The Weekend Australian - Review - - Lifelines - Deirdre Macken

WE are knee deep in the pop cul­ture of zom­bies and frankly I’m get­ting nos­tal­gic for vam­pire kisses, wizard tour­na­ments and wolf rid­ing in the forests of New Zealand. The suc­cess of TV’s The Walk­ing Dead is now old news; the mobs of post-apoc­a­lyp­tic trailer trash have been storm­ing the rat­ings for the past year. Warm Bod­ies, the movie, is on the big screens, bring­ing a ro­man­tic blush to those pasty-faced sur­vivors of poor ur­ban plan­ning. And in a few months, we’ll watch Brad Pitt take on zom­bies in World War Z.

Who’d have guessed the great un­laun­dered would be­come big­ger than the iron-de­pleted lads of twi­light. I mean, it’s sort of sexy to be bit­ten by a vam­pire but it’s pos­i­tively smelly to be bit­ten by a zom­bie. You might go crazy for a vam­pire but you’ll lose a bit of your brain to a zom­bie.

Some peo­ple could have guessed we’d move on from the long dead to the un­dead: cul­tural the­o­rists have been all over th­ese trends like a, well, like mobs in dirty linen that have just spot­ted Anna Paquin on the hori­zon.

The pop­u­lar­ity of zom­bies, one his­to­rian said, is symp­to­matic of our ‘‘ can­celled self­hood’’. Ac­cord­ing to an­other aca­demic it’s a ‘‘ con­ve­nient metaphor for the way that [we] are feel­ing pow­er­less within the sys­tem’’.

And, if you want a So­cratic per­spec­tive, it’s about our ad­mi­ra­tion for the sim­ple life — in par­tic­u­lar, the sim­ple drive to eat brains. ‘‘ Zom­bies do not care what new artist will make the top 40. They just want to eat your brain. Zom­bies do not con­tem­plate the rel- evance of en­vi­ron­men­tal ethics — they want to eat your brain.’’ Etcetera.

So, the cul­tural gist of zom­bies is that they are pro­jec­tions of our post-global fi­nan­cial cri­sis feel­ings of help­less­ness; they re­flect our sense that we are husks of our for­mer selves and can only get mo­ti­vated by the op­por­tu­nity to eat the brains of those who sur­vived. In short, we all want a bit of a Wall Street banker.

On a per­sonal level, zom­bies res­onate be­cause we are so dead tired; we feel out of sync with the world and can’t be stuffed do­ing an­other load of wash­ing so we’re go­ing out in th­ese old rags. But that may just be me.

This zom­bie eco­nomic the­ory makes sense, but only if you ac­cept that the vam­pire mo­ment was driven by pre-GFC moods. Back in those days, we were im­pressed with fast­mov­ing, blood­less men who promised us eter­nal life in ex­change for a quick sub­prime mort­gage. They sucked us dry. But we sorta liked it. We even went back for more. Un­til the zom­bie era ar­rived, that is.

The prob­lem for Hol­ly­wood is that we’re go­ing to get sick of this post-Omo world of list­less men with hun­gover eyes. So, what comes next? You can imag­ine the con­ver­sa­tions go­ing on in movie stu­dios. What about

just sexy, vi­o­lent fam­i­lies from a folk­loric past? Nah, Game of Thrones just did it. What about blue peo­ple liv­ing on an­other planet? Avatar.

Or, how about gi­ant wolves, gob­lins and fell beasts? Lord of The Rings and Game of Thrones.

Wiz­ards? You’re kid­ding, right. Witches? Ac­tu­ally, a few cul­tural the­o­rists have sug­gested we are on the verge of a witches re­birth, largely be­cause a cou­ple of Hansel and Gre­tel movies have been com­mis­sioned. How­ever, the mo­ment may have passed quickly af­ter Hansel & Gre­tel: Witch Hunters.

Still, if we put our minds to it, we can get ahead of the Hol­ly­wood band­wagon. We just have to imag­ine where we are in the eco­nomic cy­cle and how we’re go­ing to feel as it un­folds.

And I’m think­ing Ire­land. I’m think­ing that bas­ket case in theeu­ro­zone is hav­ing a quiet, stoic re­cov­ery and, even if there are no Tigers on the eco­nomic hori­zon, there are still fairies at the bot­tom of the gar­den.

Oh yes, it’s time for a Celtic reimag­in­ing of the world. As dawn breaks on the lit­tle is­land at the misty end of An­glo mythol­ogy, we could find our movie magic with the crea­tures of Celtic myth. And what a cast that mythol­ogy of­fers. There are lep­rechauns, hob­gob­lins, bo­gey­men, changelings, ban­shees, imps, pix­ies and fairies play­ing at the bot­tom of the gar­den. A re-en­chant­ment of our world awaits.

There are a few prob­lems. I’m not sure Brad Pitt will like wear­ing big ears and child-sized tights but I’m sure he won’t have any trou­ble at­tract­ing the fairies and will feel OK about rais­ing changelings.

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