Zombies. One of my favorite monsters. This is the time of year to use zombie targets. Break out the George Romero classics on DVD, too.
Of course few ranges have enough pop-up targets to accommodate such a course of fire.
As shooting targets, I like to use zombies for the same reason that Romero used zombies. If you are a more discriminating fan of horror, the social commentary conveyed in Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead” and “Dawn of the Dead” should not escape you. (If it does escape you, then chances are you are not even reading this and instead reading sports scores or gossiping about the next installment of “Dancing with the Stars”).
Let’s think about this for a moment. Those zombies…
They are mindless.
They are consumers.
They are slow and easy to get around but dangerous in large numbers.
Does this sound like anyone you know?
I would love it if it ended here. But as things go, when you think things are bad enough, they can be worse. Especially with zombies.
The zombies have changed, and so have the politics.
I think it started in the film “Return of the Living Dead” in 1984. It was not a Romero production, but based on his story. The new zombies could talk, run very fast, even plan and execute ambushes, and destroying their brains would not stop them. This was a change in the zombies’ style because that film was an attempt at making something more exciting. After all, Romero already had the market cornered on the slow, shuffling zombies.
But politically the zombies have also gotten worse.
The zombies of the past were mindless and passive so it was only a matter of whether or not you were one of them. It did not, with those “Romero zombies,” matter what kind of living person you were. It was only the difference between the living and the dead that mattered. In many ways I think this was the case with the political side of American society in the 1960s. There were people, left, right, or way out in left (or right) field, who for the most part were activists that had some level of caring, even if misguided. Those were the activists. You were either an activist OR you were a mindless consumer, a zombie. You looked at a half glass of water and said it was half empty, or maybe said it was half full. But the zombies would say “Hey! I want a soda!” That’s as simply as I can describe it.
But with the political decline of society has come a zombie that is much worse. The 2004 remake of “Dawn of the Dead,” (not Romero) probably comes very close to depicting how the mindless electorate is today compared to how the original movie of that title portrayed the situation back in the late ’70s.
The 21st Century Zombie is a screaming, very fast, raging, violent creature. You can pump them with bullets and unless you break the pelvis they keep coming. By having to deal with them, you have to become almost like them and the risk of becoming one of them is far greater because, unlike the older kind of zombie where you had to make a mistake to get bitten, with these new zombies it’s almost a no-win proposition.
It mirrors the new politics. Now it’s not whether or not you are one of the living, it’s whether or not you can escape the undead and how far you will go to do it. You can pump them with intellectual bullets and unless you break the pelvis they keep coming. The undead that sees you from afar, starts screaming and snarling, and then goes after you at full run. Other zombies see that and join in. They are impervious to reason and zealously aggressive. Yeah, that’s how it is today. With people, with their ideas of how things should or should not be, with what activities they like or dislike and the control they attempt to exercise over anything they personally hate.
No longer can you simply be alive and disagree. No, the “undead,” the mindless consumers of the real world, see you and react – usually with anger, rage, or suspicion. They are still mindless, still consumers, but raging, angry, and proactive mindless consumers. You are not safe just being alive and being able to maneuver.
You are not safe having some wealth. They see that and want to take it – not with teeth and claws but with government. They see you acting independently and take this as some kind of threat. Worse, they would relish reporting you – “see something say something” –for it. It’s about group-think. Only groups have rights. In the public sector it’s this group or that and frequently all about minorities, while overlooking the most minor of minorities: the individual. The individual is a threat. The individual must be devoured – attacked – forced to be in a group – forced to join the ranks of the undead.
Let’s think a little more – while we still can – about that.
What really, at a distance, signaled the difference between the living and the undead, regardless of what kind of zombie film we are watching?
And in the real world, what awaits those who are not acting like mindless consumers and shuffling around?
Back in the old days of George Romero’s films, there was little to notify the zombies of your presence. Yes, enough zombies would surround you and get around to eating you if you were careless. But you could be alive and get away with it. And in the 20th century you could look around you, even think out loud that the whole thing was a rigged game, and then go find your own destiny with far less interference than you would get now.
You could zigzag around the zombies and safely get to where you wanted to go, even though they could not look around and realize that the world’s game is rigged, a rat race, or anything – you have to think to be able to do that.
But today the zombies scream, rage, chase, and attack. Now they call you a racist, bigot, terrorist, and whatever else they can come up with to put you on a terrorist watch list because you are not a zombie. They want you to die, they want laws passed against your means of making a living, They want your stuff taken away, they want you to get rounded up – or at the least would not care if it happened. They won’t eat your flesh, not personally, in the real world. But you expend flesh (blood actually) in earning wealth and making your living through your own labor – your life being expended over time in doing so during which time your flesh ages and withers – and the zombies seek to consume that “flesh,” your tangible life product, with taxes and punitive laws. The money goes somewhere – and they think it’s going to them. That is where they are a bit more mindless than consumers. But then, zombies will eat endlessly even after you blow out their guts with a shotgun. So the metaphor holds.
Zombies just shuffle around without something to attack. Even the newer zombies, when not having living flesh to run down and devour, just hang around. The mechanics of how they detect live flesh is never made clear in the movies. At a distance the only way they have to notice the living is if the living are not acting like them. If you walk the streets with a suspicious look, you might draw the attention of local law enforcement personnel. Even now they are trying to come up with body language scanners and protocols for spotting people with a “terrorist look.” In the meantime you can carry out an experiment: go about your business as someone with a purpose, being observant (alive) and see how people respond to your presence. Then go about in a football jersey and look dumb and see what changes. You might think there would not be much difference, but to whatever degree that is true now, it is temporary. Keep in mind that those zombies will be seeing a lot of propaganda to fear and reasons to report on each other in the future. If you are getting away with being a politically aware person now, it’s only a matter of time before the zombies notice you. In the 2004 remake of “Dawn of the Dead,” the living did, for a short time, manage to just walk right by zombies during a bold rescue mission. That didn’t last, though.
And that’s why running off to the hills to go live in a cave to escape tyranny won’t last either. Eventually a zombie will come by looking for the right spot to munch on his granola bar, see you, and report you. Since you won’t be dressed like the zombie, acting like the zombie, and might possibly be eating some red meat, too, you will be reported. Then zombies in body armor will show up.
Ordinarily, a fearful yet reasonable person might even doubt their own suspicion and be averse to getting someone else in trouble. But not so with the new zombie. The new zombie would enjoy it. The new zombie will see that you are some kind of person fitting a stereotype that they are conditioned to hate. The new zombie wants you gone. The new zombie is conditioned to think that you are the wellspring of terrorism or oppression or whatever. Much of what goes on in the limited thinking of a zombie depends on which drive-by media the zombie watches.
So if you are not shuffling around, unconscious, like them, you draw their attention. You are on the fringe.
How do you defend against that? Join a group? Become the undead? Should you be a red zombie, sacrificing liberty for security, or a blue zombie, sacrificing everything for a government check?
It does not matter. Both blue and red will be coming for you.