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Friday, November 7, 2014

"I'm the Zombie? How'd That Happen?"

...with Battle of the Bands results!

English: Mr Zombie
 Mr Zombie (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

        Back in May, Robin at Your Daily Dose got me to thinking about issues she brought up in a post that you can find here.  In my comment responding to her post I contemplated some of  the metaphorical implications regarding the popularity of the zombie genres found so often in modern culture.  Thinking that perhaps my ponderings might make for an interesting blog post, I tucked away my thoughts in my idea file to be pulled out later.  My recent blog series about death and zombies seemed to be a good place to finally bring these ideas out as a conclusion to that series.

        Over the past few posts on Tossing It Out, as well as a post at my memoir blog Wrote By Rote, I've been discussing the topics of death and zombies partly in relation to the Halloween season, but primarily to call attention to my Battle of the Bands installment that featured the song "When I'm Dead and Gone".  I'll be getting to the winner of the BOTB contest shortly, but first I want to present my theory about our increasing societal obsession with zombies.

        This topic has been addressed by many others.   Andrew Leon directed me to one of his own posts, "Zombies: A Cultural Metaphor" from a few years ago at his blog Strange Pegs.  In short, Andrew offers the concept that our fascination and fear of zombies is related to issues regarding the influence of technology, corporations, and government on our society.  You might want to go back and read his post to get the full story behind his theory.  

         Other theories I've found have suggested that the zombie metaphor extends to viruses, contagion, human isolation, paranoia, and the general fears that confront us.  The Ebola Virus crisis has probably made others beside myself think about a future epidemic unlike any we've seen previously that could include reanimated corpses.   Farfetched?  Probably, but it makes for a good scary story.

         Here is what came to my mind as I was commenting on Robin's previously mentioned blog post:

Regarding hope vs purpose. Personally I think internally hope is the force that drives any of us. Without hope we merely act on autopilot to get the days work done with nothing more to look forward to. Goals are the result of hope and the hope provides more meaning to the purpose.
From the outside though, as far as other people are concerned, the purpose is mainly what matters. Our hope may spread to others around us and inspire them, but on the whole the people we deal with are mainly interested in the purpose we serve.
The burger flipper may hope toward vacation time or a college degree and the purpose of the job is to get them to their goal, but the job is not their ultimate purpose. The guy waiting for his burger hopes that his burger is fixed right and the flipper has no purpose to him other to get his burger done.
Maybe a lot of the zombie stories metaphorically represent a world that increasingly consists of people who are losing hope and the burning internal desire to find ultimate purpose only to become hopeless empty shells merely left with the purpose to survive.

          To take this thinking a step further I sense that many people today have a spiritual disconnect and rely on outside forces such as governmental or societal support.   They are burdened with the desire to have more and do more which in turn leads to enslavement of debt, jobs they don't like, and a general lack of direction about where they are going in this life.  Consequently they plod lifelessly from one day to the next from job to the shopping mall to do whatever else everyone else is doing.   We all wait, stand in lines, and face frequent let-downs in our lives.  What we do with these experiences and how we react to everything we encounter determines the amount of actual life we have burning within us.   Some people don't take it so well and spend time complaining and just following the rest of the crowds who have little or no idea what's coming next.

        There is certainly more that can be added to all this but I must move on to BOTB results.

Battle of the Bands:  The Outcome

        What I thought was going to be an essentially uneventful BOTB contest turned out to be a heated  horse race.   There were surprises like those voters who I thought would surely know the original version of "When I'm Dead and Gone" by McGuinness Flint who did not know the song.  Maybe they just didn't remember it since it's a song that is not often played anywhere these days.   A few of you knew the song but most did not.

         As I somewhat expected in the case of those who did not know the song or the original artist several cast their votes based on the greater familiarity of Def Leppard.   I was surprised that some voters did not like the song as I find it to be catchy and quite entertaining, an opinion shared by at least a third of the voters. But like I say it was a horse race all the way.   As I read the comments and tallied the votes I could almost hear the sports announcer detailing the back and forth nature of the contest.  This was one of my craziest BOTB posts ever as far as close voting goes.

        My preferred version is the original by McGuinness Flint for the same reasons cited by some of you.  The instrumentation, especially the mandolin and the solid drum backing, as well as the vocals give the song a better sound to my ears than the version by Def Leppard.   Those hard rockin' Def boys did a fine job with the cover and it's grown on me through subsequent listenings, but I don't think they could ever surpass McGuinness Flint for my taste.   I love this song--it's a catchy foot-tapping memorable romp and I can't understand why anyone wouldn't like it.   But some of you didn't as indicated in your voting.

        So how did my vote affect the outcome of the Battle?  It almost puts McGuinness Flint in a tie with Def Leppard.

