April 15, 2011

"That is actual misanthropy disguised as entertainment, appealing to the grossest things inside you, and I hate it."

Jacob of Television Without Pity explains why he "fucking hate[s] zombie things" — a propos of last night's Ford commercial on "American Idol," with Scotty, et al., made up as zombies:
... I hate zombie apocalypses, because they imply that other people are an obstruction to you getting through your day and would be better off getting shot through the head. The sweet release of just opening fire on a crowd of people because they're not as special and alive as you are: That is disgusting. That is actual misanthropy disguised as entertainment, appealing to the grossest things inside you, and I hate it.... 
[T]hink about the people you know that love zombies the most. Not the girls who pretend to like zombies and video games so boys will think they've found a unicorn, because those girls are worthless anyway; not the AMC dads or Twilight moms who are trying to be down with the kids these days. They have no effect on culture whatsoever.
I'm talking about your nerdy grumpy jerkoff friend who likes porn and zombies and dark shock-humor and hates women because he's scared of them and loves Tyrion Lannister more than anything and thinks his sarcasm is a defense or that being a cynic opts you out: That asshole. That's who you're being when you play along with the zombie bullshit. Don't do it. It's bad for the part of you that is still alive.
Hmmm... Jason seems to think he's more alive than those people he hates because they think they are more alive?

That reminds me of this part of "My Dinner With Andre":
ANDRE: [W]e're just walking around in some kind of fog. I think we're all in a trance! We're walking around like zombies! I don't think we're even aware of ourselves or our own reaction to things, we're just going around all day like unconscious machines, I mean, while there's all of this rage and worry and uneasiness just building up and building up inside us!
So is the current fascination with zombies because, in some ways, we feel like zombies — we identify or we want to scare ourselves into coming back to life? Or is it that we perceive others as the zombies, and there is something pretty sick about our misanthropy?

81 comments:

test said...

mmmm....brains

traditionalguy said...

If Zombies are the dead among us, then we seem to have 2 choices: 1) throw them away like dead bodies that need to be cremated to cleanse the place, or 2)restore them to the born again life begun on Easter morning. Choices, choices.

ricpic said...

The present day fascination with vampires is far more telling about the state of the world than zombie fixation.

Coketown said...

Current fascination? This stupid zombie meme has been a persistent cultural undercurrent for almost 10 years now. At least in the past it took a break once in a while.

Even more irritating is when people read too much into zombies. No, our fascination with them isn't that we project ourselves onto them. It isn't that zombies reflect our present cultural malaise. Zombies appeal to our fascination with the uncanny. That's all. They're a lot like us, but not quite. Very freakish. I can't stop staring.

Mike said...

I went and read the original post. I think that person needs some professional help.

Nice Tyrion Lannister reference. Too bad that in those books "The Others" are essentially un-dead zombies that come back every 1,000 years to kill everyone. So what's the difference between fantasy zombies & current zombie apocalypses?

ricpic said...

Who fears zombies? They're just dead weight. Vampires, on the other hand, suck the blood out of us. Zippy is a zombie-vampire. But his robotic walking dead rhetoric is of no concern; it's his lust to suck our blood that is fatal.

Shanna said...

It's Jacob. That was a very Jacob thing to say, too.

I don't care for zombies because those movies are generally very depressing, everyone is dying and turning into monsters and you (and your rag tag group of friends) are the only people left in the world! Not my favorite form of entertainment.

That said, I loved Zombieland.

d-day said...

Ann - Error in your post: It's not Jason, it's Jacob.

He's the most interesting writer over there.

SteveR said...

They put out some good music, Odyssey and Oracle, in particular.

Shanna said...

He's the most interesting writer over there.

He is, but sometimes he's a little over the top too. I do love the Doctor Who recaps (well back when they used to recap that show). I don't watch AI anymore, but I almost never agreed with him on that show.

lemondog said...

[T]hink about the people you know that love zombies the most.

Sorry don’t know any such people

So is the current fascination with zombies because, in some ways, we feel like zombies..

