April 5, 2012 in Urban Fantasy
It seems like every decade we re-popularize the trend in zombies movies and post apocalyptic books. There’s something people seem to love about the end of the world and watching zombies roam deserted cities, searching for brains and wreaking havoc along the way. They annihilate most of the human race, destroy civilizations and cause a romantic apocalypse everywhere they turn. And we love them.
What is it about ugly creatures and the end of the world that has us so fascinated? The popularity of post apocalyptic books dates back hundreds of years, based on scenarios that include aliens, natural disasters, and of course, zombies or demons. Once the film industry began, it was a no-brainer—no pun intended—that movies of the genre would enjoy success. Even in present day, as outrageous as it may seem to rational members of society, urban fantasy books and films based on zombie apocalypses and takeovers are bestsellers and box office winners. Just look at Zombieland, Shaun of the Dead and Dawn of the Dead, as well as one of television’s most popular series, The Walking Dead. There’s no denying it—zombies have a corner on the market. The same goes for dystopian novels; The Hunger Games and Revealing Eden (Save the Pearls Part One) are two perfect examples.
Maybe it’s the fact that people enjoy the idea of a little guiltless killing—if a member of the undead is trying to eat you and your loved ones, what other choice do you have? Or if the idea of an apocalypse world is like a land of urban fantasy books to you, where you can run free through deserted stores, looting and pilfering as you go, then perhaps these books and movies give your imagination an outlet to play in.
Another reason for the popularity of post apocalyptic books and the zombie film could be that people enjoy watching or reading about characters facing horrific circumstances and seeing their transformation. A once mousy introvert or big geek could become a zombie assassin, slaughtering the undead with utter nonchalance and newfound skill. It’s a fascinating character arc, isn’t it?
Maybe, just maybe, these art forms offer their audiences a sense of hope. They grow attached to their main characters and get to watch them fall in love, and in some cases, avoid the romantic apocalypse, living happily ever after in a dystopian society.
I have a theory that fans tend to experience a catharsis of contemplating simpler “life” forms—or undead forms. An apocalypse world filled with zombies is simpler and more succinct. When there are violent undead creatures chasing after you, lusting after your brains and causing destruction everywhere, it makes you realize that your real life is just not as bad as you originally thought. Zombies are ultimately driven by the same things we are—a will to survive. When you strip us of all our material possessions and good looks, obliterate our resources and motivate us by destroying life as we know it, we could very well be walking in a zombie’s shoes. So that’s my idea—zombie films and post apocalyptic books remind us to stay present and make the most of our lives. Therapy in an undead form!