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Apocalyptic Culture (Event Response #3)

About a month ago, I saw Zombieland 2 in theaters. I didn’t really think there would be much for me to write about but actually, the movie touches on an interesting topic in terms of culture. In the film, each of the characters uses their own methods to cope with the stress and terror of the zombie apocalypse. For Tallahassee, it’s things like cars, guns, Elvis, twinkies, and killing zombies. For Columbus, it’s a list of rules that he uses to feel prepared and therefore safer. In this sequel, we see Little Rock, the youngest of the bunch, become an adult and despite the zombies, she goes through the phase where she needs to escape her “parents” and feel like she has a life of her own.

This leads her to a place called Babylon (allegedly named for the song, not the ancient civilization), which is filled with a bunch of young people (probably 17-25 mostly) who have big walls to protect them from the zombies and don’t allow any firearms. In fact, they make you turn in your guns at the entrance and they melt them down to make metal peace pendants to give out. There’s a lot of music and bright clothing and it is definitely intended to imitate the hippie movement. Even though it’s presented in a bit of a silly light, I actually thought of the basis of the terror management theory, which explains the fact that we distract ourselves from the ever-present terror of death (and we learned further about how leaders present themselves as a protection/part of the distraction because of this natural tendency but that’s not as relevant here).

But it really made me think about how people use culture — even Tallahassee with his cars, guns and twinkies — to cope with certain things and to uplift themselves from tragedy. It’s why funny zombie movies (like Zombieland) are more relatable (I know, weird to call a zombie movie relatable). It kind of allows the viewer to think to themselves “oh, I might actually behave like that in a zombie apocalypse” rather than looking at Milla Jovovich in Resident Evil and thinking “well, I’d be fucked if that ever happened.” This response was a little all over the place, but I also recommend the film if you like zombie comedies! (I originally had something to say about how the women in the film represent archetypes — the dumb blonde, the rebellious teen, the woman afraid of commitment, the older debonair woman — but then the post got too long, so I’ll leave it as an additional thought if anyone wants to think about it while watching the movie.)

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