But Zombies Are Implausible Fun

I used to read what PZ Myers has to say on a pretty regular basis but don’t bother so much now. There are still some good posts there as well as some lively debate amongst the comments but at times I find there’s more snark than substance.

Anyhow, I was skimming the titles of the Pharyngula posts in my Feedly the other day and the one about Taking zombies to task caught my attention. Being a fan of zombie fiction and movies I hopped on over to see what he had to say.

I watch The Walking Dead but haven’t yet seen the episode mentioned in the post so don’t know if the gripe about antibiotics is right or not. It could well be as it often seems folk get mixed up about what antibiotics are effective against.

I don’t think anyone knows for sure whether the zombie plague is viral or not. If it was, then getting “splattered with zombie slime and goo and blood” would definitely be a problem. So perhaps it isn’t a virus? Of course, we’re talking horror fiction here so I think a certain amount of license is allowed – willing the suspension of disbelief and all that. No?

The rate of decay question is indeed a thorny one. That said, it’s often implied and sometimes asserted in zombie fiction (there’s that word again) that whatever causes dead folks to get up and lunch on the living screws with the decay process somehow, slowing it down dramatically. Now that’s not possible in the real world, of course, but then I think the number of brain-hungry zombies encountered by humanity over the years is pretty low. [Sorry, what’s that? Oh, I stand corrected. That number would be zero, apparently.]

I tend to agree that “Rick is a terrible, incompetent, awful leader.” His judgement is damned suspect at times, he causes his companions a lot of grief and puts them all at risk too frequently. He’s also been mentally and emotionally fucked-up by events (e.g. being left for dead, best friend screwing wife, wife dying in childbirth, conflicted over whether he’s doing right or wrong, that sort of thing) so I wouldn’t trust him to lead his buddies out of a wet paper bag. But then a fictional narrative without conflict would be a pretty dull beast indeed. Taking the group’s “internal conflicts” away, removing The Governor and taking all those far-fetched, juicy zombie bits out of the mix would make for rather bland tv.

Without them the comic book series wouldn’t have been very successful either.

If you play by real world rules zombies are indeed implausible. Just as vampires, werewolves, faster-than-light space travel, time travel, caped heroes, caped villains, magical spells, fire-breathing dragons, psychic phenomena, ghosts, demons and all those other fantastic ingredients are implausible.

But wouldn’t our fictional landscapes be dull places without them?


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