe the academy is afraid to let zombies in because they don’t want them to take over culturally  However, maybe they are afraid the zombies are already here, and they are us. When we are in denial, we joke and laugh about something that seriously has a grip on us. We fight to maintain a reality that does not exist. The academics, society, and the world is in denial  Denial that we are zombies. The absorption of the zombie into culture is that of a constant joke. By disregarding the zombie as intelligent, we are trying to drive it away. However, you cannot drive away something that is yourself.

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The truth is, we are already the horde. However, we are afraid that if we let the zombie in, we are acknowledging our fall from the individual and our climb to group-think. our climb to becoming part of the horde. It seems we, including the academy, maintain we are higher up than zombies with jokes and laughter to hold on to that last bit of individuality. We know our status  followers and consumers. We also know that we are too far gone and unwilling to admit it. But the zombie is a great extreme – it can be used in almost any way because it is so malleable  Maybe since the zombie is such an extreme, we are seeing an extreme of ourselves. Malleable, so that no matter who you are, you see yourself.

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We have always been zombies, followers of trends, our thinking influenced by one another. However, what separates us from the undead is not cannibalistic tendencies but its the unwillingness to admit what we are. The zombie has no trouble admitting its a zombie. We can learn a lot from it about ourselves, who we are, and how to change. However, we are in denial of the cannibalistic, drone-like qualities of our culture that does not fall too far from the zombie tree. We laugh at zombies now, dehumanizing them, use them for entertainment and to refresh our monotonous lifestyles. In the end, we seem to be trying to make ourselves better, more human, more intelligent, and pushing away the idea that we could be the zombies, that we may not be that much better than them.

I question who we are afraid of? Is it the zombies, or ourselves?

That’s all for this week.

Rebeccah

Next week: The politics, and zombies, and such

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