GORDON: Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrraaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaiiiiiiiiiiiiinnsss. I mean: Welcome to this week’s installment of Gordon and Evan Talk. Our subject for today: Zombies, have we had enough already?
EVAN: Answer: yes.
GORDON: Have we though? The media keeps on pumping out zombie show/game/story/you-name-it, and we keep gobbling them down like, well, zombies.
EVAN: Just because media is consumed doesn’t mean the market isn’t overflooded with it, though.
GORDON: This is true, but isn’t the implication that for whatever reason, the subject of zombies speaks to us on a deep level?
EVAN: That is the implication, and I think it’s true. So do other people, and it’s really well summarized in the following video:
If you really can’t spare the six minutes to watch it, let me try to summarize things. Zombies can be used as a canvas through which to tell a wide range of stories, whether they be about the lengths man will turn to survive, or what exactly it is we’re afraid of.
GORDON: And with this in mind, what’s the problem? Clearly this does speak to us on a fundamental level, and, as the video rightly points out, zombie stories are actually pretty varied. If it’s (deeply) relevant, and our artists are still churning them out, how can we say we’ve had enough?
EVAN: We can tell a wide variety of stories through zombie literature, film, et cetera, but that doesn’t make the stories that are being made good, and it doesn’t erase the fact that the same can be said of almost anything. A romantic comedy can be told within the concept of space, but interplanetary exploration isn’t exactly what’s popping up in everything from Austen to most video games.
It’s a trend that’s spiraled out of control, to the point that those who are creating zombie media are doing so expecting it to appeal to us.
GORDON: No one is going to argue that media doesn’t play to the lowest common denominator, or push out lazy, mass-produced junk. But show me a popular trend on this level that isn’t run into the ground twice over-
EVAN: So you’re saying that just because other trends have been run into the ground, why can’t we do the same to this one?
GORDON: That’s a criticism of our profit-fueled culture, not zombies.
EVAN: The fact of the matter is, we’re running out of ways to keep things, ahem, “fresh.” We have documentary-style literature, infection games, appearances in both the Marvel and DC universes, and even romance novels that all cater to zombie fans. We’re getting to the point where we’re exhausting what few options are left.
GORDON: So zombies are everywhere? What’s the problem? It doesn’t seem to be edging anyone else out, and even if it is being shilled out as a means of appealing to the greatest number of people, that’s hardly a major qualm we can have against the living dead. Seeing as how if it weren’t zombies, it’d be something else.
EVAN: It is “always something,” but we’ve never had a trend permeate so much of our culture as much as zombies have. Your question was “have we had enough already,” and I again answer “yes.”
I love zombie literature, I love the idea of survival in the face of an unfeeling undead horde. All that being said, I am getting sick of zombies. If they really are a valuable way to tell stories, maybe we should let the sub-genre rest for a spell. We’re going to hit some sort of cultural zombie fatigue eventually, and it’s going to be sooner than later.
GORDON: So what you’re saying is, we haven’t hit it yet? Sounds to me like we haven’t had enough just quite yet.
EVAN: Hitting that fatigue is not what defines us having had enough.
Using myself as an example- if I’ve eaten a plate or so of food, that’s my having had enough. If I go up and get another plate and a half, that’s too much, I’m going to get sick, even if I want it. You’ve observed this many a time.
GORDON: That I have. But unlike food, we’re not about to puke up and lose all the z-culture we’ve accumulated over the years- it’ll just die down until whatever stars align for it to rise in popularity again
EVAN: Just because something can recover doesn’t mean we have to push it to its absolute limit. Again, if something really does have some kind of value, through storytelling or otherwise, we should respect that and not wring the life out of it.
GORDON: But we’ve got nothing to lose except some more good zombie stories by jumping ship now…
EVAN: Honestly, the vast majority of new zombie fiction is not great. I’ve tried reading a great deal of it, and at this point the genre peaked a while ago.
GORDON: Since when does a genre peak? Good quality stories can come at any time- there’s no way we can simply throw our hands up in the air and say “Well, we’ve done everything we can here…”
EVAN: But as we mentioned, the market is so overcrowded that what good stuff is drowned in an ocean of mediocrity.
GORDON: That’s hardly a good argument. We pull the plug on the whole thing because it’s getting tougher to find the gems? That’s unfair to both the creator and the audience.
EVAN: I’m not saying pull the plug, I’m saying ease off the gas.
GORDON: You’ve twice now said “We’ve had enough”- not quite the same thing as saying “ease up.” And what exactly does that mean, anyways? Is it a call to the consumer or the creator?
EVAN: We’ve had enough. Let’s slow things down. Let’s acknowledge as consumers that zombies don’t have to appear in “Call of Duty” or “Red Dead Redemption.” As creators of art let’s be real with ourselves and think that maybe the world doesn’t need another zombie novel, or am I doing exactly what’s already been done before.
GORDON: But is that realistic? The smaller creators and perpetrators of the subject of zombies each naturally think that theirs is a unique take, and the companies and entertainment corporations who pump out the run-of-the-mill bilge aren’t exactly concerned with uniqueness to begin with.
Isn’t what you’re saying that we need to be more selective? And if so, what separates a good zombie story from a lousy one?
EVAN: I don’t really understand the question. As someone who I know to be both critical and discerning of quality, I think you’d be able to answer that for yourself.
The fact that things like this make money is why people believe adding zombie to anything equals money, or worse, genuine interest.
GORDON: And again, that all comes down to the issue not of zombies, but of not mindlessly consuming whatever entertainment we can lay our cold, dead hands on…
…okay, maybe it does come down to the issue of zombies…
But with that, we’re out of time. Be sure to stop by next week where Evan and I will be talking about either: “Can we label people as being ‘evil’?”
EVAN: Or: Does accurate racial casting really matter? There’s also a third option open for suggestions.
GORDON:Thanks again, and- and- aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa-
BRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIINNNNNNNNNNNNNSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! [did zombies ever actually say brains?]
EVAN: You are a tremendous doofus.