Christian radio host Harold Camping predicts that the rapture is going to happen on May 21, 2011, and that the world itself will end on October 21, 2011. "I know it's absolutely true," said Camping, "because the Bible is always absolutely true." The tautology of this statement not withstanding, progressives know better: they're all going to go down in one big zombie apocalypse. Or, at least, that's what the popular entertainment scene is talking about these days.
The Center for Disease Control recently posted, on their Public Health Matters blog, a humorous guide on how to survive a zombie Armageddon event . They provided a list of what your typical emergency kit at home should contain. Water, food, medication, sanitation supplies, clothing, and tools (like utility knives and duct tape) are all suggested. Also mentioned was an emergency plan and an evacuation route. The piece was meant to be entertaining and informative on how to survive a real disaster.
What with the 2012 hype and Camping's prediction (aimed solely at capitalizing on the marketability of end of the world fixations to make money), it seems that a fusion of the zombie genre with the 'end of days' story is a combination destined to attract plenty of fans.
These fans will be happy to know that Chicago is hosting its 4th annual Zombie March on June 11. People will dress up like the living dead and parade the streets, their trek beginning in Millennium Park.
But does zombie fiction contain progressive elements? In order to look at zombie fiction from a sociopolitical perspective, people must examine the situation of human survivors in a zombie end-of-world event. Almost always critical to survival are the ideals of common cause and collective action as opposed to hiding out in a hole somewhere on your own.
In a 2009 article written for The American Prospect , Paul Waldman says of zombie apocalypse survivors, "A small group of people from varying backgrounds are thrust together and find that they can transcend their differences of age, race, and gender. They understand that if they're going to get out of this, they've got to act as though they're all in it together. Surviving the tide of zombies requires community and mutual responsibility."
An important lesson from this would be to take steps to ensure that, if offshore oil drilling or lack of health benefits cause a real apocalypse, we can stand united and band together to do something about it.
As for the zombies - there doesn't seem to be a single piece of zombie literature that encourages right wing ideologies. In April, a Florida activist group calling itself "Organize Now" dressed up like zombies and protested outside a town hall meeting held by Rep. Dan Webster (R-FL). Those zombies had a hunger for positive social change. They protested Webster's efforts to cut crucial services, including his move to effectively end Medicare.
For Harold Camping's part, he previously claimed the world would end in September 1994, in his book, 1994? Since no one is going to get taken up into the sky on May 21, and everyone is going to stay right where they are, what's the real challenge? Continuing to integrate popular culture with positive political viewpoints so the real tragedies the CDC wants to help prevent need not come to pass.
At the end of most zombie-centric films, the victims eventually begin to fight back. And at a time when the right wing is infecting society with dangerous ideas, it's time for real live people to fight back!
Photo: Pittsburgh "Zombie Walk" in 2006. Wikipedia by MissDee CS