Updated: Sep 6
This week starts with a poll I have created to settle a debate. Are zombies un-dead or merely infected? I touched on this in week one and with my research of what real cases of "zombiism" we actually have, only one actually has a case of a species affected by a zombie style virus, on the zombie chickens fit into this category.
In terms of the project, this is a defining question, although quite a basic ask, this opens or closes the rights and humanity of a zombie.
Although the results are close, I believe the pole demonstrates that we do not have to view the zombies are exclusively un-dead. Furthermore, in a lot of the zombie media, I have researched so far, the concept of them being undead is only assumed and at no point do we get confirmation of true un-dead entities.
I would argue that zombie media is edging more and more to an infected state over pure un-dead. Even though series like The Walking Dead, pursues an un-dead narrative, other media like The Girl with All the Gifts and iZombie have shown a more humanist view of zombies. Both movies this week; The Last Man on Earth (1964) and Army of the Dead also demonstrated the self-consciousness of their zombies.
Looking back at the case of the fungus, infecting ants, it was shown that the ant's brain was not attacked by the parasite and was about muscle control, explaining how the ant is a prisoner in its own body. This asks the question, does my outbreak have the same effect? Imagine being fully aware of becoming a zombie, with no control of what you are doing?
The end of this week will see a case panel review in which I get to present my findings so far to some peers and someone outside of the course working within the design industry. For this, I need to prepare a four-minute presentation.
At this stage of a project, there is the challenge of presenting eight weeks' work into a four-minute presentation. Presentations are always quite difficult as if not done right people's minds will wander and switch off, which results in not being able to maximise your feedback.
In part of this presentation, I need to start considering where my output will be. I am now starting to form where I think the angle of the project needs to go. I had originally thought about the Covid-19 pandemic as a base of my study, however, now I am drawn toward different areas:
Conspiracy/post-truth is a strong contender and has been since the beginning. In the interview this week, control was brought up and the backbone of conspiracies is about control. As it is a strong topical subject, there could be scope for a strong design solution.
Of the three, capitalism, likely would spread into either of the other two areas. like Conspiracy/post-truth, capitalism has been in my head from early on in this project. I feel it's an important area of most real-world situations and the protection of capitalist society would be considered, even in an end of the world scenario.
I think the zombie rights, issue could be an interesting angle to go through. It was the reason to hold a poll on what counts as a zombie. A lot of more modern zombie genre is swaying towards zombies as sentient and as such the argument of how they are treated becomes interesting.
As well as subject areas to focus on, Consideration of my design output is now needed. I
This week also saw my first interview, I got some insight into an enthusiast's view on zombiism. The interview supports this idea of the survivalist and control of people (conspiracy/post-truth) in a post-apocalyptic world. It is interesting that the participant looked at a lot of movies as a what not to do guide and would do things a lot different from the films. As he said he was prepared for an apocalypse, I wondered if he had read the Max Brookes, Zombie Survival Guide, based on its in-depth breakdown of tools and ideas. I think that it's interesting to know if the other participants have prepared themselves for if it happens and if the zombie genre resonates with people based on preparation for an end of the world scenario.
Army of the Dead
Instead of breaking down whole plots in my blogs, I will now just focus on ideas and issues raised. This is because I have found myself spending too much time breaking down plots that are not actually necessary to the project. I will leave links where possible.
With the areas, I have considered defining my project, Army of the Dead covers all three. After an escaped "zombie" from a military transport gets out and kills the soldiers guarding its transportation, it heads to the nearest city, Las Vegas. Three years later, Vegas is barricaded off from the rest of the world. The city is divided into two parts. Ground zero, where the zombies are and then a refugee camp for survivors, who can not afford to leave. A team is assembled to go in to recover $200 million, which the owner already states the insurance has already paid out.
Abuse of authority
In the refugee camp, we witness, the refugees, volunteers and security. The guard Burt Cummings, shows his abuse of power early on in the film. He has the 'power' to have people taken away on his say so. Getta points out that no one will question him. He uses this power to sexually harass the women in the camp. This is confirmed later by Lilly, who justifies setting him up to be taken by the zombies, that he was raping the women in the camp. She essentially, excuses street justice, through the idea that he was not going to be stopped by higher authorities and that they needed to make a sacrifice, so why not a rapist.
Greed and control
The basis of the plot is about greed. Although, the mercenaries, have their reasons for wanting their cut of the money. It is through the initial idea that the casino owner wants the money in the vault, even though he has already been compensated for it. The mercenaries are prepared to face certain death (or at least some of them) to try and get their cut.
The team is accompanied by Martin, who has his own secret mission. His mission, he explains when he double-crosses the team is the real reason for going in, which is to collect a zombie's head. The head, in Martins's words, is more valuable than the money, as the head could be used for military applications. Ownership of such a item, that can be used as a weapon would certainly give the owner control on others through the fear of releasing it.
Like, I am legend (alternative ending), we see thee leader of the zombies have an emotional attachment to a female zombie. With the exception of the 'living offering' in the form of Burt, the main hive of zombies is not interested in the mercenaries. Until the zombie queen is captured and decapitated. We see our had zombie return the body to the hive and this is where we discover that she was pregnant. This sends the mission into chaos as he unleases the zombies upon the mercenaries.
Lily, early on points out that Vegas has become their kingdom and there is a hierarchy. Suggesting that, although in a zombie state there is also community. The tension in the film is that they are going to drop a nuclear bomb on the city, which although you would not want the zombies roaming free, they are contained. The zombies are a society, although not conventional (to western standard), and the United States government are to extinguish the community, with no real investigation of them as people. This comes back the idea zombies are simply a threat and must be destroyed.
Although, technically, you could argue that the first death is the soldiers, who are white. I would argue the first significant death is Burt. Theo Rossi, who plays Burt is of mixed race: Italian, Spanish, Syrian, Lebanese, and North African (Ngozika, 2018).
As well as being the first significant death, Burt is also portrayed as an evil man. We see a further two non-whites die in the film before a white death.
I looked at this idea of non-whites dying first in zombie films. The Huffington Post, tested this idea, sampling 25 horror films and concluded that 52 per cent of the time white women would be the first to die. Although this sample pool is far to small to conclude what demographic dies first (Newcomb, 2013).