Now that the veil between the worlds of the living and dead are thin this Hallows Eve, I ponder the surging popularity of zombies, ghosts and werewolves – the walking dead, the persistent dead and the wished-they-were-dead.
As you might guess, I’m quite doubtful of all three categories but what fun they are!
Zombies used to be found slouching around in horror movies, the Thriller video and old Scooby Doo episodes. Now, they are prevalent in video games, comedy horror movies, and modern twists on expired copyright classic fiction. If you wish to get your scientific research noticed, model the zombie apocalypse. Jesus is also now referred to as a zombie in some circles as a joke. (Get it? The dead resurrected. Makes sense.) This year featured record breaking Zombie walks all over the world. These events are sometimes and quite appropriately staged to raise awareness and donations for hunger charities. Eww. Experience suggests that these socially conscious zombies prefer beer to human flesh, thank goodness.
We also had the opportunity to broadcast the Thriller video over and over in tribute to its fallen creator. A new generation was introduced to dancers whose parts periodically fall off. It’s definitely the year of the walking undead.
Zombies still retain the totally fictional designation. That is, we don’t take claims of sighting actual zombies seriously. This is becoming less true of the next monstrous critter, the werewolf. Werewolves are HOT. Watch for them to overtake vampires as the next big thing. I’m SOOOooo sick of vampires, aren’t you? Bor-ing.
I can’t take werewolves seriously because their origin is very magical. For a great discussion on how werewolves were made less credible, listen to Monster Talk episode #6 where Brian Regal discusses how Darwin’s Origin of Species made it quite silly to believe that a being of one species could suddenly change into another sans the involvement of natural selection.
But, never underestimate the power of human imagination, especially on a dark and lonely road. The legends of the Beast of Bray Road (now called the “American Werewolf) and the Michigan dogman are spreading via books, the internet and YouTube. People claim to see a Bigfoot-sized creature that differs by having a snout instead of flat face and dog-like legs. Most drawings depict an aggressive animal, just like the fictionalization of werewolves in film. See recent sighting descriptions here. With new films planned, watch for werewolf mania to ensue.
Finally, we have the plethora of ghost-themed attractions and media. There are a gazillion ghost tours, “World’s Most Haunted Places”, local tales wrapped up into paperbacks at gift shops in every tourist city. You can’t walk a block in Gettysburg, PA without encountering an advertisement or solicitation for a ghost tour. Off the top of my head, I count six current TV offerings dedicated just to ghost hunters and spook seekers – Ghost Hunters, Paranormal State, Ghost Adventures, Ghost Lab, The Othersiders and Extreme Paranormal. Check out this review and rundown of unreality TV. Discovery.com calls the grand-daddy show, Ghost Hunters, “deeply stupid” and “preposterous”. I can’t really watch these shows because the are pretty dull. The misuse of science irks me. They seem to spark spontaneous yelling at the TV (which is ridiculous and a waste of energy). So, why is there a new, more absurd show every month featuring more goobers uttering the ghost hunter mantra “Did you hear THAT!”. Yea, it was the sound of [sham] inquiry and [wannabe] science. UR doin it wrong.
What is most astounding is that the “ghosts” being “hunted” in these shows are taken for granted. They are assumed to be real. The skepticism is too shallow to be of any value.
Why are these three supernatural entities so popular these days? Ok, zombies = fun, werewolves = cool and exciting, ghosts = adventure and playing pretend. But, come on. Let’s keep the fiction in the fiction section. We’re getting carried away by the ghosties. That is NOT some Lycan in the cornfield and give that zombi a beer, he looks parched.
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