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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Vampires we want to be, the Zombies we are...

I was reading this article about 'monsters' on this Orthodox blog, and it returned me to a concept that I had forgotten long ago:

In short, this article discusses how popular 'monsters' are often extensions of how we look at ourselves.  The two most popular are vampires and zombies.

On the one hand, the article argues, vampires are elites.  They are glamorous, even with that embarrassing habit of killing the living and drinking their blood.  They are ultimately parasites... but they look good at doing it.

The vampire is also master of his relationships.  He hypnotizes and plots... vampires are always plotting.  Of course, their plans are usually frustrated, otherwise there would be an apocalypse and eventually you'd run out of living people to feed off of.  So, he can never be too successful.  At least, we hope...

On the other hand, you have the zombie.  He's the easier one: he feeds, but there is no thinking involved.  He is attractive because he represents that break from plotting and scheming and hypnotizing that the vampire is stuck doing over and over again  He is also a parasite that must be defeated, and the only hope is that he is easily crushed, thus expendable.

What's the underlying message?  Popular culture values the parasite.  People who produce are no longer at the pinnacle of our admiration.  When people are hungry for their lives to have meaning, and they look to modern culture, the examples given to them are consumers.

The addict is the ultimate 'consumer.'  He plots like a vampire, but tires and quickly becomes the zombie.  Both feed off of others who must ensure the survival of both: without the living to feed off of, the vampires and zombies both will starve.  The addict will starve as well without an enabling live arrangement, replete with codependents will to contribute to his parasitical existence.  The addict drains his world of life rather than contributing to it. 

The vampire hates God, but he zombie forgets Him (and all his other problems).  The addict outside recovery can surely relate.

Addiction can be glamorized like being part of the 'living dead,' it's unavoidable reality is it is unnatural.  It becomes its own torment.  The zombie must be destroyed, and the vampire must ultimately meet his stake, because he will eventually run out of 'deserving victims' and begin to prey on the innocent.  Were either to have a shred of conscience, this would be a horror of its own.  When the addict begins to feed on those he loves, he yearns to be the zombie so as not to feel his own guilt.

I think it is telling that so many people are drawn to these characters, and I do think it says something about the world we are in.  We are all tempted to be parasites, to live as we want and leave others the responsibility to feed us.  Our world is not one of happiness, but one of burdened consciences and profound emptiness.

Deep down, we realize the true hero is the protagonist who takes up the responsibility of killing the vampire/zombie.  However, the 'Twilight' series removes this character... the vampires instead battle an equally vacuous group of monsters.  Some stories will involve a 'traitor vampire' or 'slow transforming zombie' as the hero, but these still involve a degree of hopelessness: the disease of self is too strong to overcome.  The self must ultimately die once infected by selfishness.

From a Christian perspective, this death of self is understandable: it is called the Cross.  One must be Baptized and kill this parasitical nature.

This death of the parasite is what the 12 Steps points towards.  Recovery is about killing our own vampire within us.

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