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Zombies Symbols of Hispanic Demographics

April 4, 2013

HuffPost today: “Hispanics Love ‘The Walking Dead’: Zombie Mania Takes Latinos By Storm In The US And Abroad” by Kim Piston of VOXXI also citing from VOXXI: “Hispanic moviegoers: What they watch and why Hollywood should listen” posted March 12, 2013 By Rosana Ubanell.

And if Hollywood should listen, so too, Washington. Recall that the Republican party is desperately trying to capture more of the Latino vote because of the increasing demographic size and because currently the group is largely biased toward the Democrats. Winning the Latino vote will be crucial for future presidential elections.

Meanwhile in related news, Associated Press has changed it’s style guide to remove “illegal immigrants” (except in direct quotes) and replace with more specific information about the person’s situation. See AP: “‘Illegal immigrant’ no more” by Paul Colford

This is wonderful news. First, it suggests that words still matter (are they going to remove “zombie” as an adjective too? – it’s apparently one of the most popular English words pulled from foreign language according to DailyMail: “Think you’re speaking English? Think again… How the language’s most popular words such as booze and zombie originated overseas” by Francesca Infante).

Secondly, it reminds us that criminality is about actions and behaviors not about persons. We are supposed to criminalize behavior not persons and the idea of any person being “illegal” is reprehensible to democratic civil society. This also reminds me of the language in the current gun control debates. “Assault” is a behavior NOT the a property of a gun and similarly we can’t keep guns away from “criminals” because “criminals” are just people. People are not “criminal”, their past behavior may have been, but they are not — let’s hope for a style guide about that. When we call people criminals because they have committed crimes, we treat them as if they will always be criminals and therefore they are likely to become that role we project for them.

Others may retort: past behavior is a good indication of future behavior, and this is no doubt true. But the purpose of criminal law should be to adjust behavior for socialization not brand people with scarlet letters. So-called assault weapons are dangerous machines but all weapons can be assault weapons (actually isn’t that what makes it a weapon?) and all weapons can also be art. All people can be criminals but when we create labels and discriminate, and when really it has a lot more to do with race and social class than with the objectionable behaviors, it hurts people.

As the AP Senior Vice President and Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll explains (in Colford’s post):

while labels may be more facile, they are not accurate.

Consider again, Kafka’s “The Trial” and the function of the Super-Ego in reprimanding Ego for whatever it decides. The zombies create a definitive separation between us and them but there is no us and them – we are all just people – the category distinctions are interesting but they are not permanent structures of the persons. Hispanics are a group but we are all people. The social scientist in me wants to analyze the differences amongst the subgroups but the “us vs. them” is what’s killing us. There is no Hispanic demographic. There is no woman. As Žižek writes “Woman is One of the Names-of-the-Father…”:

The paradox of the phallic function (which symmetrically inverts the paradox of the feminine not-all) is therefore that the phallic function acts as its own self-limitation, that it posits its own exception.

But for the schizophrenic Artaud: “I, Antonin Artaud, am my son, my father, my mother, and myself.” “…got no papamummy.” Like Robert Heinlein: “All you zombies” which references the song: “I’m my own grandpaw“:

We are all equal under the law. And yet this creates its own oppression because objectively we are not equal. William Blake: “One Law for the Lion and the Ox is Oppression”, and so we band together with like groups and make enemies of otherness… And with global connectivity maintain distant roots and no longer live with our local neighbors. In a sense we have all become a network of infiltrators within our own local communities, each bringing potentially dangerous ideas from our own affiliations.

And finally, speaking of labeling people – See this Whitehouse Petition: “Require Congressmen & Senators to wear logos of their financial backers on their clothing, much like NASCAR drivers do.

UpWorthy: “I Can’t Wait To See The Obama Administration’s Reply To This Amazing And Totally Ridiculous Petition” by Victoria Fine:

If they get enough signatures, maybe the White House can cite to the AP style guide quote above and suggest we focus on the issue of how to reform campaign finance without labeling people. And remember Nascars are labeled with logos because they want not because they are required. We have no idea who is actually funding Nascar teams we only know to whom they sold some of the advertisement space. Nascar funding is probably less transparent than politics. And even after a year of tracking zombie law memes, I still really have no idea all the various conflicting players funding the five billion dollar zombie meme… These systems are complex and should not be attributed to individual labels and think it all that significant. There are MORE THAN two kinds of people in this world.…. and yet symbols are still so powerful….

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