Zombies and Redemption.

So, I have a confession, I actually dared to watch a movie featuring zombies. I doubt any of you are really shocked, what do you know about my tastes, that’s pretty normal now.

Well it’s not for me, but I gave this one a pass because the zombies in it aren’t brain-eating monsters…except for ten seconds.

This movie was a Disney Channel Original, this movie was their average, not terrible, but not good.

Zombies, which is the full title, is about a post-post apocalyptic world, where in a very Divergent fashion, humans are split into two groups, those who are normal, and those who are infected with some virus that made them into zombies…because someone spilled lime soda on some electric device.

Yeah, WordGirl Levels of sense.

But this movie is for kids and younger teens, so I’ll let the silliness slide. The last thing I need is for horror movies to be a DCOM thing.

The story is about a boy zombie, named Zed, and a normal girl, who of course fall in love and unite to overturn cultural expectations. Since zombies are stigmatized and ostracized.

The whole thing is an obvious metaphor for privileged whites keeping down blacks and Hispanics. The zombies get all the worse jobs, they go to separate schools until the integration act that kicks off this movie.

The movie has one interesting turn. Zed uses his zombie powers to become good at football, but he is endangering himself and everyone else in the process because the only thing keeping him stable is a special watch that sends calming signals to their brain. So there’s that.

When Zed convinces his friend Eliza to help him override his watch slightly so he can win the games, people start to accept the zombies, but unfortunately the anti-zombie kids hijack the signal and send Zed, Eliza, and their other friend into full on zombie death mode. Though Zed seems to resist it briefly.

For awhile things start to go terribly wrong, but then the girl Zed likes fixes everything by having he zombies and cheerleaders unite to win the cheer champions ship…which they don’t, but they do end up bring humans into zombie territory and end with a happy song and dance number.

It was stupid; but the elements of the movie do call for some closer examination, not because the movie is brilliant but because the way it was made reflects a lot about what the writers think teens are into and what they think we should be concerned about.

The biggest problem with this movie is that is mishandled the zombie thing entirely. It made it a metaphor for race, but the zombie virus is a way closer metaphor for mental or social disabilities.

Comparing it to Autism would have been smarter. Like the zombies, autistic people can have triggers that make them go ballistic, they could hurt people. So can other special needs kids. And they can’t help it, necessarily.

It’s a pertinent question to ask how much special needs kids should be allowed to mingle with “normal” ones. There are real dangers to both us and them if they lose it, or get bullied, but is there a greater danger if we don’t learn to understand each other? I think there is.

That’s a worthwhile conversation to have, but this movie doesn’t have it. The cheerleaders who mess up the special watches just to get the zombies to go nuts are never caught, the zombies never even bring it up to them, at the end of the movie they are all cool. Even though the brats could easily have gotten someone killed. They almost did, in fact. There’s no lasting impact from that very serious problem.

All we get is Eliza whining about how they took all the blame.

In all fairness if Eliza hadn’t been screwing with the watches to begin with, the cheerleaders couldn’t have done it. Eliza shows no remorse or horror for what she did, Zed admits it was wrong, but he lingers no longer on it. The girl he likes doesn’t chew him out. Nothing.

It’s no use, in a story like this, to pretend that Zombies aren’t different. The age old problem “Should we blame them for what happened before they were born?” presents itself. Should we punish people for something that is not their fault?

And yet whether we like it or not, in real life kids do get punished for what isn’t their fault. They bear the brunt of other people’s mistakes.

We all have to choose what we will do about the problems we face, but it doesn’t follow that we’ll all make good choices.

This movie slightly touches on that when Eliza wants to sabotage the cheer championship, but it deflates almost instantly. She’s talked out of it in twenty seconds. Zed brings up the point that if they behave that way then they are the monsters everyone thinks they are.

Which  is a good point, but it wasn’t fleshed out to really mean much.

And is it problematic to use zombies at all? They are monsters, they do bad things, and we’d be justified in killing them if they were real. They aren’t human, strictly speaking. Though the movie uses it differently, still it leaves the brain-eating nastiness in there (I thought that was a mistake) then we do have to wonder, why should the humans want them around?

I have a problem with making monsters “relatable” the only reason I might have gone with it for this movie is because monster can be a metaphor, and a powerful one. Just not this time.

That’s an okay way to illustrate, I’ve used the example of zombies myself to teach kids in Sunday school what being spiritually dead might look like. It can work.

Comparing zombies to a certain race isn’t going to work because having a different skin color doesn’t make you a monster prone to eating people.

Making that cool isn’t good. It misses the point. When you admit that there’s something wrong with you, you can be helped. There can be redemption. Forgiveness.

But the more we try to justify our issues, the more ridiculous the situation becomes. The most grotesque things become acceptable.

The idea is to be removed from all that, set apart, cleansed. That’s the idea of holiness the bible talks about.

We’re all, you might say, infected with the virus of sin. We all try to control it, much like with the watches, some of us try to harness it, ultimately we end up hurting people because sin hurts. The wage of sin is death.

It’s not our fault we’re born into it, but we constantly make choices that make us weaker to it, and that is our fault. (See the parallels?)

I think the movie reflects our attitude toward perfection. We think that if we as a species can work together we might overcome our differences and dangers.

Wonder Woman is wiser, she knows that each of us has our own darkness we have to face, and love is what will make us able to do it.

So, that was a lot of thought for such a dumb movie, but sometimes figuring out what went wrong can be more work.

Until next time–Natasha.


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