Sunday, February 28, 2010

"Pub of the Dead" follow-up: zombies in pop culture and psychobilly, or "Why Zombies Ate Her Brain"

As reported in my previous article (click here to read a review of the "Pub of the Dead" psychobilly night at Old Town Pub, Pasadena), there has been a general resurgence of zombies in pop culture, and zombies seem to be particularly popular among psychobilly fans.

Yes, I know zombies have been a part of pop culture for a long time. After all, as Professor Robert Maniquis (UCLA, 19th century literature expert) pointed out while analyzing the popularity of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (the 2009 literary mash-up “co-authored” by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith), the Jesus story represents perhaps the most enduring and famous tale of living dead resurrection ever. I’ve never really thought about Jesus as a zombie, but the professor has a point. And I'm also aware that the psychobilly love for zombies stems from a cult-like obsesstion with old sci fi and horror B-movies, many of which featured campy zombie gore.

While there is a long history of fascination with the undead, there has been a clear spike in zombie love the past few years, rivaling, if not trumping, the sexy and alluring vampire fetish… or maybe just catering to a very different audience. Some have attributed this resurgence of zombie interest to Max Brooks’ books such as The Zombie Survival Guide (2003) and World War Z (2006). Now there are zombie walks across the nation where people dress up and stumble along main thoroughfares with their arms outstretched, muttering “mbbbrrraaaaaiiinnsssss” at passersby. Last year I attended Oakland’s “Thriller” re-creation when zombies all over the world simultaneously performed Michael Jackson’s choreography. There was recently an art exhibit in Arcadia entitled “Zombies in Love.” I’m not even going to get into the scores of zombie movies and video games, and I’ll tell you all about the “Zombie Research Society” in a later article. These are just some of the recent manifestations of the zombie fetish in popular culture.

So why are zombies are so ubiquitous in the popular imagination lately? I’ve started to compile some of the different theories people have come up with. I’ll write in more detail about each of these soon, but for now, here is a brief run-down of what I’ve found:

CLICK HERE TO READ THE THEORIES ON THE EXAMINER WEBSITE

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