Zombies are in fashion. The mindless, soulless creatures of haunted house nightmares are showing up in TV series, books, video games, and even academic literature. They have invaded the blogosphere in (re)animated discussions of humanity, survival skills, and the merits of owning a crossbow.
What is it about zombies that so captivates us?
Zombies are defined by their need to constantly consume. They are never satisfied. They roam far and wide, devouring everything in their wake, and always craving more. Consuming is the only thing that makes them happy, if happiness can be a zombie attribute.
In zombie lore, as in 21st-century life, consumption seems to be king. We've all felt that pang of jealously, that desire for more stuff, the "need" for better stuff. We can relate to the plight of the zombie, stuck in a life where to consume is to be happy, and to be happy is to have a better condo, a fancier car, a more expensive purse, a delicious bread-pudding.
Much like the virus infecting the walking dead, we too can in some ways become infected victims in our own lives. Sometimes we can become infected by the bombardment of advertisements and media messages that seep in and try to tell us how to think and what to want.
It is easy, at least in part, to define ourselves by the things that we have. It is easy to look around and declare that we lead the good life because we have the good stuff. What is harder is to be satisfied with what we don't have, to be able to quell the quest for consumption and be satisfied without.
The choice ultimately remains ours. We can become like the Living Dead, with an unquenchable thirst for designer shoes, or we can be the Living Living and define ourselves.