The Zombie Rights Campaign Blog

NPR Tells You What You Don’t Need to Know About Zombies

This article from NPR entitled ’8 Things Everyone Needs To Know About Zombies’ is a truly awful piece of mishmash, patently obvious trivia combined with wild speculation on fashionable topics and theories mixed with outright factual errors.

Not just errors about Zombies; errors about filmmaking, about the basic history of horror movies and the pop cultural (mis)treatment of the Differently Animated.

Let’s run down a few of the more egregious errors as we dissect the 8 things NPR wants you to believe about the Differently Animated, remotely close to true or otherwise:

#1 is just about how Zombies exist all over the world in cultural stories and myth, if you’re willing to cast a very wide net when you talk about ‘Zombies’.

#2 presents the radical idea that Dawn of the Dead, and some other zombie movies, are about capitalism and consumption.

These days, zombies are basically understood to be ghouls who consume the living. In fact, a large proportion of those who study zombies argue that they are basically a metaphor for consumption. George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead famously suggested this, showing zombies wandering through a mall in a strangely similar way to when they were humans.

If you’re under the impression that this is a thoughtful, deep critical analysis, you’ve obviously never seen the film, because Romero makes it explicit that yes, that is precisely what the zombies in his movie are representing. He does this in a slightly less than subtle way: he has his characters say so.

More than once.

[Fran and Stephen are observing from the roof of the mall]
Francine Parker: What are they doing? Why do they come here?
Stephen: Some kind of instinct. Memory, of what they used to do. This was an important place in their lives.

Francine Parker: They’re still here.
Stephen: They’re after us. They know we’re still in here.
Peter: They’re after the place. They don’t know why, they just remember. Remember that they want to be in here.

(quotes from IMDB)

Great catch there, NPR. *rolls eyes*

Moving on, #3 reminds us that the traditional Carribean concept/stereotype of Zombies involves slave labor, not flesh-devouring. Which is hardly news if you’ve seen, say, King of the Zombies or White Zombie (featuring Bela Lugosi no less), or any other member of the huge array of classic ‘Voodoo’ Zombie films.

#4 has this observation:

4. A Zombie Attack Is Probably The Worst Thing That Can Happen To You
The reason zombies are so terrifying to us is because they represent one of our greatest fears: a loss of our autonomy, our ability to control our bodies and minds.

Not to split hairs, but this is both an opinion and shallow. Don’t all attacks represent, by definition, a loss of control? Isn’t that the meaning of the word? If you’re in control or consenting, it’s not an ‘attack’.

#5 contains a giant load of Anti-Zombie prejudice:

5. Of All The Undead Things You Could Become, Zombies Are The Worst
As opposed to vampires, which are often represented as seductive, youthful superhuman creatures (or more recently as overly emotive teenagers), zombies are almost always cursed with an irreversible, less-than-attractive subhumanity in the single-minded pursuit of some task or thing (such as flesh or brains). With only a few imaginative exceptions, zombies cannot love, laugh or live freely.

I refuse to believe that becoming a Zombie is worse than becoming a Sparkly Vampire; this is the vilest of slanders. As for the rest, well, as we’ll see the author has actually seen or analyzed very few Zombie pop culture products, so don’t put too much stock in his notions of the rarity of empowered Zombie individuals.

6. They Have Become Fast — Because Our World Is Fast
Zombies, like LOLcats videos, have gone viral; and when things go viral, they move fast. As the themes of zombie films have shifted from Cold War worries about the slow chemical effects of radiological exposure (the source of zombie outbreaks in films like Night of the Living Dead) to terrorism-era fears about rapid bacteriological exposure (for example, in 28 Days Later or Resident Evil), the zombies have similarly accelerated. The more rapid our lives, communications, transportation and technology, the more quickly threats to them are experienced.

Wrong, wrong, wrong! I can’t begin to state how wrong this is.

Let’s start with the obvious; the Cold War, by most conceptual definitions, ends with the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. So ‘Fast Zombies’, being creatures of the current ‘terrorism-era’, must post-date them, right?

Wrong. The movie concept of ‘Fast Zombies’, at a bare minimum, dates to 1985 which saw the release of ‘Return of the Living Dead‘ and the Argento-Bava Euro-Zom flick ‘Demons‘, both of which feature fast, highly mobile Undead creatures whose contagion is spread principally by bite and who decay while seeking human victims.

Lolcats, meanwhile, while perhaps referencing previous ‘art’ forms, date in the modern sense to 2005-2006, 20-21 years after Return of the Living Dead.

The source of the Zombie outbreak in Night of the Living Dead is also never positively identified; it’s merely speculated that the ultimate cause might be radiation from a space probe.

Neither Resident Evil nor 28 Days Later deal with bacteriological attacks; in Resident Evil it’s a series of engineered viruses used for genetic modification; in 28 Days Later, the pandemic is the result of experiments on lab animals while researching aggression and is referred to as the rage ‘virus’.

