Zombie trend gains fame

Daniel Garcia

Over the past few years, zombies have seen a massive increase in popularity. From the amount of zombies that have appeared in media recently, such as films to television to video games to books, it would be easy to assume the zombie apocalypse is occurring now.

But why exactly are zombies so popular? What is it that makes the idea of a rising of the dead so appealing to so many? What is it that people find frightening and intriguing about walking corpses?

To answer questions like that, one must look at the nature of a zombie itself. At its core, the modern zombie that most are familiar with is not a very complicated monster. To put it simply, it is a walking dead body that hungers for the flesh of the living.

While not a very interesting idea on paper, the concept is so broad that it opens up the avenue for much creativity. The idea of the zombie that is most well-known originated in 1964, with George Romero’s milestone film “Night of the Living Dead.” This film established the zombie as a slow moving, lumbering corpse that seeks only to feast on the living.

Even before that, there was the 1932 film “White Zombie,” which is generally considered the first zombie film by most film historians. The zombies featured in that film are much closer to the zombies of voodoo beliefs, being a mindless slave reanimated by magic.

In American culture, the Romero zombie has become the virtual standard by which zombies are viewed. However, while zombies did become increasingly common in film, video games and horror, they did not begin to explode into mainstream culture until the 2000s. Zombie series like “World War Z,” “28 Days Later,” and AMC’s “The Walking Dead” shows how much zombies have become integrated into culture. “The Walking Dead” alone draws viewer ratings in the millions, showing how much interest the concept garners.

However, the popularity of zombies raises the question of why people find them so interesting. After all, a zombie, while a gruesome concept, is not all that frightening. Generally, zombies move slowly, have no intelligence, and are only really dangerous in groups. Everyone at one point has likely wondered how something like that could cause a complete collapse of society.

In reality, zombies are not really the heart of what makes a zombie story interesting. Rather, it is seeing how everyday people react to the zombie that is captivating. This is where something like “The Walking Dead” shines and resonates with people. Seeing normal, average people react to a situation like a zombie apocalypse allows oneself to better connect with the situation. It raises the question of what we would do in such a situation.

Perhaps that is why zombies have seen such a boost in popularity. With the 4th season of “The Walking Dead” premiering to a viewer base of over 16 million, the zombie craze does not show any signs of ending soon.