Seems an old theme given rebirth (no pun, etc) every generation. ... Invasion of The Body Snatchers (old and recent), The Man In The Gray Flannel Suit, Pleasantville......

PatHMV said...

I hate people who hate people because of what they think!

Bushman of the Kohlrabi said...

Zombie rule 26:

#26 Cardio - Zombies lead a very active lifestyle, so should you

AJ Lynch said...

"I hate zombie apocalypses, because they imply that other people are an obstruction to you getting through your day and would be better off getting shot through the head. "

Jeezus this guy needs to lighten up. It's only a movie or a TV show.

Smilin' Jack said...

The sweet release of just opening fire on a crowd of people because they're not as special and alive as you are: That is disgusting. That is actual misanthropy disguised as entertainment....

Only a zombie or a zomsymp (just as bad) would find zombie-shooting disgusting. Shoot him, and remember to double-tap.

traditionalguy said...

Ricpic...The economic blood Count Obama is sucking out of the USA's veins is cheap oil and coal. Can you imagine in WWII if Obama could have talked Germany into building windmills and giving up their conquered Romanian oil fields? If we could have made Germany fall for that stupidity trick, the war would have ended in 3 months.

Mary Beth said...

How many TV shows/movies can we have where the bad guys have a British accent? At least zombies don't complain that they are being misrepresented.

Scott M said...

Misanthropy has zero to do with it. Unfortunately, I typed out a lengthy comment, but blogger nuked it. I'll boil it down to bullet points.

1) Zombies are no different than the tidal wave in The Poseiden Adventure or the comet in "Deep Impact". They are the disaster, no the antagonists.

2) The surge in zombie fiction, of which I'm not really an aficionado with the exception of Max Brook's WWZ, is due to the many different ways authors are bending the genre. Imagine "Little Women" written with the same characters dealing with the walking blight.

3) Tyrian Lannister is simply the most compelling character in that series. I can't imagine any but the most pasty, mom's-basement-dwelling fanbois "loving" him. The mini-series starts Sunday on HBO, though, btw.

4) During the Cold War, WWIII nuclear end of the world was what we all dealt with. But, for the most part, it was unthinkable and unrelatable. Plus, the survivors in nuke fiction were scrabbling over a barren, dead, landscape. Zombie end of society is much different. We've all seen the massive natural disasters and we've all seen mobs and riots, however vicariously. It's easier to imagine. Plus, the survivors have the bulk of the Old World to use for survival, not a burned out cinder of a planet.

To sum up, there's nothing misanthropic about it. It's a fear of the end of society. I can remember leaving the theater a few years back after the remake of Dawn Of The Dead (the one in the mall). I was nearly on empty when I got to the theater but I was in a hurry to meet friends.

Afterward, I got in my car, remembered I was on E, and headed to the nearest station...but it struck me that given what I'd just seen, there would be no "just heading down to the nearest station" for anything. Food, fuel, etc. As a father, that scares the shit out of me.

No...I don't have a bomb shelter and I'm not necessarily a prepper. I do have bugout bags, but, why do you not?

AFG said...

That guy just owned my fucking life. TYRION!!!!!!!!

PJ said...

Jacob, get over yourself. Neither zombies nor humans were harmed or even pretend-harmed in the making of this commercial. AI was even thoughtful enough to prepare sensitive viewers like you by showing footage of the filming right before airing the offending commercial, so there could be no mistake about whether something terrible had really happened to the zombie-idols. And what did the pretend-zombie-idols in the commercial want to do? They wanted to sit the car and rock out to the stereo, not eat the poor pretend-frightened idols! If your mind goes to "the sweet release of just opening fire" when you see that Ford commercial, I'm way more afraid of you than of zombies.

BarrySanders20 said...

Sometimes a zombie is just a zombie.

Zach said...

The Romero generation of zombies fits the "not as alive as you" description better than the current generation, which has much more aggressive and threatening zombies.

