"Every single person that you, or I has ever known, is dead!" - Will Smith's character, Dr. Robert Neville from I am Legend
Zombies are cool? Zombies are sexy? Zombie movies, like Night of the Living Dead, I am Legend, and 28 Days Later have always been popular, but the rise of The Walking Dead television series seems to have brought zombie culture much closer to home than ever before. Instead of a population of nerds like me watching late night zombie flicks on the Sci-Fi channel, now large swaths of the population are soaking it up.
There's even a new, 2013 zombie-girls-in-bikinis video calendar stealing headlines, released by a New Zealand-based advertising agency in an effort to promote The Walking Dead in foreign markets! The calendar is compelling, for sure, but truth be told the zombies in the calendar hardly resemble the zombies in The Walking Dead. The last thing I want to see is a Walker in a bikini, sprawled on a pristine beach.
Surely our leaders in government and medicine can talk some sense into our zombie-obsessed society? Maybe present some statistics about the reality of a zombie apocalypse? If only that were the case! Just last year, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued zombie propaganda, with its Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse campaign, complete with Zombie Task Force t-shirts available for those who joined the task force.
Even our military has jumped on the zombie bandwagon! According to the Christian Science Monitor the U.S. Marines and Navy special-operations forces took part in a zombie apocalypse preparedness drill on Halloween off the coast of San Diego. The organizer of the drill, Brad Barker, CEO of the Halo Corp., security company said in an interview with the Associated Press that, "This is a very real exercise. This is not some type of big costume party."
Really? How tongue-in-cheek was that sound bite? Is the government, CDC and military simply employing consumer public relations tactics (which would represent serious evolution from standard operation procedure)? Or is there a real possibility of a zombie apocalypse? Could a virus really turn healthy people into stumbling, moaning, brain dead zombies in search of blood?
Two recent cases from real life have only added fuel to the fire: the infamous cannibalization of a live subject in Miami by Rudy Eugene, who was shot down by police when he wouldn't stop eating a live homeless man's face. He became known in the media as the 'Miami Zombie' mainly because of the attack, but also because the cop's first bullet didn't stop Eugene from chowing down on his victim's face. It actually took four bullets to put him down.
And then there is Baltimore college student Alex Kinyua, who used a knife to kill a man, slice him up and eat pieces of his victim's heart and brain. When pictures emerged of the Morgan State University student's face covered in camouflage face paint, zombie-aficionados jumped into the fray, calling it another zombie attack and a sure sign of the coming apocalypse. Fortunately, Newsweek and the Daily Beast did us all a big favor and put together a Google map that tracks news instances of similar attacks and zombie behavior.
As our military and medical community prepare for, and provide tactics for surviving the coming zombie apocalypse, we are encouraged to put together survival kits for our families, and make plans for safe travel and safe living zones. Not to mention, the need to know how to shoot a gun, preferably a shotgun! According to Dave Workman, of the Second Amendment Foundation, the zombie fad is now helping push gun sales in the state of Washington.
"There is quite a following on this zombie target shooting -- the idea of shooting targets that look like weird strange zombie people instead of human silhouette targets or junk targets appeal to a lot of people," Workman said in an interview with Seattle's King5 television news.
Tens of millions of viewers around the world are currently sitting on pins and needles in anticipation of what will happen next when The Walking Dead returns this spring. Who will get munched? What will happen to the Governor? Many viewers will sit through the show wondering, "is this foreshadowing? Am I really prepared for this?"