Bonus factual error: in Resident Evil, the zombies are of the slow, Romero-esque variety.

So that’s 4-5 factual errors in one paragraph!

Extra errors: this article was supposedly produced in response to AMC’s The Walking Dead, which is a modern Zombie comic cum television franchise, as well as recent books ‘World War Z’ and ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’. All comtemporary, all definitely made in the ‘terrorism-era’.

Zombies, it seems, are everywhere these days — in popular books like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and World War Z, and in the new AMC show The Walking Dead, which had the New York Times declaring that “zombies are making a comeback.”

Each and every one of them features ‘Slow Zombies’. *groan*

#7 mutilates science:

7. Oh, Yes, Zombies Are Real
Scientists have discovered and manufactured bacteria, viruses and parasites that have zombie-inducing qualities. And stem cell and nanotechnology research offer real possibilities for the reanimation of tissue.

No. No, no, no.

Stem cells do not ‘reanimate’ tissue. Stem cells are alive, and have the potential to develop into many different forms of cells. They are not some magical elixir that can bring the dead back to life.

From Wikipedia:

The two broad types of mammalian stem cells are: embryonic stem cells that are isolated from the inner cell mass of blastocysts, and adult stem cells that are found in adult tissues. In a developing embryo, stem cells can differentiate into all of the specialized embryonic tissues. In adult organisms, stem cells and progenitor cells act as a repair system for the body, replenishing specialized cells, but also maintain the normal turnover of regenerative organs, such as blood, skin, or intestinal tissues.

(emphasis mine)

I repeat, not just for NPR but also for sloppy Anti-Zombie filmmakers: stem cells do not bring back dead tissue; they REPLACE it. This is very basic science.

#8 is just some pablum about how if you retreat enough from the real world into computers you’ve somehow become a Zombie. Boring! in the 60s, they said similar things about rock and roll. In the 70s it was drugs. In the 80s it was.. I dunno, Reagan probably said welfare made you into a Zombie at some point or other. It’s odd how every generation has some new trend that terrifies their parents, and yet civilization never comes to an end, huh?

Man. I think I lost IQ points just reading that, and we didn’t even get into the vicious Living Supremacism the entire thing is predicated upon, the debasing and dehumanization of the innocent Differently Animated citizen, striving to get by in a trying and difficult world.

So shame on you, NPR, and shame on you, Jeffrey Mantz. Shame.

About The Author

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


35 Responses to “NPR Tells You What You Don’t Need to Know About Zombies”

  1. Jeffrey Mantz says:

    Wow. You spent a lot of time trying to fuck up what I thought was a pretty benign summary of the literature on zombies (and btw, it wasn’t a “response” to anything). Your article contains some interesting points, but let me remind you that is considerable variation with respect to what constitutes a “zombie” around the world. I would hope that the Zombie Rights Campaign was inclusive of (and would advocate for) ALL zombies, not only those specific to American film. To be so discriminating would be very un-zombie-like.

  2. John Sears says:

    Mr. Mantz -

    While you may not have intended this piece to have been in ‘response’ to anything, the preface NPR attaches at the top clearly indicates that they published it in response to The Walking Dead, amongst other recent American zombie works.

    Secondly, if you were concerned with what constitutes Zombies around the world, why didn’t you mention more specific and generally unfamiliar examples yourself? Vague generalities about ‘ghouls’ and vengeful spirits don’t help the reader learn anything or improve their body of knowledge.

    Third, your point about us representing more Zombies than those defamed in American film is an interesting one, since you yourself focus almost exclusively upon said films, declaring that, amongst other things: “These days, zombies are basically understood to be ghouls who consume the living.” (A concept created within, and popularized by, American cinema. Also; understood by whom?)

    Since that is (according to yourself) your primary working definition of a ‘Zombie’, that is the slander we had to work hardest against. In the past we have worked on behalf of many other varieties of Zombie, and have made a special focus in the past year on those poor souls abused by the Sino-American murder simulator industry (aka videogames).

    In fact, it would seem to be yourself who is myopically fixated on the American pop cultural definition of Zombies, since all of your examples have been prominent fixtures in American pop culture, and all but two (Resident Evil and 28 Days Later) originated from America or the Carribean. (For that matter, only the Resident Evil videogames are Japanese, and even then not all of them, if the rumors about Slant Six of Canada’s work on a spinoff are to be believed. Meanwhile, the live action movies are thoroughly American trash and the novels were written here too).

    Finally, arguments about the proper focus of our civil rights lobby aside (which are somewhat rich coming from someone who paints the entire Differently Animated community with such broad and negative brushstrokes), your piece is still riddled with numerous factual errors we pointed out in our response, some of which are obvious to the point of being bizarre (Resident Evil supposedly featuring fast zombies), and some of which speak to a lack of familiarity with the subject matter entirely (the notion that ‘fast’ Zombies are a response to terrorism or the post-Cold War Era, which ignores seminal works from around the world that predate the end of the cold war).