I've often thought that the "28 Days Later" generation of zombies was a sublimation of 9/11 anxiety. Here you have aggressive, pursuing zombies who attack fanatically for no reason that the audience understands.

Zombies don't evoke superiority anymore. They invoke anxiety and insecurity. The terrorists are after you, they're not concerned about dying, and you don't really understand why.

Bryan C said...

Zombies are nature anthropomorphized: Uncaring, unsympathetic, unthinking, and always hungry. Stripped of civilization and humanity it's nothing but dirt and death and sickness and pain, and it wants you back.

Erik said...

The Tyrion Lannister reference hit me hard because not only am I re-reading Game of Thrones right now, but I know quite a few people who love the character. Not in the love-em-and-hate-em kind of way, either. In any case, I can sympathize with this position on zombies, and have even had similar thoughts about it before. It's important to understand that not all zombie fiction approaches them in the same way. This perspective on zombies does actually represent a dominant trope within geek culture, and there's nothing wrong with pointing that out. But it is by no means the only perspective. The George Romero-esque zombie flicks? Absolutely. Others? Not always so much.

J said...

Zombies?

not exactly. they're just protestants, like afflicted with calvinism or mormonism, mostly in the so-called "Tea Party"

Freeman Hunt said...

The current fascination with zombies stems from their being the most humorous of monsters, and humor is in.

Revenant said...

I like the zombie genre.

Sofa King said...

The zombie genre simply refuses to die.

Dad said...

You're going to have to back off of Tyrion. I mean, I don't love him more than anything but I *do* love him more than most of the others in the Song of Ice & Fire. Most of the other adults, anyway.

Beth said...

Ann, I don't know if you ever watch Community or not, but a week or two ago they did an episode that was a big homage to My Dinner with Andre. It made me think of you!

Tim Sisk said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe said...

(The Crypto Jew)
but it struck me that given what I'd just seen, there would be no "just heading down to the nearest station" for anything. Food, fuel, etc. As a father, that scares the shit out of me.


My Life Partner is Immuno-Suppressed, so the CEZA or the Omega Man or any Post-Apocalypse film, or a Glenn Beck Show for that matter, leaves me strangely cold. My Partner couldn’t survive 30-90 days in such a world…so it’s pointless for me to worry…So even watching movies/TV or whatever leaves me cold…MOST people “think” they’d make it, somehow…I just know that without Modern Technic Civilization the Centre of My Universe would die a slow and unpleasant death. So end of the world movies or thoughts, really ARE the end of the world, for me. A bug-out bag does me little good, I could have M-61 Vulcan Cannon and 10,000 rounds and 10 years of food, but in 90 days, more than likely the thing, I value in life, would be gone.

Ann Althouse said...

Jacob... Jason... those overused J names of the last quarter century!

Come back to John and James, you J-name fans.

Scott M said...

Bugouts aren't for the end of the world. They're for whatever might come down the pike including tornados, floods, zombies, etc. A weeks worth of everything, some cash, and copies of important documents.

Ann Althouse said...

"Ann, I don't know if you ever watch Community or not, but a week or two ago they did an episode that was a big homage to My Dinner with Andre. It made me think of you!"

I don't even know what "Community" is, but I will try to find it.

lemondog said...

Carnival of Souls 1962

Spooooky

Ann Althouse said...

Found it. Will watch.

E.M. Davis said...

I don't even know what "Community" is, but I will try to find it.

Community is a television show for people who love television shows. This week, there was entire class devoted to solving the conundrum of "Who's The Boss?"

Also, it was created by Dan Harmon, former resident of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Trooper York said...

What a backhanded American Idol post.

Trooper York said...

Glad they got rid of bogus Rod Stewart guy now they have to dump bullshit Joe Cocker bass dude and we will be cookin'

Trooper York said...

I think it is gonna be Pumpkin Head Randy Travis voice kid vs Heavy Metal Tourettes Rocker dude in the finale.

Shanna said...

Tyrian Lannister is simply the most compelling character in that series.

