29 October 2010

Zombies from Mars?

From Alessandra Stanley’s New York Times review of The Walking Dead TV series:

All it really takes to outrun a zombie is a car. Also, a bullet to the head will stop one cold. And that may explain why so many men prefer zombies to vampires: zombie stories pivot on men’s two favorite things: fast cars and guns. Better yet, zombies almost never talk.

Vampires, especially of late, are mostly a female obsession. Works like “Twilight” and “True Blood” suggest that the best way to defeat a vampire is to make him fall so in love that he resists the urge to bite. And that’s a powerful, if naïve, female fantasy: a mate so besotted he gives up his most primal cravings for the woman he loves.

Vampires are imbued with romance. Zombies are not. (Zombies are from Mars, vampires are from Venus.)
I’d like to dismiss this dichotomy as specious, but then I think about the writers behind the trends.

The Walking Dead is based on a comics series by a male writer, Robert Kirkman. It builds on the modern zombie mythology established by Night of the Living Dead, scripted by John A. Russo and George A. Romero. More recent stories based on the same mythology came from Alex Garland (28 Days Later), Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead), and Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (Zombieland). Even Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which supposedly bridges the gender gap, comes from a male writer, Seth Grahame-Smith.

The modern vampire, erotic and (unlike Bram Stoker’s Count Dracula) morally conflicted, was made popular by Ann Rice, a female novelist. The Twilight movies are based on books by Stephenie Meyer, the True Blood TV series on novels by Charlaine Harris.

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