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will better economy end zombie trends? we can hope?

December 10, 2013

CityTimes: “Rest in Peace: A Tribute and Retrospective on the (Dying) Zombie Trend by Jennifer Manalili claims:

Similar to their sibling, the vampire (trend), zombies re-emerged to convey societal feelings … Zombies re-emerge at times when society questions itself. This recent re-incarnation has come at a time when the country is turning in on itself: fighting seemingly endless wars, an uncertain economy, constant debates over healthcare, political untrustworthiness … the list is long. … But like the monster it embodies, zombies can’t live forever (a good bullet to the head stops ‘em, but good) and neither will this trend. In fact, it’s on the way out…. May they rest in peace until they are re-imagined again and here’s to whatever represents what society is scared of next.

Part of the zombie theme is to keep saying it’s over and then it comes back again. But the entertainment industry goes through fads and zombies have had a lot of play, vampires and witches and gosh won’t they think of something new… Manalili suggests technology but ignores that part of the zombie-fear is a mirror of the technological changes.

Recall Zombie is a popular word in computer hacking culture – see recently: “Flying hacker contraption hunts other drones, turns them into zombies” by Dan Goodin which sounds like technology straight out of “The Terminator”, which is after all, a monster movie, in which the Terminator is remarkably similar to a zombie because of single-minded unreasonable behavior. A cyborg is a very complicated zombie, but it’s still a zombie – an automaton.

Time-travel is a messy business (See Heinlein’s Zombies). It is the work of every real scholar. We are doomed to repeat the past, first as horror then as comedy then as horrific comedy then as comedic horrors and so on ad infinitum. The economics are simple; “Better economy brings ‘zombie’ subdivision back” by Melissa St. Aude:

An improving economy could mean new life for what’s been dubbed one of Casa Grande’s “zombie” subdivisions. Thursday, the Casa Grande Planning and Zoning Commission approved preliminary plat plans for Arroyo Grande, a subdivision that was approved in 2006 but has sat idle and undeveloped for seven-plus years. “This is an effort to breathe new life into a zombie subdivision,” Keith Newman, city planner, told the commission.

The article describes hundreds of homes built before 2006 but construction on the remainder of the community stalled by the economic conditions. Seven year cycles of bust and boom seem like something to consider but we must have a stronger safety net to prevent these crises?

Forbes: “Is the American Merchant Marine a Zombie?” by Robert Bowman:

the fleet is effectively dead already, according to one industry expert. … The budget sequester is threatening what’s left of the fleet.

Bowman’s article explains some complicated costs of U.S.-made ships, quotes a report by Drewry Maritime Research about expenses:

“underlines the possibility that U.S.-flag protectionism is an increasingly expensive luxury,”

What is the value of a flag? A symbol – but what does it signify? This is an important question for zombies, for whom signifiers are empty chains of irony and the signified merely entertainment. “Terminator 2” is in many ways the more interesting movie because the Arnold-Terminator appears to become more human when it acts as a savior and ultimately kills himself. The absurdity of this situation is that suicide becomes the most human of all behaviors. The Arnold-Terminator is still just following it’s programming. If it doesn’t kill itself, SkyNet will eventually become powerful enough to take control of his systems (by use of a “flying hacker contraption”?). The Arnold-Terminator becomes most human in the symbolic gesture of critical approval on his own chosen death scene- the thumbs up as he melts into oblivion (as if to say to Roger Ebert, how could you not love this!). And there is nothing stopping another sequel or pre-quel with Arnold, because he is a mass production zombie machine. As Ebert wrote in his 1991 review:

It’s fun for a kid, having his own pet Terminator … intriguing screenplay idea is to develop the Terminator’s lack of emotions; like Mr. Spock in “Star Trek,” he does not understand why humans cry. Schwarzenegger’s genius as a movie star is to find roles that build on, rather than undermine, his physical and vocal characteristics. Here he becomes the straight man in a human drama – and in a human comedy, too, as the kid tells him to lighten up and stop talking like a computer.

But, it can’t go on forever. Future sequels in the Terminator series have been banal at best. Compare, Panels on Pages: “The Problem with “The Walking Dead”” by Lee Rodriguez, about:

An excellent blog post written by the lovely and talented Jamilla Rowser recently made the rounds wherein she wrote about her experience “breaking up” with The Walking Dead comic book. It struck a chord with me because I’m in something of a loveless relationship with the TV show myself. The comic and I have occasional flings via trade, but I’ve committed myself to the show. Relationship metaphors aside, her blog echoed conversations I’ve been having lately about the longevity of The Walking Dead.

Thanks to Rodriguez, I too recommend reading Jamilla Rowser’s “Breaking Up With “The Walking Dead”“:

I feel like I’m breaking up with a longtime boyfriend. I’ve been dating “The Walking Dead” for a few years now. …I adored his grayscale gore and the excitement I felt whenever we were together. But then, things started to change… The dates became repetitive and predictable. His friends weren’t interesting anymore or they were dead.

Consider this commentary in relation to “Zombie Boyfriends” (hipsters or slackers or “Warm Bodies” /”Boyfriend’s Back”?):

It’s hard to break up with “The Walking Dead” because I’ve invested to many years into this relationship. But I think it’s time to let go. … Maybe we’ll grab coffee every few months and I’ll see how he’s doing. I don’t know.

See also Rowser’s stunning artwork of comic, sci-fi and video game images juxtaposed with corresponding quotes from rap songs: “Straight Outta Gotham

See other ZombieLaw Batman and Star Trek – but we ain’t outta gotham yet yet. “Idaho’s zombie banks” by David Staats:

I first encountered the term “zombie banks” during the financial crisis. It refers to banks whose conditions are so poor that they need government support to survive.