Absolutely! Can't wait to see the show because the previews look gorgeous.

Scott M said...

absolutely! Can't wait to see the show because the previews look gorgeous.

I watched the first 10 minutes last night on the official website. The production values are excellent and they are leaning toward the more realistic look for feudal/medieval existence, ie, everyone looks like shit, but in a rugged, handsome way.

Freeman Hunt said...

Zombies are funny. This guy doesn't like zombies because they are funnier than him.

Shaun of the Dead

Zombieland

Even when they aren't treated humorously, how can one not like zombies? Other monsters rely on individual strength. Zombies are individually weak. Sort of a swarm monster. Something different.

The sweet release of just opening fire on a crowd of people because they're not as special and alive as you are: That is disgusting.

It's not that they aren't special... it's that they're zombies, you know, undead monsters trying to kill people. Why would killing the murderous animated dead be morally "disgusting?"

Maybe Jacob would like to start a Zombie Humane Society.

J said...

Platinum-blond, WASP GOP bimbos---


definitely good sign of Zombieness.

Scram!

Shanna said...

It's not that they aren't special... it's that they're zombies, you know, undead monsters trying to kill people. Why would killing the murderous animated dead be morally "disgusting?"

I think the knowledge that they were once people is what is disconcerting there. (not that there is a reason to suppose that people who enjoy zombie movies only enjoy them because of the shooting of zombies-I agree with the humor component mentioned above. I think you could do something interesting with a Pride and Prejudice and Zombies movie).

J said...

My Dinner with Andre.

Well, maybe Cordon Negro, A. that izz, ex post facto, and assuming everything went all raht....

Scott M said...

That was another thing they taught us at Willow Creek: don't write their eulogy

From the after-action report of a downed pilot in heavily infested bijou country.

themightypuck said...

Zombies are boring. Give me a villain with personality.

Paddy O said...

We need enemies if we're going to have heroism.

In the past, we had Nazis, Communists, other races, other religions, other cities, other cultures, etc. and so on. But now, that's all forbidden exploration, so the undead are the other who the PC folks don't worry about.

Humans like challenge and conflict, especially physical. But our society doesn't really have a lot of physical opposition or danger, so we play at it. Play not just being imagination time, it's also an innate approach to preparing for possible future situations without offending any people group.

Also, what Coketown said.

David said...

All this raises the question of whether anyone has pointed Althouse to the episode of Community that makes fun of/is an homage to My Dinner with Andre. Very funny.

http://www.hulu.com/watch/225304/community-critical-film-studies

Freeman Hunt said...

But now, that's all forbidden exploration, so the undead are the other who the PC folks don't worry about.

Until now.

Dose of Sanity said...

I am a giant zombie fan. Take that what you will.

AMC's walking dead was excellent.

4thGenerationBuck said...

I don't like it that Zombies seem to have begun working out. New Zombie movies have speedy quick brain eaters, I liked 'em better when they were slow and easy to hit and outrun.

Fred4Pres said...

We like the idea of shooting zombies because they want to eat you while you are still alive. I generally have a problem with that.

Vampires are for tween girls and closted gays.

Tibore said...

"The sweet release of just opening fire on a crowd of people because they're not as special and alive as you are: That is disgusting. That is actual misanthropy disguised as entertainment, appealing to the grossest things inside you, and I hate it..."

You see, the difference between him and us is that the rest of us just want to enjoy our misanthropy. Hence, shooting zombies. In the head!!!

Take some joy in cathartic release, Jacob. Kill a zombie. You think you'll hate it, but the reality is that you draw lines all around you all the same, just like anyone else does between them and "the other". You just think you're better than everyone else because of where you put that line and who's on the other side of it.

Fred4Pres said...

And Walking Dead rocked. I like that they made the decision that no zombie would move faster than any zombie in George Romero's Night of the Living Dead. That is classy.

Dark Eden said...

I always thought zombies were popular because they combine the good parts of monster movies and disaster movies.

Personally I find them boring because I prefer an antagonist with working brain cells.

