The Zombie Rights Campaign Blog

The Real Controversy over the ‘Dead Island’ Trailer

I was somewhat bemused to see this particular editorial arguing that there is no reason to find the ‘Dead Island’ trailer controversial:

So Dead Island has been announced, and everyone’s going gaga over the trailer. Forgive me for being so blunt, but I fail to see why. Various industry outlets such as MCV and The Guardian are suggesting that it’s one of the most controversial teasers in gaming history.

Really? I’ve watched the thing about fifteen times already, just to see if there was something my diminishing brain power could discover. But every time I came to the same conclusion. There is no controversy over the Dead Island trailer.

The issue can’t be the fact that a kid’s been turned into a fictional flesh-eating member of the undead. What parent gets nightmares about that? Of course, it can’t be the powerful idea of failing to rescue your child from danger, either. Even in games, that’s been covered by Quantic Dreams’ Heavy Rain, and there was barely any controversy over that.

Beyond games, this concept has been raised in countless films in the past, most prominently Ransom – so what makes Dead Island, as brilliant a trailer as it is, worthy of discussion in a world where this sort of idea is played out all the time?

I checked out The Guardian piece that was referenced here, to see what their take on the potential controversy was:

A family is slaughtered during a summer getaway on a tropical island. That’s essentially the narrative driving this astonishing trailer for forthcoming first-person shooter Dead Island. Told in a reverse, in a style similar to Coldplay’s video for The Scientist, it’s an unusually affecting and emotional experience.

But, centering as it does on the gruesome death of a young girl, it is also causing controversy. Some – including MCV’s Ben Parfitt – are questioning whether scenes of a family being hacked to death and a girl plummeting from the window of a tall building should be considered marketing material for a zombie slash-’em-up. Parfitt later linked to this blog post, written by a father whose own young daughter died in 2007.

I would suggest that horror movies have always traded on the emotionally wrenching duality of the zombie figure – part monster, part recognisable human.

The problem with both of these pieces, particularly the Guardian one, is that neither recognizes that the real ‘controversy’ here shouldn’t be the precise nature of cinematic violence directed against one set of fictional protagonists in a short trailer, but rather the fact that neither of these ‘journalists’ even *considers* the impact of the vicious Anti-Zombie prejudice on display in ‘Dead Island’ as a whole.

Oooh, an adorable, presumably American, little white girl dies, and it’s stop-the-presses controversial, but when Zombies are mowed down, routinely and repeatedly in this genre, nobody bats an eye. In fact, they usually cheer.

Remember this scene from ‘Dawn of the Dead’?

George Romero ‘went there’ with the issue of Living Supremacist entertainment and violence against children, decades ago. But because they were *Zombie* kids, somehow, it was ok. It isn’t even played out in the movie as a particularly momentous occasion, or weighty act; the Zom-tykes are mown down and the ‘survivors’ continue their looting.

I guess the message here is that for The Guardian and many others, cinematic violence against kids is ok so long as they have a green, blue or ashy grey skin coloration, and for gaming sites like Spong, Anti-Zombie violence is just ok in general.

That’s the real issue this trailer has exposed, and it’s not even a controversy; it’s just plain bigotry.

About The Author

The role of 'Administrator' will be played tonight by John Sears, currently serving as President of The Zombie Rights Campaign.


2 Responses to “The Real Controversy over the ‘Dead Island’ Trailer”

  1. [...] the Zombie Rights Campaign point out; The problem with both of these pieces, particularly the Guardian one, is that neither [...]

  2. games says:


    [...]The Zombie Rights Campaign Blog » The Real Controversy over the ‘Dead Island’ Trailer[...]…

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