    I still don’t have a clue what lolcats have to do with any of this, by the way.

    I’ll give you credit for being wrong about stem cells in precisely the same manner as cutting edge independent anti-Zombie film, however; given the way these things percolate into the mainstream, in a few years big budget horror movies will be making the same mistakes, putting you ahead of the curve overall (though the ZRC first saw this error several years ago).

    In closing, the very fact that you see a summary describing the entire DA community as ghouls and monsters as ‘pretty benign’ speaks volumes. The ZRC’s response may have been terse and sarcastic, but it was not in any substantive way incorrect, and attempted to address the falsehoods and revisionist history you peddled to such a wide audience. We do not feel the least bit sorry for defending the targets of such an attack with our customary vigor.

  3. Jeffrey Mantz says:

    I’m sure you are familiar with this fact, but your readers may not be: writers seldom have any additional control over their work once we submit it to a news outlet like NPR. So whatever context in which they situate the discussion is their business. I’ll take responsibility for everything I wrote (there were moderate changes to my language, but it’s representative), but only NPR can answer why they would have contextualized it as a “response” to The Walking Dead. At the time I wrote it (I submitted it on 10/30), the first episode of The Walking Dead had not yet been aired. And I don’t think NPR was referring to the public’s reaction to the graphic novel.

    As for the brevity of the points on zombies across cultures (e.g. the omission of more unfamiliar examples from around the world): actually, I would have liked very much to have more included. In my interview with NPR I discussed many (the interview was about an hour, plus they came to a 3 hour long class); All Things Considered blocked out all of 5-6 minutes of their broadcast to address this very important subject; corners obviously had to be cut. As an anthropologist, the bulk of my time is actually not spent discussing film (though it appears for you it is; that’s a compliment, a slightly damning one I admit, but a compliment nonetheless), but rather on analyzing the myriad folkloric contexts within which zombies manifest. So on this point, I am quite sympathetic to your community. I accept that there remains much work to be done.

    As for the points about my “working definition” of the term “zombie”, let’s take a look at the phrase you have honed in on more closely: “These days, zombies are basically understood to be ghouls who consume the living.” Perhaps this is an issue of syntax, but I don’t see how my identification of a perception in American culture would constitute a “working definition”. That is indeed the wide perception (as you yourself should know well) with which the vast majority of Americans are vested. Is it accurate? Of course not. It’s not even true in American cinema. The rest of that bullet point goes on to describe (admittedly in all too cursory a manner) how contemporary representations have reduced zombies in such a manner. But you should be able to infer from the rest of the piece a profound sense of appreciation for the different manifestations zombies have taken across space and time. Nowhere did I identify that perception as my own, any more than an observer defining the American perception of marriage as a permanent union between individuals would somehow in such a claim be implicitly denying the reality that there is nothing permanent about it: more than half of human marriages in the U.S. end in divorce.

    It’s in fact you that has articulated a much more limited definition of zombies. As you said in your original response to my point about stem cells and nanotechnology, “[stem cells] are not some magical elixir that can bring the dead back to life.” So here you are casting zombies narrowly as returned dead, in the process excluding several important alternatives (philosophical zombies and arguably Caribbean zombi and their reinterpretations come to mind immediately).

    The discussion relating to the relationship between zombies and the cold war, terrorism, etc. was heavily truncated for NPR. Indeed the cold war ends by 1991, but the phenomena associated with the growing of digital technologies and hypermobility (e.g. the acceleration of financial transactions, revolutions in computing and telecommunication) go back to the 1970s, even earlier. The 2000s features indeed a different set of concerns. My point was to suggest that representations of zombies by human filmmakers and writers reflect anxieties of the particular time period. That’s not exactly a startling claim. Jung said the same thing about aliens back in the 1950s.

    The factual errors about how I carelessly characterized viral or other outbreaks as “bacteriological” you are right about. To paraphrase one famous ethnographer, anthropologists have never really believed in the germ theory of disease. So fine; it’s not my area; I chose a career that had a greater appreciation for the supernatural. But if you want to hang with a crowd that disputes whether or not your very existence is even possible, I guess I can appreciate the irony.

    Lastly, with regard to your aspersions about the “revisionist history” that I “peddled to such a wide audience.” “Wide audience”, really? You do realize this is NPR we are talking about, and not FOX News, right?

    You know, for a zombie, your bark sure is louder than your bite. Oh oh. Did I go too far?

  4. John Sears says:

    Mr. Mantz -

    I think it’s fairly obvious why NPR framed it as a response to The Walking Dead (along with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and other works), and you’re being more than a bit coy by acting as if you don’t realize that Zombies, or to be more precise, the cultural stereotypes of Zombiedom, are entering the mainstream in a big way over this last year.

