why i love “shaun of the dead” August 28, 2006Posted by Brad Richert in politics.
I loathe zombie flicks. Sorry Romero fans. I just can not sit through the monotony of some protagonist(s) using a vast assortment of weapons to maim and decapitate as many hominid (and/or canine) undead. Some call Shaun of the Dead a “coming-of-age” story. The problem I have with that is because I associate “coming-of-age” stories with child, teenagers, or even young adults, such as myself. Sure, the 29-year-old protagonist of the story in this case does have a job that most teenagers hold while in school (which Shaun is brutally reminded of by the acne-prone staff). Whatever Director Edgar Wright had in mind for his movie, what I got out of it was more of a social commentary than a “coming-of-age” story.
Unlike most zombie movies, there is not much difference between the living and the undead in Shaun. The beginning of the movie makes this quite clear using the life of everyday people who do not look or act so different than the zombies they will become. Shaun himself is the epitome of an apathetic loser who is well on his way to zombie-hood as he ignores all the warning signs surrounding him. Shaun is completely blinded by his relational, familial, and occupational situation th
at he does not see or hear military trucks, newscasts, and radio broadcasts that are incessantly blaring forewarnings of immediate death (or undeath?). Even when Shaun and his buddy Ed run into a couple of zombies they mistake them for some drunken idiots (when, in actuality, they are the drunken idiots). The morning after Shaun’s drunken escapade he walks past several of the undead, a maze of destroyed property, bloody handprints on a glass door, a dead body before going home to turn on the television.
The question I have after the first thirty minutes is whether I am just as stupid and oblivious as Shaun is. Sure, zombies are kind of fun and make for a good laugh. Shaun and Ed only realize what is going on when a zombie attacks them in their living room. I find this film to be akin to alien movies such as Independence Day that has me asking “What would I do?” It is not like I expect a zombie or alien attack, but these films have serious questions when it comes to our awareness of the world around us. Shaun pokes fun at our nihilistic aesthetic lives in which we walk around like zombies and then literally become them. The difference between Shaun and alien movies is the immediacy of what we need to ask ourselves about awareness. In alien movies we do not really have to worry until shit happens, whereas with Shaun, there is a conditioning aspect of our de-evolution to the undead.
I am a firm believer that the world is not progressing or degressing. There was no “golden-age” of Atlantis, Greece, Rome, early Christianity, pagan Europe, or anything that our grandparents can compare to in the 20th century. Yes, the world does change, but the fables of lost utopias or future ones are simply erroneous. This does not mean that there are not “better” times than others. I would probably much rather live in the 1920’s or the 1950’s than in the 1930’s or 40’s. Society gets better and gets worse for the majority of the population through different circumstances. That said, I read once that Germany had more doctorates per capita than any other country in the world during the 1930’s. They were not a nation of idiots. They were not a nation of evil people. They were a frightened nation. They were frightened of the relatively new democratic institution. They were frightened by their economic situation. They were frightened by the encroachment of their enemies. The National Socialist Workers Party of Germany played on these fears and manipulated the otherwise decent human beings into cold-blooded killing murderers.
Would it have happened to me? Would it have happened to you?
Motivated by fear, fueled by racist sentiment or any scapegoat, are we capable of such atrocities? Are we the zombies? Are we the Nazis?
Shaun forces us to take a look around. Are there zombies around us? Are we turning into zombies? Are we zombies?