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WIU Professor Tries to Interpret Zombie Fad

Aug 13, 2013

It doesn’t need to be Halloween for zombies to be the talk of the day.

Stories such as The Walking Dead, Dawn of the Dead, and Left 4 Dead are receiving plenty of attention. But what has made the undead so popular?

Western Illinois University professor Dr. David Banash is trying to answer that question. He specializes in contemporary American literature, film, and pop culture.

All the resentment of everyday life, all our desire for violence, we're allowed to exercise that
AMC's "The Walking Dead"

“What I’m particularly interested in as a scholar” said Banash, “is how we make meaning in our everyday lives. A large part of how we do that is through the popular culture that we consume.”

Banash says the zombie craze is similar to the 1980s cyborg obsession, which reflected society’s concerns about the advancement in technology.

He said that was replaced in the ‘90s  with the vampire fad. It reflected openness in sexuality as well as the gay rights movement.

Banash said there are reasons why the zombie has now made its way in the pop culture world.

“Without impunity or guilt, we can kill them,” said Banash. “All the resentment of everyday life, all our desire for violence, we’re allowed to exercise that, to feel justified in it and to do it without any guilt at all.”

Banash said much like the alien, killer cyborgs, and monster movies of the past, zombies continue the desire of society to want a change in everyday life.

He is currently writing an essay that will eventually will be published on Popmatters.com