Ask a group of geeks to go protest in the streets in favor of human rights, peace, or even privacy issues, and they’ll decline. For them, the best form of organized protest is an ineffective and totally made-up boycott. However, ask the same people to show up somewhere dressed like zombies and they’ll not only heed this urgent call but make sure they put nothing less than 100% effort into it. They will call their friends to participate, get the word out, take photos, and provide a lot of coverage and commentary on the event. Nothing provides a bigger amusement than shocking and making fun of the mundanes by all coming out and dressing up like zombies at the same time in a coordinated effort. Things that could make a difference? Less so.
While zombies were once an element for biting social commentary against consumerism and blind acceptance, they have evolved into the poster monsters for consumerism and blind acceptance. In the comic book world, Marvel comics addressed the issue of its most die-hard fans being referred to as “Marvel zombies” by releasing Marvel Zombies, a comic series in which the standard superheroes are now animated maggot-ridden half-decayed corpses. Surprising nobody, the fans have eagerly purchased the original comics (there is now a third series in the making) as well as the vast array of associated merchandise. You might think that nobody in their right mind would want a $100 statue of zombie versions of Spider-Man and Mary Jane, but you would be wrong.
In fact, the comics world is absolutely flooded with zombie-related comics, with the premiere title being Image Comics’ The Walking Dead, in which it’s been revealed that “the zombies…they’re us!” for over fifty issues now. Every month a new zombie-related comic comes out to fill the seemingly insatiable desire by geeks to read about shuffling corpses that can’t speak. The zombie-fascinated geek can read these, play any of the dozens of zombie-themed boardgames, and watch any of several recent zombie movies. It’s only a matter of time before the TV networks begin a serial drama about a zombie plague.
While other classic monsters have engaging and often multiple background stories and versions, zombies are refreshingly simple: they are animated corpses that wish to feed on the flesh of the living. The reasons for the animation and the motivation for the specific diet are seldom explained. Just about any attempt to change zombies in any way (such as making them move quickly instead of shambling around) is seen as a heretical deviation. It’s not surprising geeks have affection for zombies; these creatures are arrested in their existence, unable to change or grow. Geeks feel a oneness with them. And although zombies are frightening to look at, they don’t seem on the surface to be a serious threat, but their numbers and sheer tenacity make them possibly the most sinister killers of all. This is another thing geeks like to think they feel a oneness with; the underestimated lethal threat. Also, zombies desire, above all else, brains.
The truth is, zombies are just about the easiest monsters in the world to “do”. As noted above, one can happily ignore their origins and motivations. they just “are”, which supposedly makes them more scary. A zombie “costume” is pretty much just your standard “hobo” costume, only with fake blood added. For a zombie game you simply throw humans in a town with some guns, and then have zombies run at them until a player does something that makes them “win”. Sometimes in a zombie movie a “cure” is found for the zombies, but usually even if the hero gets away the message is that the zombies will win. Like zombies, the stuff creates itself.
Through zombies, geeks can band together and collectively show their disdain for the “hive mind” and “establishment”, and this is why geeks LOVE zombies.