There are many reasons why zombies are so popular these days in books, TV, movies and computer games. One of the more commonly held beliefs is the fact that there are very few enemies for westerners to feel comfortable dispatching these days. Violence sells in popular media because it is a fun fantasy experience, but violence needs people, or things, to be aimed towards. Movies, books, and computer games have done very well when they have aimed violence at non-human targets. This is because even though the violence is not real, some people feel that they cannot make a connection with violence against humans. However, violence against robots such as in the Matrix or the Terminator movies, or violence against Aliens such as in the Independence Day and Aliens movies, is a lot more palatable for a broader audience.
Psychologically, even horrific violence is acceptable if it is in self-defense
Zombies are of a similar ilk to demons, and are therefore fair game for killing. If you remove ethics from the situation, the person playing the computer game, watching the movie or reading the book is able to enjoy the violence, without any ethical or moral restrictions around its use. This is heightened by the fact that if the protagonist does not inflict violence upon the zombies, the zombies will kill them. This brings an element of self-defense into the equation.
Zombies are no longer scary, but a relentless killing entity is
Zombies are so over-used in popular culture that they are no longer scary. The fact that they congregate in hoards, that they cannot be scared, that they cannot experience mercy, and that their lust for flesh seems unstoppable, is enough to create an exciting dynamic, which is enough to carry a computer game, book or movie. The idea of an unstoppable force and malice has worked very well in previous usage. It brings about a feeling of helplessness that translates very well to the viewer/player. The reason that the first Terminator film was so scary was the fact that nothing seemed to be able to stop this relentless machine from hunting someone down. [Continue reading]