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Not your fathers’ zombies

June 18, 2012

For those keeping track, my computer is now working again. Hurrah! Risen from the dead by a new power supply! So I updated the Zombie Bill Bonner post with an unimpressive image; not that these posts are ever so great but at least for now I can’t use the excuse of a broken computer.

Meanwhile, the zombie news has shifted somewhat since Memorial Day and the Miami Causeway zombie media feeding frenzy. While the past few months I have been blogging interesting zombie political rhetoric all over the place, now, the word having exploded these past few weeks, it is seeming to die down. The zombie news this weekend is primarily video games, movies and other more expected references. The political references are less noticeable. And though political ‘end of days’ are near, by way of the presidential election and the student loan and sequester budget cut deadline, it seems like political news editors are perhaps starting to tire of the ambiguous descriptor “zombie”.

But one recent zombie movie is also notably political – the Cuban zombie-comedy (“zom-com”) movie “Juan de los Muetos” (reviewed by Fox News Latino). It’s a satire about zombies and political dissidents. Yes, you read correctly, a Cuban movie satire about political dissidence – and the Cuban censors didn’t censor it. The Fox News article is by Arlene Delgado:

juan muertos

what’s most interesting about this joint Cuban-Spanish production (filmed in Havana starring a Cuban cast) is the subtle yet discernible criticism of the island’s regime.

First, when the zombie outbreak begins, the Cuban government’s television broadcast claims the zombies are dissidents or pawns paid off by the Americans. There is no mistaking the filmmakers’ mocking of the Castroite regime’s decades-long stance of ‘blaming all ills on the United States.’

Second, Lazaro is fairly certain the zombies cannot be dissidents because, well, the one zombie he knows was too much of a coward to be a dissident.

Third, in one particularly startling scene, Lazaro’s twenty-something, handsome son nicknamed “California,” states:

“I want to get the hell out of here and go around the world. If they ask me where I’m from, I’ll say ‘Cuba.’ If they ask me ‘What’s Cuba?,’ I’ll say ‘A socialist island in the Caribbean.’ If they ask me ‘What’s socialism?’, I’ll tell them ‘A system installed by Fidel Castro fifty years ago.’”

Additional eyebrow-raising moments include Juan, training his motley crew in zombie-killing, notes that, unlike the Yankees (Cuban slang for Americans), the zombies are a “real” enemy.

The article also explains:

While fishing, Lazaro muses he has no desire to escape to Miami – after all, there he’d have to actually work. Minutes later, zombies arise and the film takes off, culminating in Juan and his rag-tag neighborhood posse starting a zombie-disposal business.

This issue of having to work seems directly related to the original zombie idea from Haiti, of all night workers in the sugar mills. Of course, both Haiti and Cuba are Caribbean islands but what a difference a little history can make.

Meanwhile, contrast that movie plot with this recent one-minute independent short youtube film. This story is ostensibly about preparing for work but the twist-ending reveals that the character is not interested in the zombie-disposal business:

Both the Cuban zom-com and this (presumably American) youtube video reveal that both these nations are not the countries they once were. Questionable if they ever were, but clearly these are not the characters described in Cold War era history.

And so, Happy Fathers’ Day to all the coffee-drinking Zombie Dads. This is not the world our fathers knew but we are haunted by their dreams.

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