Zombies walk among us, causing the scientific community to ponder what societal movements are indicated by the observed empirical data, or, as the young people would say, “what is up with the Zombies?”. There are new zombie movies in the theaters, prank references to zombie invasions appear in our cities, zombie books are on the shelves, zombie bloggers proliferate and zombies music blares from our iMusic devices.
Pop culture is often a harbinger of major econopolitical transformation. Just as the rise and fall of hemlines and the ebb and flow of feminine hygiene advertising have always had a inverse relationship with stock market indices, so too has fascination with the undead correlated with a promise of peace, prosperity and better days ahead.
To establish the baseline parameters, we first define “the undead”. Although the scientific literature refers to both vampires and zombies as “undead”, vampires do not portend sociologic transformation. Vampires are merely a manifestation of repressed adolescent female sexual desire and, thus, it’s really hot and all that, but we’re talking about zombie undead, which is substantial hardcore mental stuff of higher magnitude.
The earliest known observation of the correlation occurred in 1938. At that time the United States and the world were in the depths of the Great Depression and, in Europe, millions were victims of genocide. In that year, the movie, “White Zombie” premiered. Not long after, FDR was able to instigate the entry of the U.S. into an economically beneficial World War, which coincidentally ended persecution of Jews and other religious groups.
Such prosperity ensued that it took three decades before we saw the next societal trending shift associated with pop culture zombies. In 1968, the United States and some countries in South East Asia were in the depths of the so-called “Viet Nam War”. There was rampant inflation. Young people called “hippies” and groups of African Americans were disrupting the harmony of our cities. In that year, George Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead” premiered. Subsequently, Richard Nixon was elected and unveiled his secret plan that brought about a swift and orderly end to the conflict in Viet Nam. Police in Chicago, Detroit and other cities turned back lawlessness in the streets, bringing racial harmony and Motown music.
September 11, 2001, terrorists attacked the United States. In 2002 the movie “28 Days Later” debuted. Some researchers argue that this was not technically a zombie movie. They are technically dorks. It was at that time, right after zombies devoured London in "28 Days..." that President Bush began the war on terror that soon ended with his mission accomplished and protected the American people and our economy right up until 2008.
Seventy years after “White Zombie” we are now in the depths of a Great Recession and two wars. In the past year, street signs have popped up, warning of zombie invasions. Now, a movie that looks really cool and we are really stoked about, called “Zombieland” is coming out. The reappearance of zombie pop culture bodes well for our future.
Based on the historical data from previous zombie cycles, we can extrapolate the factors of economosociopolitical prognostaforcastation and estimate that within a few years, our economy will be flourishing and Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and Iran will all be stable democracies. And Jon and Kate Gosselin will have their teeny tiny brains devoured and their flesh pulled from their bones and their children turned over to social services. And the world will be at peace. You just wait.