The Final Tally

 McGuinness Flint     13

Def Leppard             14

         The next Battle of the Bands posts will come on Saturday November 15th and I've got what will be one of my favorite matches so far.   It's a pop song from a 1969 concept album by a hugely popular artist whose career spanned over half of the 20th century.   The seemingly unlikely competitor is a very eclectic band that came together in the early 90's and is still active today.   Be sure to join me for this one and I don't want to hear anyone say they don't like this coming song pick.   How could you not like this song?  Anyway, be here and find out for yourself.

         Does my zombie theory hold credence in your estimation?   What is your own opinion as to why zombies are so fascinating to so many?    Do you know what my blog post title is derived from?    


  1. Def Leppard just barely won.
    A spiritual disconnect. I think you nailed it right there.

  2. Zombies are escapism as is the rush of comic book heroes. When real life is causing distress, we just want to believe in fantasy and take our minds off the problems. There may be symbolism in there, but I doubt it.

    Spiritual disconnect is quite true.

  3. I don't recognize the blog title but I've never been a fan of zombie culture. I think there is a spiritual vacuum in the entire world. But people look for happiness in the wrong places, like you said. They think money and things will make them happy so they're headed for disappointment.

  4. Spiritual zombiefication, virus, reanimation of dead bodies...zombies have many origin theories. McGuiness lost, darn but it was fun voting.

  5. I am a credit counsellor and deal with people who are in debt daily. The media, banks, stores etc... all play on the person wanting convenience and their impatience. We are manipulated that to be a success we must have that big ass truck that will never be used to transport lumber, tools etc... We must have the latest IPad, tablet, clothing etc...I do not blink an eye when i see people who have a debt load of $70,000 which does not include a car loan or a mortgage. people fill up their homes with stuff and watch the tv, netflix or everything on the computer. If I have to see one more selfie, I will scream. Selfie is horrid and speaks to the selfish natures of human beings today. It is uncool to like TV shows or films that are upbeat and have a positive feeling. The older people, who have seen so much destruction already have no care to see the recent zombie flick. My mom would tell me she had seen enough dead bodies for real, why see one on TV? Human beings like the dark side. Why do people slow down when there is car accident? It is not just because they need to but they want to see what has happened. The zombie craze delves into the human darkness. It is cool to have no hope, be bad ass, see killings in a very graphic way. I wonder if the times are too good. During the great depression and WW2, there were crime stories, film noir and depression era film being made but there were also tons of musicals, comedies and stories where hope reigned. People saw these films in droves. These same people watched their homes being taken away, be constantly hungry, have no job and there was no welfare (until FDR put it through. There was real survival and in WW2 there was death and loss. I have a feeling the last thing people would want to see would be tons of killings and hopelessness be the main drive despite great acting and writing. Scary movies were always around but not to this extent & this style. My thoughts:)

  6. Alex-- Without a great power to look up to and a greater hope for which to yearn, many are blind to what can be gained from having these and just accept what's offered here in the world. They are like zombies.

    DG -- Seems like the zombie genres could only add to the problems, especially if we take the concept seriously.

    Susan GK-- So true. There is so much more than mere acquisition of things. People matter and zombies are usually depicted as caring for nothing beyond their own survival.

    Sheena-kay-- So glad you took the time to vote again.

    Birgit-- This is a great comment. So intense with so many truths that it's difficult to respond to them all here. You've provided potential material for many more blog posts. What you've said in your comment is important for us all to contemplate, but sadly many people continue and will continue to keep on living life as you've described. One point though regarding today's films, now the filmmakers go for graphic depictions rather than inferences of what has happened or is happening. I even see this in the remakes of George Romero's great zombie movies--an consequently the originals were scarier and had greater depth of message.
    Thanks for a great comment.


  7. I think it's a more subtle issue.

    I don't think people are much different than they were 100 years ago or 200 years ago or at any time in the past. Basically, people have always been doing what they need to survive. "People" being "most people," not the "1%." There was no time of great spiritual enlightenment or inherent purpose or anything like that for people of any time. When you boil it all down, people have always just wanted to eat. The difference, today, because of technology, is that we can see how the 1% lives, really see how they live, something that the common man has never been privy to in the past. That knowledge, the knowledge that some people live so far above everyone else, creates a great divide within us, a sense of inequity, a sense of unfairness. And it should. Most people, though, let that "sense" defeat them. It drives people to a "living for the weekend" mentality because, really, what else is there?

  8. I think a spiritual disconnection with the world in general is an issue.

  9. Great post and comments Lee. I'm not sure what to make of it all though a spiritual disconnect is appropriate i think for the emphasis on consumption and materialism even if there is no money to support it. So zombification happens. No delay of gratification.

    You will let us know about the title of this post I hope

  10. Interesting post Lee, though I am not into the death and zombie subject, at my age I rather think about life and what I would like to achieve with what life that is left for me,

    McGuinness Flint only had 2 hits here in the UK. "When I'm Dead and Gone " reached no. 2 here in the charts, there was another song a few years later that reached no. 5 and they wasn't heard of here again.

