Saturday, May 09, 2009

DAWN OF A DUD. How goes it in the culture-war think tanks of the Right? S.T. Karnick considers at Big Hollywood several edu-macated theses on the popularity of zombie movies. But this is all padding, and Karnick eventually sweeps it aside for his own theory:
No, none of these explanations gets to the essence and explains the enduring appeal of this cultural phenomenon over the past four decades.

I think the causality is the other way around. Both the zombie appeal and the swine flu fears are caused by two things: the news media’s increasing use of scare tactics in trying to lure audiences, and the socialists’ continuous use of fearmongering to press for political power.
Should readers wonder at the notion that Shaun of the Dead and such like are meant to stir citizens' deep, secret fears of the philosophy of Charles Fourier and Eugene Debs, he explains he's talking about fear of Alar in apples, nuclear war, the "housing 'crisis,'" and global warming, which are all equally ways in which "the socialists and their media satraps continually raise fears of everything conceivable." This is "sufficient to account for the dominant sense of unease and constant fear one can see among much of the contemporary American public." Clearly the man has never read a week's worth of the New York Post.

If you're still not clear on what this has to do with zombie movies, here's Karnick's kicker:
The irony is that for the public to give in to this scam would be the one sure way for the zombies to win.
To recap, Karnick starts with an alleged attempt to understand why people like zombie movies, and ends with him characterizing his political opponents as -- well, not zombies, since his opponents, following his logic, cause zombies; maybe he means the mysterious zombie pathogen. Maybe he means people are afraid they'll be bitten by Al Gore and begin to believe in global warming.

Or maybe he doesn't mean anything at all except that zombies are a bad thing and he is thus excited to associate them with socialists (that is, liberal Democrats), and Big Hollywood has very forgiving publication standards.

To make matters worse, he drags Mencken into it:
In their neverending quest to wrest more power by creating what H. L. Mencken correctly characterized as an endless series of hobgoblins requiring a socialist elite’s powers to destroy, the socialists and their media satraps continually raise fears of everything conceivable...
Naturally he doesn't link; this is from Mencken's In Defense of Women, and the passage from which it comes doesn't mention socialists at all, and is explicitly about the starting and conduct of modern wars, which Mencken attributes to modern civilization "especially under democracy." But I don't think Karnick was purposely misleading his readers; he clearly lost the thread back when he was asking, "How many words do you want?" Culture warriors don't have to think too hard about metaphors; free association is what they're all about.

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