    Your backhanded references to our work reviewing film entirely miss the point; with the exception of Resident Evil (which you mischaracterize), your words, however heavily edited, focus almost entirely on film-derived Anti-Zombie prejudices, whether of the earlier so-called ‘Voodoo’ Zombie variety or the modern Romero-Russo line. Thus, we responded in kind. If you had written about perceptions of the Differently Animated in, say, Lovecraftian fiction, we’d have been discussing The Thing on the Doorstep and Herbert West instead, and you’d no doubt be accusing us of reading too much pulp horror.

    Third, I find this repeated refrain of hiding behind your editor tiresome. If these words don’t reflect your own beliefs and/or you object to the formatting of said expression of your beliefs, you are free to retract them or ask for the removal of your name from the work. Since you haven’t done so, to our knowledge, you have no business using editorial constraints as a defense in this fashion.

    The manner in which you deal with factual criticism is particularly unbecoming for an academic allegedly studying such a vulnerable population. In the case of some facts gotten wrong, you try to reframe the issue as being about your interlocutor; for example, on stem cells, where you try to put the focus on the ZRC. Why did I discuss stem cells and Zombies in the context of reanimating corpses? Perhaps it had something to do with this line:

    “And stem cell and nanotechnology research offer real possibilities for the reanimation of tissue.”

    Or perhaps it’s because the hottest plot device used in the independent horror world for the creation of Zombies in fictional settings of late has been stem cells, as in recent feature ‘The Prometheus Project’; a rival school of thought is pushing spores (The Littlest Zombie, George’s Intervention) but in some cases Spore-related Zombies are portrayed more even-handedly. Regardless, outside of film, we at the ZRC are unaware of a major stem cell-zombie nexus, and so, again, we addressed a film-centric concern in the language of film.

    Other factual errors are dismissed as unimportant, such as the nature of bacteriological Zombiism, or ignored entirely, like the relative ‘speed’ of Zombies in selected works.

    One key point, that your entire thesis that Zombies are increasing in speed to match our hectic modern day lives is patently *false*, is never addressed. To wit, sir: the most popular recent Anti-Zombie works in prose (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, World War Z, the Monster Planet trilogy by Wellington), in comics and television (Walking Dead), in videogames (Resident Evil 1, 2, 3, Code Veronica, Dead Rising et al) and even in Zombie play-acting (Zombie Walks) all feature the so-called ‘slow Zombie’. (the debate between fast and slow Zombies is itself an American phenomenon; in Europe and Oceania, there was never a terribly sharp divide to begin with)

    If your analysis had merit, we would expect to see ever fewer ‘slow Zombies’ as time goes by, yet precisely the opposite is true; in the last decade, ‘slow Zombies’ have dominated the public consciousness, with the notable exception of Danny Boyle’s work and a few others.

    Your attempt to backdate the ‘fast Zombie’ (a term we grudgingly agree to use only in the context of genre discussion as we believe in a Zombie’s freedom to choose their own mobility speed) to the 70s is self-serving, but even if that had been the original argument, it’s still flawed, in that the early progenitors of the ‘fast Zombie’ archetype were not allegories about social or technological issues, ala Romero’s odious work. Return of the Living Dead is usually credited with bringing the ‘fast Zombie’ stereotype to global horror consciousness, but other than co-opting the punk aesthetic it’s hard to ascribe any social commentary to the film whatsoever. Most likely the best explanation for the appearance of ‘fast Zombies’ is the simplest, that of a genre-specific innovation arms race. Faster = scarier, or so it was believed, so to stand out, ‘fast Zombies’ were employed. (Since John Russo in particular had a pressing need to differentiate himself from Night of the Living Dead, simple competitiveness may also have played a role).

    Finally, if you have such grave concerns about the audience share of NPR, you’re again welcome not to work with them. We here at the ZRC try to be far more gracious and appreciative of those who give us a platform to converse about the Differently Animated, and would be more than happy to talk to a major national news outlet about them, just as we have been happy to conduct other interviews in the past.

    PS: I am not myself Differently Animated, nor have I ever claimed to be. I merely, and humbly, work for a civil rights lobby that labors on their behalf. Your crude ad hominem attack in closing your response thus misses the mark due to fallacious assumption, which is getting to be a theme of this discussion. Bonus points: the ‘Zombie bite’ idea is, once again, derived from the Amerocentric films that you claim *we* are unduly fixated upon here at the ZRC.

  5. Jeffrey Mantz says:

    Yo mama is a zombie.

