Recently in the news, I have seen multiple accounts of cannibalism, acts so atrocious, so unspeakable, that people have started to refer to them as "Zombie attacks". It's as if we as human beings can not accept that such acts were committed by other human beings, and must in turn dehumanize the perpetrators of such heinous crimes.
The sad truth, is that these actions, were the work of humans. Granted, they may have been hopped up on some drug or other, but they were humans nonetheless.
It is my firm belief, that referring to such actions as zombie attacks, is detrimental to humanity in general, and more specifically, glosses over the tragedy that these actions represent. Why then, did I call this post "The Zombie Apocalypse?" Simply put, it was a convenient way to potentially get readers to look further into this article.
Zombies have been an obsession of mine from as far back as I can remember. I will tell people endlessly that one of my earliest memories was actually watching Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video back when the M in MTV actually stood for something. But why is that worth mentioning? Why should you care about my obsession with the living dead? It does directly relate to my feelings on this topic. I think zombies are a fun fictional tool. They can provide great social commentary, as evidenced in George Romero's original Dead trilogy. Likewise, they can make for interesting comedic foils, in such films as Shaun of the Dead, or even Dead Alive. The simple fact remains that zombies, like werewolves and vampires, are fictional. They're not real.
If a man is found gnawing on the another man's face, this is not a zombie attack, it is a human being, hopped up on drugs, doing something that we just can't fathom. If someone eats his roommate's brain, and admits to it, he isn't a zombie, he's a sick mother-fucker who needs to be locked up, but still a human being.
This attributing human evil to monstrosity is an old idea, a heinous crime gets committed, and automatically people start crying out "He (or she) was a monster." It is a psychological buffer that they are attempting to create. Differentiate themselves from the perpetrator, and they can sleep better at night, feeling that they could never do something like that. The sad truth is, we're all capable of horrific acts. Each of these people in the news could have just as easily been us. Is it likely that we will? No... only a tiny fraction of a percent of the population will ever commit these crimes, but they are people.
Movies like "The Silence of the Lambs" work so well, and are so truly frightening because they force us to look into the eyes of the killer, and see that he is just a man. He's not a zombie, a werewolf, a ghoul, or anything else. He's just a man. Once we realize this, and acknowledge that he is just a man, the terror is more palpable then in any of the various monster movies. Once we accept that people can be vicious sociopath killers, we can't help but see a faint glimmer of that madness in people around us.
So the basic point of everything I'm saying is that killers, even if their actions are horrific, violent, or unspeakable, are still just people. They aren't zombies, so please, can we all stop referring to them as such?
If we keep calling THEM zombies, we'll be horribly overwhelmed if science ever does create actual zombies.