Zombies Are a Popular Culture Icon

TAMPA (2011-10-31) -

The zombie has gone from classic horror creature to a pop culture icon. Zombies have even made their way into books like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith.

AMC's The Walking Dead is a huge TV hit. It is hard to escape the plague of zombie movies, commercials, and at colleges across the nation- human students are protecting themselves with nerf guns and socks against the growing zombie population in a tag game called Humans Versus Zombies.

University of South Florida students like Jared Wilbur look forward to playing the part of the living-dead.

"It definitely makes my day go by faster and makes it entertaining and I'm glad," said Wilbur, "It's really a good way to wind down especially with mid-terms."

Actually for some people, zombies are the subject of midterms. Dr. Sarah Juliet Lauro did her dissertation on zombies at U.C. Davis.

During a recent lecture at USF, she said the zombie craze really took off after the war on terror in Iraq when some young people felt they had no control.

"We were taken to a war in Iraq and there had been major demonstrations leading up to that against the war and we’d gone anyway," said Lauro. "So to me, this was sort of like the anti-revolution; the fall-out from the fact that the Bush Administration had not listened when there were protests."

Professor of humanities at USF Amy Rust says zombies have been used as metaphors for all kinds of modern struggles, starting with George Romero's film The Night of the Living Dead in 1968.

"A lot of people will read that being about Vietnam or about racial[ized] violence in the South," said Rust. "Dawn of the Dead 10 years later, because it’s set in a mall, people will often see that as an allegory for consumerism. And I think today’s zombies because the sheer number of them exploded after 2001, often get linked up with things like globalization... global terrorism... environmental pandemics- the concerns of our age."

University of Baltimore professor Arnold Blumberg teaches the class Media Genres- his students call it 'Zombies 101.'

He says zombies really do keep up with the times. We live faster these days and zombies now move faster.

"We’ve become a very fast pace culture," said Blumberg. "We’ve become a culture that has a very short attention span with a lot of our media. The idea of a creature running at full breaking speed toward you to tear you apart, that might be something that from our perspective today, is more frightening."

Blumberg says zombies will never die. As long as we have fears there will be a zombie to represent them.

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