  6. Paul Miller says:

    Frankly, your entire assessment of Mr. Mantz’s wide-spread ‘misinformation’ spawns from a short-sighted and severely truncated interview. Frankly, it’s damn funny how you believe Mr. Mantz has failed the “differently animated” community by not insisting an entire semesters’ worth of study be placed within a 1-page article, obviously designed to be humorous in nature. Prior to these lectures, I had no idea how far the zombified hand reached, nor the complexity behind some of their implicit roles within tribalistic and contemporary society. Hell, it goes far beyond that, but I have to go be productive in 20 minutes.

    You should consider attending a class or two, assuming there will be future reiterations of it. You may start sounding much less of an ass if you researched Mr. Mantz’s subject-matter beyond an interview following NPR’s agenda settings. To assume that the only cinematography we’ve covered is limited to the contemporary (28 Days / Weeks later, Resident Evil, Dead Snow, etc) is pretty arrogant. I’d love to see your responses on the reading material, given your objections so far.

    And now, finals.

  7. John Sears says:

    Mr. Mantz – My mother is not a Zombie, though if she were, she’d still be my mother, so I fail to see the relevance.

  8. John Sears says:

    Mr. Miller -

    The ZRC’s objections to the NPR piece stemmed not from its length but from the many factual errors and fallacious assertions contained within, several of which your instructor has admitted to in this very thread, so it is completely inaccurate to suggest that there was no legitimate ground for criticism.

    Your own reading comprehension seems to be somewhat in doubt, since I have never discussed the content of the class you are apparently taking; the ZRC’s criticism was confined solely to the material available to us, namely, the widely disseminated NPR article. In the space of 1 page it contains a stark Amero-centric approach, makes broad assertions about the perceptions of Zombies in popular culture that are either parochial or blatantly untrue, lists numerous items as ‘facts’ which are false and has several noteworthy errors in both timeline and trivia. Again, much of this was copped to, if dismissed as irrelevant, by Mr. Mantz.

    I wouldn’t mind seeing the reading material for the course myself, but that offer was never made to the Zombie Rights Campaign, so attempting to hold us blameworthy for being unaware of the content is strange to say the least. I have no immediate plans to relocate cross-country and attend a different institution of higher learning merely to evaluate one course on Zombies; I sincerely doubt that GMU is the only university offering such coursework at the present time, for that matter.

    Also, it’s a bit of a stretch to refer to Resident Evil as a contemporary phenomenon, since the original title is from 1996, and was a remake of a much older Famicom game named Sweet Home from 1989 (which didn’t contain Zombies as a matter of fact). If you’re talking about the movies, then the first one came out 8 years ago in 2002, as did 28 days Later. 28 Weeks Later is a crass remake without the original auteur at the helm; we’ve seen it, but it’s hardly worth discussing, in the context of Zombie Rights or anywhere else.

    If you want a list of truly contemporary Anti-Zombie films you could peruse our reviews from the last few months of Zombie film from around the world, including Closure (Israeli), Cabine of the Dead (French), Rise of the Living Corpse (Canadian) and so forth. Survival of the Dead is George Romero’s most recent work and only 1 year old, as is the excellent independent Zombie film ‘George’s Intervention’.

    I never mentioned Dead Snow. I’m not sure where you get that from. It is an interesting choice and the only truly ‘contemporary’ Anti-Zombie film you mention, but is also a direct descendent of the much older Nazi Zombie sub-genre,
    and so could be seen as an update rather than a truly original concept. (For a broader view of this sub-genre you might see Zombie Lake or Hard Rock Zombies. Nazi-Zombies were big in the 80s.)

    Good luck with your finals. Don’t spend too much time defending your instructors that could be put to better use studying.

  9. Paul Miller says:

    Mr Sears,

    First off, I challenge you to use this “internet” at your disposal and email Mantz for the list of readings. The brilliant thing behind research is its reliance on effort; if you’re genuinely intrigued by the reading material provided, then why don’t you revert back to college days and do as the students do? There’s no reason a practically unknown pro-zombie cell should take itself so seriously that asking for an easily attainable list is out of the question, and must instead be provided to them, as if you have the fame to merit such due diligence.

    Second, the ZCR is criticizing what is months of subject matter for being largely false, and rightfully so. NPR did not care to educate the masses Mr. Sears, but rather give a very generalized and simplified idea of several different facets behind zombi(e)/i culture. I’d be shocked if there *weren’t* errors in the logic; there isn’t enough space in NPR’s article to truly edify their readers. This is where the research thing I mentioned would have been helpful in forming your opinion: you’d quickly realize that NPR’s article is guided entirely on framing and agenda setting to entertain their target audience. This is media101, you should know better.

    Third. It is by no means a stretch to consider Resident Evil a contemporary phenomenon. Sure, you can trace its genealogy to ’89, however the latest film did come out last April. Cool list of movies though, I’ll be sure to watch them!

