I went to see the new movie Zombieland Monday night. All I can say is that it was freakin' great, two rotting thumbs up! With all of the lame vampire movies like Twilight coming out lately it is comforting that zombie films keep getting better and better. The zombies are getting faster too, running after live humans like rabid dogs. Of course they are still brain dead which is what makes them so fun to play with.
I have long felt that zombie movies, along with some alien movies, creep us out so well because they play on our subconscious fears of being eaten. It wasn't that long ago in our evolution that we were being chased by truly carnivorous animals. Because we have 'subdued' and destroyed the natural environment we like to think we are at the top of the food chain, but in our hearts we know this is just an illusion. There are predators we can't see like viruses, and then there are the worms and maggots that turn us back into dirt. Perhaps what we truly fear is a predator that treats us with the same cold indifference with which we treat the animals we prey on. In movies the aliens are usually smarter than we are, able to grow us in factory farms and incubate their babies in our bodies. Zombies are more like a bus load of rednecks pulling into McDonald's and feasting on whatever unethical toxic abominations their lazy appetites are craving that day. Zombies don't mind biting into a ninety-eight pound alcoholic marinated in his own urine, the zombie equivalent of a happy meal.
Zombieland footnotes for vegans
There are some fun vegan-related things going on in Zombieland that the omnivorous movie goer might miss, so I will be so kind as to mention them for you. First of all is the very source of the plague that turns humans into zombies, as described by the narrator of the story, Columbus Ohio (the four 'survivors' who we follow in the movie all go by the name of the place they came from). He tells us the plague was a viral mutation of Mad Cow Disease, the popular name for Bovine spongiform encephalopathy or BSE. In reality BSE is not a virus but an infectious brain wasting disease caused by an abnormal protein known as a prion. It is a favorite topic amongst vegans, because it is a disease that kills people who eat infected animal flesh. When vegans hold our underground cult meetings we often fantasize about a plague that will wipe out all the flesh eating humans and leave only us. BSE is the closest thing out there so far. It currently takes decades of incubation between when a human ingests a prion till their brain becomes full of holes and they start acting like a zombie. Perhaps it was mad vegan scientists trying to modify the prion so it would work faster that accidentally caused the Zombie_pocalypse. Muah ha ha!
Not all vegans are so evil. The most interesting character in Zombieland by far is Tallahassee. He just likes killing zombies. Nothing evil about that. "Time to nut up or shut up" is how he puts it. Tallahassee is played by none other than Woody Harrelson, a bona-fide vegan. One of the main plot lines in the movie is Tallahassee's quest for Twinkies. He believes that someday Twinkies will reach their expiration date, and he fully intends to enjoy them while they last. In our world of course Twinkies are not vegan (and they last forever). To play the part Woody had vegan Twinkies made especially for him to eat. This in turn caused a wave of media stories about Woody's vegan Twinkies—a positive plug for veganism! Woody gets further vegan praise for convincing Zombieland director Ruben Fleischer to eat vegetarian for the duration of the shoot.
If we were all raised in a vegan society Hollywood would be releasing movies about carnivorous plants when halloween came around. Because we live in a less perfect world we get the zombies instead. Eating flesh is a zombie thing to do. Our parents feed us meat before we are conscious of the ethical dilemma of doing so, and by the time we are able to see the contradictions we are embedded in culture, driven by our herd mentality to fit in, and overcome by our Pavlovian salivations for the smells and tastes of cooking flesh. We don't think of the horrors we subsidize, we just stuff ourselves full of whatever is easiest to devour. A lot like zombies.
Dan Pirarro is a vegan and the creator of the comic Bizarro that is syndicated in newspapers around the country. It is the funniest comic out there (only a zombie would disagree) and I highly recommend his BIZARROBLOG to see not only the gut-bustingly funny comics but Dan’s uncanny thought process that creates them.
Eventually the vegan zombie meme that caught on was "Grains" instead of "bran."
Updated 7/18/2018: Photos in this post are from the October 24, 2009 Zombie Pub Crawl in Northampton Massachusetts, which took place two days after this blog was posted. I removed the original photos of an earlier zombie pub crawl in New Olreans because the featured vegan zombie, who I was dating at the time, ate my heart.