    Enjoy your week-end.

  11. Andrew- Rather than subtlety I think it's a matter subject to many different interpretations and most would have credible arguments to back them up. Basic needs remain the same but our means of obtaining them are vastly different than they once were. Most of us get our food from stores and restaurants and don't think much about where it all comes from and never expect the supply to go away. A catastrophic circumstance would potentially cause a "zombiefication" of the masses as they strive to find sustenance. I'm also thinking in terms such as the mentality produced by situations such as rioters and looters taking to the streets like after the Rodney King verdicts--not much thought involved other than crazies trying to get what they want without regard to societal structure.

    As for the 1% vs the masses, don't you think the peons and serfs were very aware of their own poverty in comparison to the privileged who dwelt in the castle or the estate behind the walls. The poor have been and always will be with us as Jesus pointed out. Poverty is primarily a state of perception and aspiration but human have always thought of it as being what we have as measured against what others have. When we become enslaved by our desires and our covetousness then our moral vision becomes distorted, leaving us in that zombie state of having to work more to get more and to take advantage of whatever weaknesses exist that will provide us that bit extra that our labor has not provided.

    These are my thoughts that in conjunction with yours and those of others make the zombie metaphor more complete.

    Thanks for your thoughts as always.


  12. There's a difference between knowing that the guy in the castle is rich and knowing exactly how he lives in comparison to how you live. We didn't used to get to see so clearly just what the differences are.

  13. Gina-- Hope and faith are big components to truly having meaningful life.

    Susan Scott-- There is one person who has yet to stop by who I'm sure knows the reference in my title. I'll let readers know though if no one recognizes this reference.

    Yvonne-- Too bad that McGuinness Flint didn't get more known as they were an excellent group. Their members influenced others though.

    Andrew-- Do we really get the full grasp of the differences as we perceive them from what we hear from media? Even the rich guy's shoes might not be a place where we'd want to be if we knew everything. Of course I wouldn't mind trying them on to get some idea, but still there are details that we sometimes never know. And those upper crust--are they content or would they like to have what the guy in the other castle has. Do they fear losing what they have? I agree that there is a great deal of inequity, but what would be the better way to do things?


  14. I'm not sure we're talking about the same thing, anymore.

    And, actually, -studies- have shown repeatedly that people who are well off actually are happier than everyone else. Basically, money really does buy happiness.

  15. Andrew-- I think we're in the same ballpark playing the same ballgame. There are many different aspects to the idea of wealth vs poverty, perception vs reality, and all of the other related things that become part of the issue of inequities. The "studies" to which you refer would probably need a lot of definition clarifications to qualify their legitimacy as well as knowing who did the study and what the purpose of that study was.

    I certainly think I would be happier if I had far greater monetary wealth, but that's me and my perception of things. I might also have bigger problems and worries, but I'd be willing to find out. Then there would be that problem of the 99% who want to take my wealth in one way or another. Would I end up as the victim of a ruthless misguided proletariat marching me off to the guillotine.

    Winning the lottery would be cool, but if the prize is divided up amongst everyone else then the winnings amount to nothing. We are equal, but equally poor.


  16. I can't stand zombie movies, vampire movies/books, super hero movies or anything to do with the end of the world or a muderous gang of thugs.I haven't spent a lot of time, (or any at all) trying to figure out why people these days are all about the zombie stories...if I was to make a guess I'd say something like... collective panic(?) Basically, with a few exceptions, if a thing can't really happen, then I'm not interested in the movie about it....and if it can really happen, but it's super gory and evil, I'm not interested....and I'm using the word 'evil' as a description of human, not spiritual, cruelty.
    I am interested in the difference between the 1% and the rest of us though. I agree with Andrew, that, as it turns out, money does buy happiness. Of course it does. How many people who can't pay their rent, or keep the heat on, or eat are super thrilled about their situation? How many homeless people do we see dancing in the streets for sheer joy at their existence?
    I really think that fundamentally people are no different now then we were one or two hundred years ago, but the way we get our food, shelter and comforts has changed a lot. The way society is structured today, forget about happiness, you need money just to eat. Everyone needs money, and for some it's easy to come by and always available....speaking of the 1%, I once saw a documentary about Prince Charles and was staggered to know that he cannot draw his own bath....(see how much detail we know these days about 'them'?)...this is not due to some physical impedement, but because he, in his entire 60-something year old life, has never had to do that. He's never been taught, so he doesn't know...there was a time in the past when I could have had my head lopped off for saying such a thing about the future king, and now all this information is available to anyone with a couple minutes and a solid internet connection.
    Great post!

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  18. I've watched one or two zombie movies, but wouldn't give time of day to zombie books.

    I think you might have something there with your theory of spiritual disconnect, Lee.


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