n their highly conceptual essay “A Zombie Manifesto: The Nonhuman Condition in the Era of Advanced Capitalism,” Sarah Juliet Lauro and Karen Embry make the claim that we won’t recognize ourselves as zombies even if we find ourselves “undead.” They write, “When we become zombi(es), when we lose our subjectivity and the ability to rationalize, there will be no difference between the two. Therefore, when we truly become posthuman, we won’t even know it” (108). In plain language, the authors suggest that, because zombies (by definition) lose their very sense of identity —the very thing that makes them most human—they can’t know themselves as zombies without the ability to rationalize like humans. Their overarching point is that the very thing that differentiates the living from the “undead”—being able to think about what it means to live—is also the very thing we least consider as humans. In other words, due to our fast-paced and deeply habitual lives, we are already “undead”: not quite “alive” but not quite “dead.”
The rapper Drake famously claimed that “everybody dies but not everybody lives.” This is precisely the axiom that “survival narratives” like The Walking Dead, Zombieland, and Shaun of the Dead ask us to consider: what does it mean to live? This question is echoed in the catchphrase from The Walking Dead: “In a world ruled by the dead, we are forced to finally start living.” Rushton and Moreman take this notion a step further, though, when they claim, “The whole of the series (The Walking Dead)…has taught us that before the zombie apocalypse, we didn’t even know we had to make moral choices. To ‘start living’ is to be forced to think” (5). The undead of the habitual is perhaps most obviously represented by Shaun, the titular protagonist of Shaun of the Dead, who unthinkingly claims he is “surviving” when asked how he’s doing; in his case, he means “survival” literally: he is doing only that which is necessary to live for the next day. In fact, Shaun, Ed, and their friends are so deeply “undead” that it takes them a number of days to recognize that the zombie apocalypse has already occurred!
As a result, post-apocalyptic survival narratives seem to suggest an alternative way to understand catastrophe. Sure, the zombie apocalypse tears the habitual fabric of our lives apart, but by shaking up the habitual, maybe we can make the world we always fantasized about. In other words, as Moreman and Rushton claim, “in order for there to be any future for the world” perhaps the old “world must end” (4). Which is all to say that, while Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead is certainly about a zombie apocalypse, its really about the way people (and their relationships) change as they adapt to survive. It’s fundamentally an optimistic survival narrative.
For your third essay, I’d like you to use survival narratives like The Walking Dead, Shaun of the
Dead and Zombieland to reexamine the aftermath of catastrophe. If these narratives are truly optimistic, if they are more about how we survive than what we survive, what does it mean to truly live YOLO (“you only live once”)?! According to these narratives, what is most important to survival? What does it mean to really “survive” at all?
Note: Please highlight or underline your thesis when you turn in your final draft! Plagiarize will be not allow and get an F
We watch the movie “Shaun of the Dead” in the class, I think should more focus on it.
Please write 4 whole pages and 1 page work cited.