Banking is one of the most heavily regulated businesses in America. The government will do whatever it takes to stop bank runs, to preserve confidence in lending and lenders. Joseph Schumpeter’s “creative destruction” is unwelcome. That’s why Syringa and Idaho Banking Co. are still in business. That’s why they’re zombies.

And “Zombie Government Armed with Accounting Tricks Bailed out Zombie Banking Industry” by Doug French claims:

Zombies make negligent landlords and dangerous neighbors.

The American Thinker: “Why Zombies” by Sally Zelikovsky:

Zombies act in concert. If one smells human flesh and starts moaning and dragging his mangled, decrepit body toward the source, they all do, sometimes in herds thousands strong. They simply respond. The ultimate “groupthink.” While fantasy’s zombies lack cognitive function, today’s real-world humans do not. Yet how often do members in our society behave in a “groupthink” mode — responding viscerally, neglecting to exercise independent thought, failing to question their behavior, yearnings, and motives?

concluding:

We have the advantage over our zombie-like opponents of reason and the ability to analyze and think clearly about our predicament. If we target those lifeless menaces to our prosperity, civility, and liberty, we should be able to politically obliterate the walking dead among us and restore the shining city on the hill.

And she seems to mean this literally as conservatives versus progressives but acknowledging internal dissenters in the conservative crowd:

Conservatives correctly conclude that today’s progressive zombie army is destroying morality, responsibility, civility, and liberty. We are struggling to survive in a morally bankrupt, fiscally apocalyptic world where instinct reigns over reason. Not only must we battle the progressive zombies who threaten our humanity, civility, and society, but because of them, we are often compelled to fight amongst ourselves. We see this currently playing out within the GOP as moderates, establishment types, social conservatives, and Tea Partiers clash over the direction the party should take.

But who are the zombies? We all are? Anyone who disagrees because of course only we have the power to “analyze and think clearly” – not them? If the machine will not willfully kill itself, then he is not human?

And to conclude this post, TruthOut: “Henry A. Giroux | Hope in the Age of Looming Authoritarianism“. [Recall Giroux recently appeared on Moyer & Co.] In this article on TruthOut, Giroux writes:

In the current historical moment, the line between fate and destiny is difficult to draw. Dominant power works relentlessly through its major cultural apparatuses to hide, mischaracterize or lampoon resistance, dissent and critically engaged social movements. … Civic engagement appears increasingly weakened, if not impotent, as a malignant form of casino capitalism exercises ruthless power over the commanding institutions of society and everyday existence, breathing new life into old clichés. … The language of stupidity replaces reason as scientific evidence is disparaged or suppressed, thoughtful exchange gives way to emotional tirades, violence becomes the primary means for solving problems, and anger is substituted for informed arguments. … This mad violence creates an intensifying cycle rendering citizens’ political activism dangerous, if not criminal. … Authoritarianism has a long shadow and refuses simply to disappear into the pages of a fixed and often forgotten history. …

And

Historical consciousness matters because it illuminates, if not holds up to critical scrutiny, those forms of tyranny and modes of authoritarianism that now parade as common sense, popular wisdom or just plain certainty. In this case, the American public will not repeat history as farce (as Marx once suggested) but as a momentous act of systemic violence, suffering and domestic warfare. If the act of critical translation is crucial to a democratic politics, it faces a crisis of untold proportions in the United States. In part, this is because we are witnessing the deadening reduction of the citizen to a consumer of services and goods that empties politics of substance by stripping citizens of their political skills, offering up only individual solutions to social problems and dissolving all obligations and sense of responsibility for the other in an ethos of unchecked individualism and a narrowly privatized linguistic universe. The logic of the commodity penetrates all aspects of life while the most important questions driving society no longer seem concerned about matters of equity, social justice and the fate of the common good.

Why? Because

Political exhaustion and impoverished intellectual visions are fed by the widely popular assumption that there are no alternatives to the present state of affairs. Within the increasing corporatization of everyday life, market values trump ethical considerations enabling the economically privileged and financial elite to retreat into the safe, privatized enclaves of family, religion and consumption. … Moreover, in the face of the 2008 economic crisis caused by gangster financial service institutions such as J.P. Morgan, Bank of America, Bear Stearns, Goldman Sachs, Barclay and Merrill Lynch, among others, the middle class is dissolving into the jaws of a death-machine that has robbed them of their homes, health care, jobs and dignity. The ruling elites have taken flight from any sense of social and ethical responsibility and their willing and active repression of conscience has opened the door to new forms of authoritarianism in which the arrogance of corporate power finds its underside in a hatred of all others that threaten its power.

But hope –

Hope says “no” to the totalizing and common-sense discourse of the neoliberal present; it contains an activating presence that opens current political structures to critical scrutiny, affirms dissent and pluralizes the possibilities of different futures. In this sense, hope is a subversive force. … hope is more than a politics – it is also a practice that provides the foundation for enabling human beings to learn about their potential as moral and civic agents. … Judith Butler is right in insisting that “For me there is more hope in the world when we can question what is taken for granted, especially about what it is to be human.”

Quoting Adorno, and concluding with Derrida, isn’t enough:

In addition, young and older people need jobs

And:

What the American public needs to address is that the United States is no longer on the brink of authoritarianism – rather, it has moved; it is at the stage where every effort is made on the side of corporate, political imagination and financial elites to make sure that the current reign of tyranny is neither challenged nor held accountable.

The zombie trend will not end, until we are all become zombie and there is no longer any point in considering the difference. The zombie trend is the human trend. But humanity is dying… which is primary feature by which we recognize it, and so all is not lost, humanity will be back….

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