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May. 30th, 2012

12:21 am - The Inverse law of Zombie Disidentification

Monsters are fascinating, but also misleading. We think of Werewolves, Vampires and Zombies as staples of medieval life and belief, but that's a neologism spawned by their status as staple-monsters in MGM movies and Role Playing Games.
What we would identify as Vampires is a 17th century invention, and Zombies date from the early 20th! And they have about as much relation to the source material as Cowboy Gunfighters and the Old West do to American history.
Heck-- and medieval werewolves tended to involve pacts with Satan and/or henshin artifacts! Actually probably Beelzebub at that time.
Each of these monsters has both a 'soft' version-- often more fantastic or traditional-- and a 'hard' more realistic and believable version.

But now, shambling from the pages of pseudo-History and into a strangely PVP LARPing experience....

Ladies and gentlemen, we have zombies.

These are 'hard' zombies. A medical condition or substance which effects "berserker state", hyperarrousal, increased strength, insensitivity to pain and biollante violent tendencies.
But they're not called zombies, because that would be silly. Instead we call them Nodders, Salties and Foamers. After all, none of these are really zombies, because they're not reanimated corpses, right? But half of all fictional zombies are virus-infected living beings, and the original Haitian zombies were drugged into a 'living death' victims just like the Columbian drug story above!
To determine if a living-dead phenomena should be called a Zombie one should always fall back on Fogarty's Law:

"If something is indistinguishable from being a zombie, it is a zombie."
—Fogarty's Law

Using the name Zombie is almost taboo-- even within its own genre. Stories will go to great lengths to establish another name— any other name— to avoid calling them zombies. Because everyone knows Zombies don't "really" exist. This has given us Walkers, The Infected, Darkseekers, Ghouls, Deadites, Dividuals, Jumpers, the Crossed and Inferi— among countless other.

"The more something looks like a zombie, the less likely it is to be identified as a zombie."
—First Corollary to Fogarty's Law

Clearly there exists an "Uncanny Valley of the Living Dead" wherein the more convincingly something is a zombie, the more strongly humans feel the need to deny it is one. Perhaps this is for our own sense of security. We're afraid of Zombies, but Encephalovores? Those we can deal with. We're not encountering the risen dead, they're merely Ambulatory Cadavers—Amcads—and that makes the entire situation 300% better. Don't call them zombies-- if we deny them recognition maybe they'll go away.

But a hidden, sinister consequence lurks behind this behavior. If humans have a zombie-phobic filter-reflex which causes us to lie to ourselves about zombies... we're also lying to everyone else. The media could be reporting about zombies all the time and we'd never know it. Spreekiller rampage? Zombies. Mass Hysteria riots? Zombies. High Fructose Corn Syrup? Zombies. Rapid-onset Alzheimers? Zombies. Crowd mobs Sarah Palin rally? Zombies.

I mean, it's not like Zombies are impossible. It's only a matter of time until someone generically engineers a virus to trigger 'roid rage in a population, reproduce a set number of times and then "shut off." Drop it on a city and boom, instant zombie apocalypse that wipes out the city, then stops. Much more demoralizing than a nuclear bomb. It will probably happen within my lifetime. And we will probably call them Bearcoats.

So remember, next time you read stories about how Gator Blood May Be a New Source of Antibiotics and A New, Fast-Evolving Rabies Virus has been Found -- And is Spreading... those stores are probably actually about zombies.

For what it's worth? The modern, popular conception of Vampires, Zombies and Werewolves are all probably rooted in the same source; rabies. In advanced stages the disease makes victims rabid, hostile, photophobic and if they bite you, you become one of them.

Current Mood: cheerfulcheerful

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