Monday, May 7, 2012

The Zombie Apocalypse is the Best Case Scenario

Yet again, Hollywood has gotten it all wrong.  There is now an entire cinematic genre based on a complete misconception:  A "Zombie Apocalypse" is not a worst-case scenario. In fact as far as Apocalypses go, it should be considered the Best Case Scenario.

Let me explain, but first let’s make it clear that we’re talking about actual ZOMBIES.  The walking, brain-hungry, contagious corpses. For the purposes of this discussion they could, however, be either the traditional “slow shuffling” or the new Mark II “sprinting” zombies – that aspect doesn’t matter.

There is a certain strategic moral clarity involved when fighting the “undead” that you don’t get when combating other types of eldritch creatures.  For example, it is always emotionally painful to kill a werewolf because you know that when the lycanthropic fit has passed, or when they approach room temperature, they will go back to being the local grocer, the kid down the block, or your girlfriend, so as difficult as such activities may be, trapping, caging, and quarantining are almost always better options.

Even if you add vampires into the mix, so that “hiding” becomes the only available course of action, given enough garlic, silver, and bright lights (and here I need to ask you to try not to think about skyrocketing grocery produce and metal prices, or of the plan to ban incandescent bulbs, and just make an effort to focus on the narrative) you can usually render yourself secure against the creatures of the night.

But with zombies you have no such concerns.  If zombies are on the loose, and you find yourself at a decent vantage point with a high-powered rifle, not even the preachiest starch-collared moralist will look down their nose at you for engaging in some much-needed target practice.  If you’ve got some buddies around, you could even make a game of it, and in fact that’s so obvious that it is a recurring cinematic meme often used for entertaining and action-packed screen-filler before the required 60-minute plot-twist mark is reached.  But even though they spend millions of dollars filming such scenes, and seem to have a great time doing so, they still miss the big liberating point: In no other type of Apocalypse can you do that!

What They Would Label The Act of Randomly Shooting Approaching Entities, by Apocalypse Type:
Type of Apocalypse Label
Obamacare Death Panel Appointee Infestation Murder, with fierce debate over whether "justified" or not, depending on the State in which it occurred.
Tyrannical Government Instituting Stalinistic Measures Other Than Obamacare Murder - most likely followed quickly with "Suicide by Cop". 
Biker Gang Either Homicide, Manslaughter, or Self-Defense, depending on the prosecutor. Not that it matters, since - like most of the "good-guys-who-aren't-Mel-Gibson" characters in "Road Warrior" - you probably won't be alive for there to be a trial.
Invading Foreign Military Short-lived Foolishness 
Robot/Terminator Short-lived Foolishness.  Resisting our robotic overlords by other means is fine, and in fact required, but just randomly plinking away at them from on high is a useless waste of ammunition and doesn't take into consideration their ubiquitous close air support or ability to triangulate both echoes and ballistic paths within microseconds. A better option would be to locate and reprogram Summer Glau.
Space Alien Short-lived Foolishness, because this is essentially "Invading Foreign Military" with technology and armor that likely surpasses the robots.
Mutant Intelligent Ape Yay! Oh I mean, uh, Short-lived Foolishness. It has been pointed out that, excepting an Obamacare scenario, a line needs to be drawn between an "Infestation" and an "Apocalypse".  In an infestation such an act would be viewed more along the lines of shooting Zombies in terms of general appreciation by your fellow humans.  But given that the adjective "Intelligent" is in the name for a reason, in an Apocalyptic scenario they would essentially be indistinguishable from an Invading Foreign Military, except for the delightful smell.
Lycanthropic Murder - and rather difficult to explain to skeptical police come the dawn.
However, it does leave the door open for an insanity plea.
Rage Virus Depending on whether the government has or hasn't fallen, and if still extant then whether or not it is working on developing a treatment, this could range anywhere from Self-Defense to Murder.

In an Interregnum they should be considered akin to smart, fast, strong, cooperative, vengeful, rabid, and extremely angry Zombies with a chip on their collective shoulders against all of Creation. 

Engaging them simply for target practice would be Foolishness, although its duration (short-lived versus prolonged) would likely be determined on a per-mêlée basis.
Reaver Unless you just happen to be Summer Glau, this is Short-lived Foolishness,
and Not At All Shiny.

Behaviorally, Reavers can be considered akin to "Lycanthropes without an off switch", or  "Rage Virus Patients in Space" who have retained both their mechanical skills and ability to strategize.

People encountering Reavers can expect to be raped to death, have their flesh eaten, and their skin sewn into the Reavers’ clothing, and according to reliable sources if someone is very lucky they'll do it in that order. 

Given Reavers' preference for "hit and run" tactics, both hiding and fleeing have proven to be very successful survival strategies, thus the label "Short-lived Foolishness" is deserved.
Demonic Even Shorter-lived Foolishness
Angelic The Shortest-lived Foolishness, as well as The Stupidest and Most Vain Activity Imaginable
Zombie Fun and Productive!
Engenders bountiful praise from, and increases potential mating opportunities with, fellow survivors.

Lest one forget:

  • There are no Zombie policemen, National Guardsmen, or Soldiers.
  • There are no Zombie suicide bombers.
    Bonus question: If there were, could you still call them “suicide” bombers?  Really? Explain.
  • Zombies don’t lead Personality Cults.
  • There will be no elections between living and Zombie candidates where the living ones squabble so much they split their base and end up getting the Zombie elected.
  • A significant percentage of the population will not be persuaded that “even though they’re not really in favor of them”, the Zombie’s policies and agenda are tolerable “for the duration of the crisis”.
  • Although they’re certainly hungry, Zombies do not confiscate, much less redistribute, food.
  • None of your neighbors will be co-opted into a secret police looking to rat you out to the Zombies.
  • Zombies do not create websites with creepy slide shows extolling the virtues of living under their rule.
  • Zombies don’t gather and maintain databases of your personal, commercial, or medical information.
  • Zombies, ironically, don’t impose gun-control laws.
  • Under no circumstance would Zombies ever be put in charge of the Fed, although now that I think about it, that’s kind of sad because it would HAVE to be an improvement, and besides – no Zombie is either stupid or evil enough to ever try to monetize the national debt.  I guess nothing’s perfect.
CLEARLY, if you’re going to have an Apocalypse, and you have a choice, choose “Zombie”!


  1. Great post. But your premise is that what makes it the best case scenario is that you can shoot at them without any dire consequences. What if you favor face punching instead? Wouldn't a hippie Apocalypse be better in that case? I mean, face-punching zombies would be short-lived foolishness. But face-punching hippies would be long-lived fun.

  2. Excellent point, Keln! I can only think of one flaw, however, which is that no matter how many there are, Hippies - pretty much by definition - can never move beyond the "Infestation" stage.

    I think "Hippie Apocalypse" is the same sort of oxymoron as is "Slacker Revolution", provided we're ignoring the fashion industry, which for me pretty much goes without saying.

    But I absolutely must agree with your statement:
    "But face-punching hippies would be long-lived fun."

    Thank you very much for commenting!

    1. Excellent analysis. However the issue of ammo sustainability still needs to be addressed.

  3. From SineWaveII: Speaking of zombies check out "Walking Dead Mad Men" Go to YouTube and search for "Walking Dead Mad Men"

  4. However, in a Zombie Apocalypse there's ALWAYS the Jerk who refuses to cooperate and/or complains which eventually leads to the zombies entering your safe haven. You can never have a Harry Cooper/Shane free Zombie Apocalypse.

  5. i think we could resist a foreign military just fine. it's certainly working for the afghans.