Thesis - Open Access
Number of Pages
1 Introduction Zombies are a household name. In recent years, they have taken over the media, leading to zombie walks, television shows, and even exercise apps created in their likeness. Zombies, no matter the type, have been a source of cultural intrigue and fear. However, what exactly is it about zombies that make them so horrifying? While the immediate threat of death is a large factor, there are other fears elicited by a zombie incursion. This paper aims to examine three visual medias via primary source analysis in order to figure out what other fears are incurred with zombie-based societal collapse. This paper aims to analyze The Walking Dead, Zombieland, and I Am A Hero, while providing cultural context regarding the creation of zombies so as to better understand these fears. Additionally, on top of being a primary source analysis regarding social fears, this paper aims to analyze it’s visual media cross-culturally, comparing whether or not the fears shown in the films are the same in both American and Japan. Each visual media was chosen for a specific purpose. The Walking Dead was chosen for its longevity and the country it was produced in. The show’s run time increases the amount of information to draw from, leading to more substantial conclusions that of a movie. Zombieland was chosen specifically for how “American” it is in the scenes, characters, and plot. Lastly, I Am A Hero was chose due to the fact that there is very little information on Japanese zombie movies. This movie, however, not only got good reviews, but it also was a serious film, as opposed to the various parodies that were found while searching for source material. Additionally, because there is so little about Japanese zombie movies, I Am A Hero was also chosen due to its country of origin, allowing for a cross-cultural analysis between American and Japanese zombie movies. Furthermore, the first section of the paper takes a look at the cultural origins of zombies, tracing their origins back to West African religions and Haitian Vodou, which referred to zombies as nzumbi and zombi respectively. However, the zombi was eventually adapted to a different culture, gaining its own unique form as different cultures interacted and information spread. Depictions of zombies can be seen in these various cultures, which begs the question on whether or not the fear invoked by zombies has been changed by these cultures. Additionally, what is it that makes zombies such a visceral monster? By taking an in depth look into The Walking Dead, Zombieland, and I Am A Hero, I looked at what sort of fears zombies evoke on a sociocultural level and whether or not those fears differ based on the country in which the media is produced; specifically, America and Japan.
Date of Award
© Taylor Ashton
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Ashton, Taylor, "Living with the Dead: A Sociological Analysis of Japanese and American Zombie Media" (2018). Student Publications. 867.