Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Violent Viral Plague Stories-- My Guilty Pleasure!

Disclaimer: This is a totally self-indulgent blog post, but fear not, I want you to indulge as well! I am ELATED! I am giddy, and giggly, and ecstatic. Why? Because my guilty pleasure has been elevated to high art.

Because I do have so many, I must clarify—this guilty pleasure is zombies! Though (thanks to Netflix’s recommendations algorithms) I am expanding to Violent Viral Plague Stories! For those of you unfamiliar, here is the difference:·

  • Zombies are re-animated corpses infected by something. They can be fast. They can be slow. But they are, without argument, the living dead. Think Dawn of the Dead.
  • “Violent Viral Plague Stories” are people out of their minds, hungry for flesh or death or both! The difference is that these people aren’t necessarily dead—though they may be. Think 28 Days Later. Not dead, still freaky.

So, all zombies are violent viral plague victims, but not all violent viral plague victims are zombies. OK?

Regardless of the type of violent viral plague, I LOVE these stories, but have always thought of them as a guilty pleasure. Excluding Danny Boyle films, which are beautifully made and written, the point of these films is usually straight up carnage. And yes, yes, yes, I hear you zombie lovers screaming! Romero began the zombie genre as a comment on consumerism in the U.S. BUT, in terms of the themes of the movies, you gotta admit—carnage.

Until World War Z by Max Brooks. Enter high art.

Yes, I am late to the game. The book has been out for quite a while, but thanks to my wonderful friend Wade, it finally worked its way into my hands. And I am having a hard time putting it down. Its finals week. I have a test. I have a paper. I have two conferences to prep for. My dog wants attention. My stomach is growling. My kitchen sink is full… and I just want to read about zombies.

But here is what is different- this is truly a zombie book about human nature, political interactions, the will to live, to survive. Dehumanization. Atomic warfare. This book is actually step by step examining the social, political, economic, and personal impacts of a zombie apocalypse. And beyond that, it is quite easy to see the links that can be drawn between this situation and MANY situations. The book is about zombies, but the book isn’t just about zombies. It’s about human nature and the society in which we live.

Stay tuned. I am halfway through and I am hoping the book carries me through, but I do encourage everyone to read it! Just not before bed… I have been having the weirdest dreams and yes (at the age of 30) sleeping with the lights on. Even more so than Paranormal State, and that is saying something!

This is actually something I have toyed with in my own writing-- how do you take a genre I love (horror) but create something powerful and profound? Can it be done? Other than World War Z, have you guys seen it done?

Clearly, Max and Menna-- not horror... and its not something I want to write full time, but seeing it done so masterfully has my mind a-working!

But, because of this, I am anxious to know of your giddiness… what are your guilty pleasures, and who is raising them from “brain candy” to art?

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