    Fourth. Where you didn’t mention Dead Snow, it’s not all about you chief. =P

    As for supposedly defending my instructor over studying, I feel you’ve confused my intentions as a student. I couldn’t care less if Mr. Mantz were a D.C. bum or the President, random attacks and criticisms without knowing more than what’s presented at face value should never be left unchecked. From your original post, it doesn’t look like you made any effort to contact Mr. Mantz until after you bashed everything with excessive force. Your original post isn’t just a statement claiming falsehoods (which, like I said before, was rightly done), but feels like a personal attack. How is that necessary?

    Aced my finals. Hoorah!

  10. John Sears says:

    Mr. Miller -

    The ZRC was contacted in this matter initially by Mr. Mantz, not the other way around; we have not demanded any materials from him, nor has he offered them to us. Using the internet, as you might have done yourself, we have a publicly available email address to which inquiries and materials can be forwarded, on our About page. We are also on Facebook, Myspace and Twitter, so it’s not hard to get ahold of the ZRC. We will even provide our groups’ mailing address to genuinely interested correspondents for those occasions when only hard copies will do.

    For that matter, we are not a ‘practically unknown’ pro-Zombie ‘cell’. We are actually fairly well known in the horror community, have had meaningful dialogues with numerous authors, filmmakers and actors, and held some modestly successful charity fundraisers as well. The ZRC is a civil rights lobby, not some group huddled in a basement somewhere, plotting and scheming. We do not aspire to fame, nor would having fame earn us ‘due diligence’.

    Your defenses of the NPR piece are as facetious as Mr. Mantz’s. The fact is, whatever ‘framing’ or editing was done, his name and credentials are attached, and so the errors are also his responsibility. If he wishes to retract the piece, he is welcome to do so. If he objects to misinformation presented there under his name, he should say so. Thus far, he has not.

    Third, as to Resident Evil being a contemporary phenomenon: debatable. The movies have little to do with the original game, having been outsourced to Paul W.S. Anderson a long time ago, and serving as little more than a star vehicle for his wife. A distinction needs to be made between some C-list films and the premiere Anti-Zombie videogame metaseries in the world (having sold some 40 million copies).

    Resident Evil was the originator of the modern ‘survival horror’ genre, in addition to its enormous critical and commercial success, and ensured the ascendancy of the Playstation platform (as much as any other release). It transformed Capcom into a publishing powerhouse dedicated almost solely to violence against the Undead, and led to, amongst other things, the Dead Rising phenomenon, which has become almost as large as Resident Evil (and led to a famous lawsuit with the rightsholders for Dawn of the Dead).

    So if you mean ‘Resident Evil’ as in the brand, sure, there is a continuing influence, in lousy movies and racially charged modern games. If you mean the actual, original work that literally goes by that title: nah. It hasn’t been re-released in years, and the remake for the Gamecube was a flop.

    As for contacting Mr. Mantz on NPR, if I was inclined to contact anyone it would have been the NPR ombudsman. The fact is, if you’re not aware, Halloween is the really, really *busy* season for Zombie Rights activists. We had engagements in three states and traveled literally thousands of miles in late October-early November, attending film festivals and events and trying to educate the public. I was content to put up the piece and let it speak for itself. I would have made corrections or retractions… had any been necessary. So far, except for disliking my tone, no one has presented me with anything to change.

    Is a personal attack necessary? This question, asked in a defense of a piece that characterizes our client base as ‘ghouls who consume the living’? Please. When I write a post for a major news organization alleging that GMU faculty rip the limbs off students and eat them, get back to me.

    Congratulations on your finals.

  11. Seth Dotson says:

    Mr. Sears-
    You quoted wikipedia. In my opinion this invalidates any rebuttal you make in response to Dr. Mantz. Also your momma is in fact a zombie.

  12. Oh snap, you showed us! I guess we’ll just go away forever now. You guys win the Internet apparently.

    Of course, if more of you want to dogpile on and prove… I’m not sure what, or to whom… well, technically we can’t prevent you from doing so short of shutting down the blog comment system, and I don’t really feel like poking around the wordpress install to even figure out how I’d do that. But please understand that the more silly, kneejerk “ZOMG YOU SAID MEAN THINGS ABOUT SOMETHING WHICH IS RELEVANT TO MY INTERESTS AND THAT CANNOT GO UNCHALLENGED”, and ad hominem you get, the more it amuses and delights me. I guess that means I win too!

    Anyone who wants to provide a thoughtful/constructively-critical response, of course, can ignore the snark above. We can disagree and still have a useful conversation, and all that.

  13. Paul Miller says:

    Jenny -

    C’mon now, no need to be snippy. However Seth makes a solid point; universities across the nation denounce Wikipedia as a legitimate source toward any statement made. The information is typically, if not always, faulty / false. Mr. Sear’s comments are well thought-out and eloquently put, despite how ‘dogpiled’ they are: why slander them with Wikipedia? I wouldn’t expect this criticism to stop – finals have finally started simmering down and students are becoming aware of this thread.

