Oh zombie, where art thou?Is interest in zombies decaying? Have we already hit our zombie peak? According to Google, yes! A quick look at Google trends suggests that zombies and interest in the zombie apocalypse is in decline, having hit its peak in 2012. As a writer who likes to write about the undead, I have one thing to say: yikes! Just a little reflection seems to suggest that Google's all-seeing eye might have discovered the peak on the trend. Dear zombies, is our time together coming to an end?
With the popularity of The Walking Dead and the recent releases of World War Z and Warm Bodies, it seems like zombies are everywhere. But The Walking Dead is now in its fourth season, and while there are a few more undead movies in the making, the zombie fad seems to be going the way of a Season 4 walker: decayed, y'all! It begs a question: will we be sick of zombies by 2015?
If you are an author shopping around a new novel, chances are you have learned that publishers are not looking for anything dystopian (unless, of course, you're the JK Rowling of dystopian). Bummer. If publishers are not buying "end of the world" books, chances are that they - like Google - have already anticipated the end of the trend.
Why so fast, dear zombies, you kings of the shambling horde? After all, vampires hung around for ages; why are the zombies already exiting stage left?
Trends tell us about us. Zombies are little more than lightly veiled metaphors for the mindless deadness many of us feel regarding our daily lives. Pop culture is really great about giving us an outlet for our frustrations.
Remember when Fight Club reminded us that we are all just mindless cogs in a machine, our lives dictated by media as we live in cubical hell dreaming of a new Ikea sofa:
Or in other words:
We have also questioned the very make-up of our reality: "What is real? How do you define real?" In The Matrix, we discovered that the "discomfort" we feel regarding our daily lives stemmed from the reality that what we defined a real was not, in fact, real. Reality was a construct. Well, reality is still a construct. Now we just use zombies instead of Christian/Buddhist/Hero symbols--wrapped in lycra--to talk about it.
Symbols in pop culture reflect underlying social currents. Zombies are representative of our anxious and angstful nature. We have a lot to be anxious about: war, disease, crumbling economy, crumbling interpersonal lives, etc. Zombies tap into all the fears lurking just underneath the surface. It is curious, then, that the zombie trend is closing. What does that suggest about us, about how we feel about our world?
While it makes me sad that zombies are on their way out . . . particularly because I arrived at the zombie party a bit late . . . it makes me very curious to see what new incarnations we will metaphorically take on. Part of me hopes that maybe we are feeling better about ourselves. Maybe movements like steampunk suggest a resourceful spirit that wants to emerge during this trying time. Or maybe the next big thing is in a file on YOUR laptop. Get to work.