Zombies Among Us: iZombie Chows Down on Dehumanization Sep18

Zombies Among Us: iZombie Chows Down on Dehumanization...

In iZombie, zombies aren’t just mindless, shuffling corpses with skin rotting off their bones. Not if they have access to a regular supply of brains, anyway. The series’ main character, Liv Moore, is a member of Team Z, and she does the best she can, not only to survive in her new life but also to help others. She gets her meals by working at a morgue where she can sneak brains into her stuffed gnocchi on a daily basis. And because eating a brain allows her to see the dead person’s memories, she helps a police detective solve crimes by chowing down on murder victims’ cerebrums. As iZombie progresses, though, it becomes apparent that Liv isn’t alone. Seattle’s zombie population is surprisingly high, though most have learned to hide their presence (and ghoulish appearance) with hair dye and spray tans. This is a fact that Liv’s ex-fiancé, Major Lilywhite, learns through a traumatic series of events that ends with a zombie attempting to murder him. “I wasn’t crazy,” he tells Liv. “Zombies are real… And don’t worry, ‘cause I’m gonna kill them. I’m gonna kill them all.” Major automatically assumes all zombies are evil, and you can’t really blame him when brains are the main item on their menu. After hallucinating that Major accepts her zombie status, his announcement of a zombie hunting spree is shocking news to Liv. She continues to hide her true nature because she’s afraid he will hate her for it; she’s afraid he won’t think of her as a person any more. Not surprisingly, he’s less than happy when he does learn the truth. Read the rest of the article on Christ and Pop...

iZombie’s Lessons in Empathy Jun17

iZombie’s Lessons in Empathy...

I’m not a very empathetic person. There, I said it. I mean, I’m a not robot, but other people’s emotions have always made me uncomfortable (I have a strict “no crying in my office” rule for my students).  I have difficulty relating to other people’s experiences because I have trouble seeing the world through their eyes, their feelings. I think I can be sympathetic, feeling pity or sorrow for another’s misfortunes, but empathy is much, much harder for me. And it’s my own struggle with empathy that makes The CW’s iZombie such an interesting show. For the uninitiated, iZombie is a unique spin on the traditional zombie narrative: zombies exist but can (mostly) pass in regular society if they feed on brains. Brains not only prevent zombies from becoming the mindless instruments of death we all know and love, they also transfer the memories and disposition of the former owner to the zombie. When Liv Moore is infected, she takes a job in the city morgue to have a steady supply of brains. She uses these memories of murder victims to help the police solve crimes, all the while trying to uncover a larger zombie conspiracy. As ridiculous as this premise sounds, the show’s strength is in its exploration of larger issues. Liv’s decision to avoid her friends is based on what she considered best, and fails to take into account the other people’s wants and needs. In the pilot, when Liv realizes that she’s a zombie, her first course of action is to remove herself from her various relationships for the safety of her friends and family. Liv’s motivations are largely altruistic: she no longer thinks of herself as human, she doesn’t feel like she is safe to be around, and isolating herself is the...

Humanity and braaaaains Oct09

Humanity and braaaaains...

When Our Fearless Leader (my new nickname for our managing editor) announced the theme of plagues and health for this issue, I thought: “What a perfect time to write about zombies.” The more I thought about it though, the more I asked myself, what isn’t a perfect time to write about zombies? There are just so many possibilities with the undead. Part of what makes zombies such a rich subject is that they connect to fears about the darkest possibilities of humanity—humanity at its most base and inhumane, lacking compassion, reason or understanding. Zombies can represent the mindlessness of our cultural landscape and our unthinking response to that landscape. Over the past ten years—following an abundance of zombie movies, novels, comics, and video games—dozens of authors have connected the undead to topics such as philosophy, economics, and theology (the theologians especially love the scene in Matthew when the dead rise from their graves after Jesus’ resurrection). But for me, the most interesting connection to draw is still the link between the undead and disease, which has, since the 1970s, become a core aspect of the zombie mythos. Zombies are assumed to be the result of some sort of unknown (possibly engineered) and highly contagious virus. This pandemic aspect not only adds to the horror (now we’re not only at risk of being killed, possibly eaten, but also of being infected), but defining zombies as contagions creates room to explore questions about humanity and evil. Movies like Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later… and shows like The Walking Dead and its recently aired prequel Fear the Walking Dead use zombie narratives to wrestle Zombies can reveal our helplessness in the face of global pandemics.with large ethical issues: if zombies are created by infection (as opposed to voodoo,...