Don said...

so now i have to read the song of fire and ice trilogy to be culturally literate? What is it with the double R guys? Anyway the wiki for the show says this "Tyrion Lannister, is Tywin's third child, a misshapen dwarf nicknamed The Imp and The Halfman. Though he is shrewd, educated, and calculating, he receives little respect from Tywin because of the death of his mother during his birth. He is capable of cruelty to his enemies, but also has great sympathy for fellow outcasts and the mistreated." And now I remember why I don't pick up fantasy titles. As for zombies, some zombie movies are great (i.e. Dead Snow, Zombieland) others suck (Shaun of the Dead). Jeezus Keerist people, its not an all or nothing world.

Fred4Pres said...

And BTW, what is with this brain stuff? Zombies eat living flesh (brains being just part of the buffet). George Romero is the master of the zombie genera, and his zombies do not focus on brains.

Where in any of the classic zombie movies do the living dead focus on feeding on brains? This bothers me. The only brain focus in zombie movies is you nead a head shot to take a zombie out.

Now I heard that they wanted to suggest the mutants in I Am Legend really want unaffected human adrenal glands and that the chemically affected Reavers in Serenity wanted living human flesh so as to also get certain hormones released during times of extreme stress and pain. Okay that is fine for those stories (and works for me), but neither are what I would call zombies.

Preston said...

I think it is all George Bush's fault.

J said...

Zombies??

Those aren't zombies....they're the wifeys of the reigning Supreme Court vampires!

Don Bela Scalioso, and consort

Synova said...

"New Zombie movies have speedy quick brain eaters, I liked 'em better when they were slow and easy to hit and outrun."

Ah, those were the days. When zombies were slow, and vampires were evil.

;-)

Fred4Pres said...

Do fast zombies eat brains? I do not recall that in 28 Days Later (which I consider the leading movie in the "fast zombie" pantheon of zombie movies). Who comes up with this stuff?

Fred4Pres said...

I prefer slow zombies slow because the threat has to be glacial. That you think it under control and then suddenly you are out of ammunition and surrounded. Fast zombies are too much.


The best vampires (in my opinion) were in 30 Days of Night. They were evil, scary and smart.

Fred4Pres said...

Why don't zombies die of starvation when the living get thinned out? A moving zombie is going to consumer calories and eventually run out (especially when they restrict their diet to living flesh in short supply). That never gets fully explained. The Walking Dead showed zombies eating horses, deer and rats, but it seems hard to believe slow zombies could catch horses, deer or rats (granted the horse was surrounded and the deer was already shot by an arrow by an unaffected human).

Synova said...

I'm not a monster movie fan. I don't do zombies. I don't do vampires.

In any case, I thought I'd point out that the desire to keep the dead, dead, is hardly something new, but like the fear of the dark it's primal and shows up in any number of religions and superstitions. Like the afterlife. Rituals to send the dead person on their way... so they don't get stuck. Rituals to protect their spirit from being stolen. That sort of thing.

And fear of dead people is likely also related to fear of disease and in various cultures those who dealt with the dead might be segregated from the rest of the population.

Zombies give us two things... fear of contagion and soul-trapped loved ones.

It's not by accident that any Zombie movie involves (one way or another) someone having to deal with someone they love getting turned into a zombie. In that recent TV series (I can't retrieve the name ATM) that got good reviews, the one man stayed in his house long after everyone else living was gone because his wife had turned and he didn't want to leave her. He knew he had to stay until he could shoot her, and he never could do it, even though she wandered up to the house every night. The main character went back to a top-half of a zombie he'd seen trying to pull itself across a park to shoot it, not because it could hurt anyone, but because it *was* human and not dying was a horror.

That's far, far, from some sort of glee in an excuse to go around shooting people who aren't as alive as you are. Even in some Resident Evil type thing with Fast Zombies doing a zerg rush there is still the understanding that the zombies used to be people with families.