    If you’re going to criticize, always be ready for the retort. Yeah, you *did* criticize that of which lies within my interests, however you know not with what you meddle! .. ish.

    I hope intelligent and civil discourse can be achieved here, instead of nit-picking with excessive detail.

    For future reference, the basis of framing theory is that the media focuses attention on certain events and then places them within a field of meaning. Agenda-setting is the creation of public awareness and concern of salient issues via the news media.

    P.S. – The original genesis of survival horror, has and forever shall be, Silent Hill. However, I don’t see Silent Hill or Resident Evil holding a candle to Final Fantasy in terms of PS1 ascension.

    P.P.S. – Xenogears rocks. And I can finally sleep for the first time in two days. YES.

  14. John Sears says:

    I’m really not seeing the legitimacy of the Wikipedia criticism here. I used it for a source on Lolcats, which I doubt has received much in the way of, err, academic attention in print (could be wrong), and as a general topic source for an easy to understand summary of stem cells.

    Is the information on either of those incorrect? I can pull lots of stuff on stem cells from elsewhere if I need to substantiate my point (which happens to be the truth): stem cells, being conventionally living tissue themselves, do not reanimate the dead, or even dead tissue (in a Zombielike fashion at least). They replace damaged cells the same way you can replace a part on your car; it doesn’t make your car a Zombie.

    Further, of course, all human beings have a wide variety of stem cells in their bodies, doing precisely that work, every day. You don’t turn into a Zombie because of it.

    And in addition, of course, though most people don’t frame it this way mentally, a bone marrow transplant is the application of foreign stem cells to a living patient (who also does not become a Zombie).

    As for the Lolcats thing, well, it’s mostly a throwaway line to humorously undercut the assertion (which has since been partially retracted) that ‘fast’ Zombies are a response to post-Cold War concerns.

    Silent Hill post-dates Resident Evil by 3 years, and Resident Evil’s predecessor game Sweet Home by 10, so it can’t originate the genre, sorry.

    As for Playstation ascendancy, (note I said Playstation, not PS1), I think the RE series definitely rivals Final Fantasy since just the original main series Resident Evil titles on the PS1 and PS2 combined have sold about 13 million copies.

    That’s obviously not counting secondary items like the light gun games and Outbreak series (which, to be fair, almost nobody cares about), remakes and special editions, which usually sold a lot less.

    Fun fact: according to Capcom they have made a staggering 63 Resident Evil titles.

    I also don’t see what framing theory has to do with facts. If something factually untrue appears with my name on it, I’d want it retracted, period. If I couldn’t get it fixed, I’d disavow it.

  15. John Sears says:

    Oh yeah, and I’m not the least bit concerned about student interest in this post and additional comments.

    The ZRC put up with much worse than you lot when we critiqued Mega 64, believe me. Just be aware that comments on our articles close after.. two weeks I think it is, as an anti-spam/relevance-increasing measure. It’s a standard feature that applies to all and sundry.

  16. > C’mon now, no need to be snippy.

    But… but isn’t that what the Internet is for? That and “yo mama” jokes, apparently.

  17. Jeb B says:

    Ah another interesting article John! You have seemed to have trolled several people with this one. Though I am not sure why you are so upset over fictional creatures.

  18. John Sears says:

    Jeb, are you trying to say that GMU students and faculty are ‘fictional creatures’?

    If so, my hat’s off to whoever came up with this elaborate hoax. I’ll admit, it looked like a real institution of learning to me, and the web forgeries would qualify as fantastic.

  19. Jeb B says:

    Zombies. Zombies are not real.

  20. Jason Galambos says:

    Dear Mr. Sears,

    You talk too much.

    It’s obvious that you are a pretty intelligent individual and that you have created this entire community as some kind of perverse joke, but the fact that you have pulled the wool over a fair number of people’s eyes (including, if I remember correctly, several charity organizations?) genuinely concerns me.

    Shame on you. You have taken this joke too far. I hope you can find it in your conscience to retract your support of this community before it becomes completely out of hand.

  21. Probably Not John Forbes Kerry says:

    Dear Mr. Sears,

    Many people, even in America, don’t know where their next meal is going to come from.
    Are you certain that fictional beings deserve charity?
    Zombies are not real. The poor are.


    JJS: You guys are aware we see your IP addresses, right? I don’t think John Kerry lives in the GMU residence halls. I don’t take moral criticism seriously from anonymous cowards who pose as public figures to try and get their ‘point’ across. We don’t require that you post comments under your real name here at the ZRC, but impersonating other people is just rude.

  22. John Sears says:

    Mr. Galambos:

    The Zombie Rights Campaign has not deceived anyone, let alone any charities. We have conducted some small fundraisers for other charities and donated the proceeds to them. We never asked for, or received, an endorsement from any of them, though the Lynn Sage people sent us a very kind thank you letter. They were well aware of how and when we raised the funds for them; I explained it all alongside our check.

