While some people tuning into the third season premiere of The Walking Dead on Sunday are hoping to catch up with a primetime favorite, Lehigh University associate professor of English Dawn Keetley suggests that some people may be taking notes on how to survive in a post-apocalyptic future. In a recent article in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Keetley discusses the relationship between current society and the rise of zombie culture.
Society has developed a fascination with zombies, something that Keetley doesn't think is an accident. The world depicted in The Walking Dead almost seems to mirror our own. When considering things like "9/11, the terror threat, the economy," she says, "people are starting to imagine the end of society as we know it."
Keetley, who is currently editing a collection of essays about the show entitled Better Angels: 'The Walking Dead's' Allegories of the Social and the Post Human, suggests that our fascination with zombies comes from the fact that zombies force us to take a hard look at ourselves.
While zombies may force us to explore our understanding of humanity, they also depict an end to society - something that "in a weird way, [we may] long for," Keetley says. "If there's no society, that means no taxes, no mortgages, no worries about unemployment." However, we would never accept our place in a zombie culture, constantly struggling to maintain the mentality of "us" versus "them."
At the end of the day, it's a struggle we seem sure to win. "When we have zombies, the survivors - and of course we'd be survivors - get to pick up guns and keep them out," she says. Even though our victory seems secure, zombies add an exciting element to the battle. As Keetley points out, "an apocalypse without zombies would be kind of boring."