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NYTimes mixes Zombie chasers

June 23, 2013

Maureen Dowd, opinion columnist at the New York Times has referred to “zombie” again this weekend. Recall last month’s Zombielaw post of all Maureen Dowd’s prior “zombie” mentions. Today she writes in reference to Brad Pitt‘s new movie version of Max Brook’s “World War Z” and monster metaphors, in “A Zombie Scare With a Zombie Chaser“:

zombie maureen dowd nytimes

Vampires have always been rich fodder for metaphors, standing in for everything from bloodthirsty capitalism to AIDS to teenage desire.

Max Brooks, the son of Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft, who wrote the book the movie is based on, told The Times that his zombies were proxies for everything scary that has happened since 2001: 9/11, Iraq, Afghanistan, Katrina, anthrax letters, global warming, global financial meltdown, bird flu, swine flu and SARS.

The anxiety that we may have doomed ourselves and our planet through our own heedlessness pervades the culture.

But the metaphor about the broken global system is less vivid than the metaphor about the broken Hollywood system.

Dowd also mentions Bela Lugosi‘s “White Zombie” and the Center for Disease Control‘s zombie emergency preparation and also the rumalcoholic cocktails, which according to Ava Gardner (via Peter Evans) is:

“Bacardi, dark rum, light rum, pineapple juice, lime juice, apricot brandy, orange juice, a sprig of mint and a cherry.”

But, she advised, the secret of a good zombie is this: “Hold the mint and the cherry.”

And speaking of Max Brooks and the zombie New York Times, there is a truly wonderful profile of Max in the Times Magazine this week, “Max Brooks Is Not Kidding About the Zombie Apocalypse” by Taffy Brodesser-Akner. The profile does an amazing job of capturing Brooks style of dead-serious-comedy while also conveying a sense of the underlying fears that motivate him (including obligatory references to his parents and job writing for SNL).

zombie david brooks nytimes

While on the topic of NYTimes opinions, we should also refer to David Brooks two columns this week: “The Humanist Vocation” and “Beyond the Brain“. Brooks (no known relation to Max and Mel, right?) doesn’t use the word “zombie” but both of his recent editorials are highly related to zombie themes. First, the humanist project is directly opposed to notions of becoming zombie (see also “Perhaps Culture is Now the Counterculture” A Defense of the Humanities a 2013 graduation speech by Leon Wieseltier to Brandies University in New Republic). Second, BRAINS! Brooks addresses the extremism of modern neuroscience propaganda and declares (much like Alva Noë has) that:

The brain is not the mind.


As Sally Satel and Scott O. Lilienfeld explained in their compelling and highly readable book, “Brainwashed: The Seductive Appeal of Mindless Neuroscience,” you put somebody in an fMRI machine and see that the amygdala or the insula lights up during certain activities. But the amygdala lights up during fear, happiness, novelty, anger or sexual arousal (at least in women). The insula plays a role in processing trust, insight, empathy, aversion and disbelief. So what are you really looking at?


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