And while it may be true that some element of alienation and isolation as the only "real" people among all the others is used to good effect, the main reason Zombies will always be popular is that the special effects can be done on a micro-budget. Try doing that with werewolves.

Trooper York said...

I thought the Zombies were just another overrated 60's band?

Trooper York said...

Shouldn't we have a bunch of links to youtube videos of their greatest hits?

It's that time of the season for zombies.

Oligonicella said...

If you think about it, zombies turn the time-honored rule of "don't go up" on its head.

Go up and take a baseball bat with you. The zombies are horrible at climbing stairs; slow, clumsy and always off balance. They're drawn to you like flies to honey. Stand there and as soon as the melon is in the strike range - *Swing!*.

If there's a shitload of zombies, it's best to have a buddy to spell you.

Trooper York said...

Hello....Hello...HELLLOOOOOOO!!!!

I guess the blogger lady is not going to defend another overrated baby boomer musical greasespot.

No answer. I guess she's not there.

Oh well. It is Friday night. Meadehouse must be out having unionized waiters spitting in their food about now. Salud.

Trooper York said...

Just a guess. If she offers you a bite of her sandwich just tell her no.

Oligonicella said...

Alternatively, if you know there's a swarm. Find a smaller, but tall apartment building. Prime the first two floors with plastic gas cans.

Find the swarm and walk fast enough that they almost keep up. Climb the stairs (taking the occasional break for batting practice) and make sure they jam up a flight below you.

Dash those last two flights, repel down and torch the place.

Victor Erimita said...

We don't think of ourselves as zombies. Others are the subhuman zombies trying to eat us, so we need to blast and chop away at them.

We think of ourselves as vampires. At least that explains the current meme of vampires as erotic emos rather than deadly parasites.

brakewater said...

I stopped reading TWOP specifically after a Jacob recap of Idol Gives Back, in which he said: "... then we meet some people from ExxonMobil and Esso Angola, who say with a straight face that they give a fuck about saving the lives of the people they're murdering,"

Really, Jacob hates capitalism and is as big as a leftist loon as Obama's fanbase. Say what you want about oil companies, but showing up to AI with a $1M check to end malaria is a class move. Yeah, they want to murder people. Angola is thriving because of oil companies.

Penny said...

The "Walking Dead" vs "Blood Suckers"?

Pretend this is an "Extreme Sport", with you in the audience, betting your family savings on the outcome of this "DEATH MATCH".

Place your wagers... NOW.

Best of luck to everyone!

Trooper York said...

I don't read TWOP and have declared a fatwa against them as they have banned me as a commenter after only five comments. They are tight assed control freaks who are controlled by Bravo who should spend more time worrying about Randy Andy Cohen and his obsession with underage Weiners.

I hope they move next door to a Japanese nuclear reactor.

Trooper York said...

I am talking to you Kay Howard you
syphilitic whore.

Freeman Hunt said...

I loved how zombie speed was used in the Dawn of the Dead remake. You expect that they'll be slow, and then...

AHHH!

Startling and funny at the same time.

I think zombie movies are generally good horror movies for people who aren't really into horror movies. Zombies are the least frightening of monsters. They're not at all cunning and rarely depicted as evil. The traditional slow ones aren't fast enough to leap out from anywhere. Really they're more annoying than threatening.

In fact, I'd go so far as to say that the viewer Jacob describes is usually not into zombies. Zombies aren't scary or evil enough. Misanthropic viewers like that are usually into villains like Pinhead, Leatherface, or Jigsaw.

As to the Tyrion Lannister part of the equation, I can't speak to that. Had no idea who Tyrion Lannister was, and when I looked it up, the long fantasy plot description immediately started annoying me, and I stopped reading it.

Ann Althouse said...

I watched that episode of "Community." Pretty good. Nicely put together with a lot of detail, and the actors were cute.

RuyDiaz said...

Jacob may be generalizing a bit too much. The key of a zombie apocalypse is not the zombies, but the apocalypse: it is the story of the survivors banding together, dealing with their feelings and their loss that really matter, to my at least.