In the early 21st century, it seems like everything old is new again. Stories of zombies, witches and all things scary have been told and retold over many years. In the 1970's, Scooby-doo and Shaggy ran from ghouls, ghosts and zombies. Recently, zombies have "risen from the grave" once again to bring havoc and "end of days" fears back into mainstream media. After watching a documentary about this fascination, I struggled to find out what drew people to this dark subject area. Do people enjoy being afraid? Are these shows popular because they appeal to our more basic instincts for survival and thus draw us in? Some talking heads on the screen discussed the viability and possible scenarios that could bring this fiction to reality. Curious. It is amazing to me that so many people are so enthusiastic about this topic.
Connecting this craze with an article on the Harry Potter Alliance (Jenkins, 2014) made me scratch my head a second time. Another article about fictional characters in a world of superstition and supernatural events. Suddenly, here is where a connection started to form in my mind.
In all of the readings I have been doing in the course on media that I have been taking, there has been a distinct effort to use a popular subject to connect with people to achieve a positive result. Whether we have read about science fiction, commercials, fashion or the occult, we have been encouraged to look for connections from something frivolous to something relevant or beneficial.
In Fan Activism as Participatory Politics: the case of the Harry Potter Alliance by Jenkins (2014), for example, organizers used the fan base of the series of films and books to connect people together to achieve a social goal for the benefit of others, whether it was for a political issue, or something more practical like raising money for a charity. What a great idea! Such a great idea, I thought, what could be done for the general public good by using the fascination with zombies?
Though perhaps misguided, people in the documentary on the Zombie Apocalypse (2012) were making significant preparations for a zombie pandemic. Could we use the interest generated here to encourage those in the general public to be better prepared for environmental emergencies, like preparing food stores and evacuation plans? What about mobilizing fans to raise money for charity or even invest money in medical or environmental protection causes? I am sure some have thought this through, but could more be done? Rather than simply finding some mindless entertainment from watching death and destruction, could we not connect the energy of the viewer for the greater public good? Shall we continue to live like mindless zombie consumers, or can we rise to greater purpose?
Jenkins, Henry (2014) Fan Activism as Participatory Politics: the case of the Harry Potter Alliance. In M. Boler & M. Ratto (Eds.), DIY Citizenship: Critical Making and Social Media (pp. 65 - 73) Cambridge: MIT
(2012, September 12) Zombie Apocalypse [YouTube] DOCU Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=75&v=YdAe18Xvs4Q