    We have another check about ready to go out to them this month, and I have no doubt that it wll be cheerfully cashed and put toward the very good work they do.

    The ZRC has always been completely forthright and upfront about our mission, and the work we do is all well-documented up here on the web. We pay our taxes, fill out all the right paperwork, keep our receipts and comply with all the relevant laws.

    We’re not about to ‘retract’ our support for the Differently Animated. If it bothers you so much I sincerely suggest you take a deep breath and close your browser window, because we’re not going *anywhere*.

  23. Jason Galambos says:

    Pathetic. I didn’t think you’d man up.

  24. Genuine curiosity: what would be required to “man up” in this case? (ETA: Also curious in re supposed deceiving of charities. If anything on this blog or the main ZRC website did appear to in any way suggest that we were seeking or receiving endorsements from any charity, let us know and we’ll correct it, ’cause that would be incorrect. Otherwise, I’m stumped.)

  25. John Sears says:

    Man up means ‘do whatever Jason Galambos wants, accept lies as truth, false accusations as gospel, and don’t say or do anything that offends him for he is the supreme arbiter of taste’.


    The most pathetic thing I’ve found about this whole ‘conversation’ to date would seem to be GMU’s admission standards. Ye gods. Either we’ve got some odd self-selection bias going on here or they really must issue one rod up each butt upon enrollment.

  26. Response to the esteeméd Mr. Sears: Well, maybe that’s what it means, or maybe Galambos has a different take on it. Seriously dude, if you’re still on here, I still want to know what you meant! My comments on here always switch between ubersnark and total sincerity, but right now I’m completely on the side of the latter.

    Response to Jeb B: is that a question, or…? (okay now I’m being snarky a bit)

  27. Ian Tewksbury says:

    I really don’t see what the problem with rights for zombies is!!
    It doesn’t matter how you’re animated, guys.

    John, I’m also a Mason student, but I’m 100% behind your cause!
    At least some of us have brains…

  28. John Sears says:

    Thanks Ian! Glad to hear there’s some support for the much put-upon Green Man (or Grey, or Blue-Grey) on your campus.

    I was probably a bit testy earlier, but it really does irritate me when someone accuses the ZRC of deceiving a charity. That’s low, and also completely untrue. We consider ourselves less a charity than an advocacy organization, but we enjoy helping out other worthy causes in whatever small way we can, and the ZRC thinks that the one of the best ways in which we can fight the Zombie stereotypes is to show Zombies and their friends doing good work.

  29. Ian Tewksbury says:

    Where are some good places to meet up with Zombies and other advocates?
    I’d really like to volunteer and do whatever I can!

    Also, quite a neat Snow Zombie you’ve made :D
    Is it anatomically correct, to the best of your knowledge?

  30. John Sears says:

    Honestly, I don’t know a lot about good groups to work with and meet up on the East Coast. Generally there are a ton of Zombie Walks these days, and while the ZRC was initially wary of events that encourage people to dress up as Zombies, we’ve been pleasantly surprised at quite a few of them we’ve attended. You can meet a lot of cool people at those, along with, of course, those retrograde types who mock Zombies.

    Alternately, there are some really neat societies/social groups around the country that host movies and hold events, I’d wager there’s something like Chicago’s Horror Society in your general area. The Horror Society has started up a shiny new forum/networking system for horror themed things in general that I need to sign the ZRC up for, and it looks to be a bit more national in scale, so that could point to some leads too.

    Again, sorry not to be of more concrete help; we’re working to expand and network beyond the Midwest but it goes so slow sometimes.

    As for the Zombie Snowman… hah. Well, the materials are a real challenge. It’s just so cold and dry the snow won’t clump. I won’t say it doesn’t resemble some Zombie out there, somewhere, but if so he/she is being held together with a core of ice and desperate hope at best, so i feel for them.

  31. Ian Tewksbury says:

    That’s really cool stuff- Thanks a million!
    It’s great to know that I’m not alone, and that people across the country are ready to stand up for justice~

    Some of my intolerant acquaintances say I’m just jumping on a band-wagon, but even if I am, I guess it’s okay because I can’t get enough of live music and one of the highlights of my childhood was a Halloween hay wagon ride!

    All the best to our Brothers and Sisters in Arms:
    “May the road rise to meet you, and May you find caring shelter from the cold snow!”

  32. Anonymous Student G! says:

    Have to say, as a student in Mr. Mantz’s class, this was by far the most entertaining thing he’s sent me over email. Cheers to the counter arguments from Mantz and fellow students who received the email, but I agree with you wholeheartedly Mr. Sears, your points of criticism were valid and well observed. Really enjoy your site, So now you now have a new reader. :D

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