Zombieland: Mindless in America

Journalist David Sirota begins his column entitled “The zombie zeitgeist” with the question: What’s with all the zombies lately? He was referring to a proliferation of books, films and video games with this content. My response is: What do you mean lately? Human beings in P-B have always been zombies. What do zombies do? They eat people, albeit they move so slowly in the films I’ve seen that that it is quite a challenge for a zombie to catch a live person. However, homo sapiens (the zombies in real life, i.e. P-B) are much more efficient at catching each other. First, everyone is a zombie and qualifies as a victim (food), and secondly, most human zombies are not that swift, either physically or mentally, and finally human zombies are easy to trap. With the bait of security, sensation and power, human zombies can get all the sustenance they could want with, of course, some being better hunters than others. Climbing up the zombie food chain is a brutal process to watch but most of us are too busy chasing each other to realize the sadness of the spectacle.

Lately, some super-zombies on Wall Street have proven to be particularly adept hunters and have had a lot of their fellow Americans for lunch.  It was only a year ago that “zombie” first entered the colloquial lexicon during the collapse of the financial institutions that were cannibalizing the economy. From a balance-sheet perspective, many of these firms were dead. But they were quickly reanimated as zombie banks with trillions of taxpayer dollars…On Wall Street, we have zombie executives—those who destroyed the economy but nonetheless kept their same jobs and now continue paying themselves huge bonuses.

Zombie behaviors are contagious. Once bitten by an infected fellow American (e.g., parents, peers, pastors or the super-infectious collective unconscious) it’s hard to resist succumbing to the urge to mindlessly accumulate all the material stuff, power, and pleasure as fast as possible. The virus continues to spread as more and more zombies become more and more piggish. Frightfully, enough…zombies have also infiltrated America’s political culture… At the White House, President Obama hired zombie advisers whose zombie economic ideologies [e.g. Henry Paulson] and records manufacturing recession conditions should have killed their careers, but who now sit in high government office letting out moans in support of zombie banks…. Decrepit zombie politicians…stalk Congress with the very zombie lobbyists [six lurching lobbyists for each catatonic Congressman] that the election was said to disempower.

 The quotes in italics are from David Sirota’s column. What about his employers, the so-called Fourth Estate (media), which is supposed to protect the rest of us zombies from being victimized? …all the while media zombies push zombie myths about death panels and birth certificates, effectively feasting on the last functioning lobes of the American brain.

Is there any hope for the poor, staggering, inept American zombie? If zombies specifically represent the apocalyptic downsides of immortalized mindlessness, then today’s zombie zeitgeist is not merely a result of scary quandaries created by stupidity. It is a reaction [you better believe it]to both those problems and the sense that they can never be thwarted.

Of course, humanity has always lived in the zombie “state” and has no hope of awakening from its self-destructive self-victimizing behavior without a different identity. Here we are, a year after a financial implosion that should have driven a stake in the heart of free-market fundamentalism. (Here Sirota mixes his metaphoric monsters since stakes are the remedy for vampires not zombies.) Here we are, a year after an election that was supposed to pour holy water on Wall Street vampires, exorcise the economy’s demons and challenge the ancient mummies of neoconservative foreign policy. Yet here we are, with virtually nothing changed, watching the same zombie crisis indomitably stumble forward.

How has humanity coped with the harsh reality that Sirota has so brilliantly described? We turn to our sensation energy center and deploy our escapist behaviors and seek distractions from the reality of our pain and fear. We flee to entertainment venues that let us enjoy the campy thrill of confronting the undead—even though we’ve lost the ability to do that in real life.  Alas, the human community has never yet had that ability to do that in real life because we have always been contained in P-B.

Nevertheless, Sirota has had some amazing insights into the human condition. We all know something is wrong and many of us can think of clever ways to describe what that is and even believe we can identify who or what is responsible. But the truth is, we don’t know what is wrong and therefore, not surprisingly, we haven’t a clue what to do about it. It’s no fun being a zombie.

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Bibliography, notes and references are in the published books by Roy Charles Henry.

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