Friday, September 18, 2015

Five More Zombie Clichés

Zombie stories are so popular at this point that clichés have become an inevitability. Not all clichés are bad, of course. Some of them are killer (pun intended). Here are five more of the best and worst zombie clichés according to yours truly.

Worst: But First, Let Me Take a Shower.

The entire world has descended into madness and all the luxuries of civilized society, like Starbucks and Urban Barn (NOOOO), have all but disappeared. Amazingly, even without running water (and Starbucks), Sally Survivor has managed to keep-up her hygiene routine, including shaving her armpits/legs/nipples and brushing and curling her surprisingly grease-free hair
  1. This is what I look like after a two day camping trip. 
    This isn't realistic. I mean, I don’t know about you guys, but after one day without a shower or running water of some kind, my personal hygiene plummets faster than an English student’s employability after graduation. I'm disgusting; humans are disgusting. We leak stinky, moist organic material from every orifice of our body ALL DAY LONG. And we have a boatload of orifices. You only have to look at me after a two day camping trip where there are literal mud holes for toilets to know that the level of hygiene maintained in zombie stories is completely unachievable.
  2. Shaving is already dangerous. You're balancing one leg on a counter, holding a razor so sharp it literally cuts hairs, and grazing it along major arteries. Now picture doing that with a bunch of insatiable naked corpses mobbing your bathroom.
Best: Grammar Nazis Must Die.

It's not a mystery that those lacking in survival skills, especially physical prowess, would likely die first in any sort of apocalyptic situation. Grammar Nazis, perfectly skilled at butchering first-year English papers and youtube comments, are probably not skilled at butchering zombies. Alas, the pen is not mightier than the sword when it comes to zombies.

It's a theory of mine that the certain mass extinction of our society's language gatekeepers explains why most post-zombie signs are completely unreadable and equally vague. 
"Don't Dead Open Inside?"

I understand that the signs need to be easily readable from a distance, but some of these things need captions. Do you have a safe place for survivors? Instead of writing a giant sign with something a little too subtle, like "SAFETY HERE--->", why not explain in the small print what you're actually offering? Why not give specific directions? Want to warn other survivors about a zombie horde? "Dead Inside" is not an effective way to do it, because dead people traditionally don't try to eat you. 

"Dead Inside" sounds like an existential song lyric. It sounds like something a middle-class, white teenager would write after his two-parent unit takes away his iPhone to discourage distractions during mid-term exam week. 

But what would Zombie Narratives do without shitty signs and the survivors who refuse to critically interpret them? 

Worst: Bad Barricades.

Barricades seem like the best way to keep safe from, and holed up against, zombies, but they're just not. Survivors spend all that time and effort boarding up the door (and for some reason, the audience finds those renovation scenes exciting--what do I know, Storage Wars is hit TV). Yet they always conveniently forget about other open things: windows, crawl spaces, the back door, giant holes in the walls.

But let's be honest: barricades can't stop Zombies. Rick Grimes locked his entire group in a maximum security prison and even that failed to stop the walking dead. 

The Zombie infection (TM) makes humans incredibly limber and sneaky. Humans who, in life, couldn't even squeeze into an air-plane seat become as lithe as a cockroach in death. Zombies, with their slowed cognitive abilities, can search out a crack in the floorboards and squeeze through it.

The point I'm making here is that rotting bags of human flesh are more physically impressive than I am and that's bullshit, so I'm going to start doing yoga... 


Best: I Can Help You, Steve.

Spoiler alert: You can't help Steve. 

Steve's a zombie now and I don't know why survivors don't pick-up on that. It's so obvious. Steve has half his face missing. He's walking at an incredibly slow pace with his arms stretched out in front of him. His grunts are suspiciously zombie-like. He's gnawing on a disembodied hand, for God's sake! 

There could be three things going on with Steve: a.) He's on bath salts, b.) He's just finished his Master's thesis defence or c.) He's a freaking zombie. Either way, you run because Steve is not okay. 
"Oh, hey, Steve. Looks like you scratched your face a little, buddy."

Worst: Soylent Green.

It eventually happens to every surviving group. They happen upon a virtual utopia, a safe haven, filled with smiling friendlies. And everything's great. Their new friends keep offering them food, lots of grains and butter. Sometimes they even give them BBQ sauce--by the bottle!

The friendlies are always complimenting the survivors. "We love having you for dinner" "You look good enough to eat." They laugh a little too hard for a little too long. 

Pretty soon the friendlies are shuffling plump survivors through a narrow hallway, and, surprise, yup, they're cannibals. They're eating people. No one saw it coming.