This Valentine’s Day was distinctive. In addition to the usual encouragement of self-love, and sending of gushing gifs amongst female friends, more people were sending greetings to family members and stressing the importance of acts of love within the community. Ash Sarkar, Senior Editor of Novara Media, said emphatically in a video message: ‘when you stop a charter flight from taking off and deporting asylum seekers, that’s love’. Perhaps an effect of delayed liberal mobilisation, after such angry right-wing resurgence, the concept of growing close to one another is being gradually – literally – redefined to be more liberal.
It is Valentine’s week – apparently that’s a thing now – a time of saccharine sweetness, hollow gestures, and empty consumerism in place of romance. In-keeping with the seasonal spirit, then, I want to talk to you today about hearts that long ceased to beat; about a festering horde of blank-faced ghouls, hungering to sink their teeth into human flesh. No, not the populace of shag-app Tinder. Today I am talking about actual zombies.
The undead have always possessed a special place in my own heart – sating more than a simple blood-lust in my own cinematic tastes. Zombies often shamble above and beyond the call of duty, creeping and clawing their way into socio-political territory rarely visited by the supernatural silver-screen. They often act as crude agents of social commentary – and sometimes even of justice. The reanimated corpses who so often fill our post-apocalyptic screens aren’t really a thing to be ‘feared’ by us as such; they are a cultural representation of us. Zombies are the fictional embodiment of the dominant section of society’s fear of a mobilisation of the filthy, impoverished masses.
As Robert Kirkman’s famous comic series (and subsequent televisual smash hit) so often reiterates, “We are the walking dead.”