Pop Culture Misconceptions About Zombies (and How They Can Kill You)

trip line for burglarsWhile watching Zombieland a few years ago, I was struck by the notation, made almost in passing, that in a zombie apocalypse, larger and slower people would be the first to go. Certainly I personally would not win a footrace against well, anyone, but in a zombiecalypse, I don’t need to be speedy. I just need the right equipment.

Telling fat people that they’re doomed when the undead rise is simple fatphobia that doesn’t actually serve us very well. So let me tackle this and other popular misconceptions about zombie behavior.

1. Zombies aren’t fast. It’s oh so fear-inspiring to depict them this way, but frankly, they don’t have a lot of synapses firing upstairs, so actual running is nearly impossible. But let’s say they’re ambling at a quickish pace. Put up some trip wire outside and inside your barricaded home. Now you’re both faster and more agile than most zombies, and your size need not be a factor in outrunning the postmortem.

2. Zombies can’t smell you hiding behind the windows. Homo sapiens have the worst sense of smell of all mammals on Planet Earth. Dead homo sapiens aren’t suddenly equipped with magic sniffers. Yes, they may allocate more of their olfactory nerves to locating nearby brain material, but even this is debatable. As one can imagine, zombies make lousy experiment subjects. But don’t waste precious time and energy trying to make your house smell-insulated. Duct taping oneself inside is as bad an idea now as it was when the Secretary of Homeland Security suggested it after the 2001 terrorist attack.

3. Zombies don’t run from bright light. Looks like someone got their vampires and zombies mixed up! Zombies don’t give a fig about sunlight or any other light source. They’ll trundle on along no holds barred. Don’t presume that just because we’ve seen zombies in movies cling to dusty darkness means that you’re safe from preying, groping arms in the middle of the street. Nobody is safe.

walking zombies4. Zombies are like New York City—they never sleep. I laugh at any zombie depiction where they undead are curled up, snoring, and our hero goes tiptoeing past them. Hello, dead things don’t breathe, so they don’t snore, and they most definitely don’t need any shuteye. We must remain vigilant and committed to watch patrols, 24/7. The zombies never let up; we can’t, either.

5. Zombies may look pretty nice, all things considered. Popular culture would have us believe that zombies always come in decrepit, moldy packages, but remember that some zombies are recently undead. They may still have fairly clean clothing and an attractive appearance, at least until a limb or two falls off of them. As for the rest of us, when are we supposed to shower and keep up on our hygiene? We humans may look (or smell) worse than zombies, so don’t forget to use another means to determine if your best friend is really gunning for your gray matter. Asking who the current President is works pretty well.

Good luck! Remember popular culture is fun and entertaining, but when it comes to staying alive in a zombie apocalypse, it’s just garbage information. Don’t sit down and start a marathon of zombie movies to get tips on managing the onslaught.

That’s what the zombies want you to do.

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4 Comments on “Pop Culture Misconceptions About Zombies (and How They Can Kill You)”

  1. April 30, 2012 at 9:39 am #

    The creatures in I Am Legend were vampires, which is why they shunned light. You make an excellent point about zombie’s being slow… slower than pretty much anyone. I’m not really sure why people are always running screaming. They could basically fast walk while eating a muffin and still escape unscathed.

  2. April 30, 2012 at 9:40 am #

    Sorry, don’t know where that apostrophe in zombies came from. A zombie apostrophe? Zompostrophe!

    • evmaroon
      April 30, 2012 at 10:13 am #

      I will have to sketch this out later.

  3. irishup
    April 30, 2012 at 12:23 pm #

    Agreed; the first to go are going to be The Deniers. Those people who cling to their world-view no matter WHAT evidence you give them that they’ve got it wrong.

    The next to go are the short-sleeve set. I find that too little attention is given to the clothing factor. Like spring in New England, the ZA calls for LAYERS! Coverings that protect from the stray scratch or nip. Coverings that can be shed if they are grabbed. It might even be a good time to revisit the dreaded 80s parachute jumpsuit. I mean, if you’re already stanky, how much worse is head-to-toe silver-grey nylon going to make your fashion statement? Plus leggings = more layers.

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