The unnamable dead
July 12, 2011
Watching the first season of The Walking Dead, I found myself incredulous, as I often am when watching zombie fiction, at the lack of any character who is like, “Oh em gee, ZOMBIES !” ((A Swedish philosopher recently remarked to me: “So I hear the Pope is on Twitter now. I wonder if he tweets ‘OMG’?”)) Why have so few people in zombie-based media ever heard of the word zombie? ((The origin of which, according to the OED, is Angolan “NZambi”, “the word for Deity”. First recorded in English in 1819.)) After all, characters in shows or films about vampires, werewolves, demons and the like are naturally au fait with the proper terminology for the monsters they face. “Hmmm! That is definitely a vampire! Let’s shoot him through the chest with a harpoon chained to the bumper of our pickup truck and then drag him out into the sunlight through the wall of his decrepit shack!” And yet in zombietainments, people get saddled with weird circumlocutions: walkers, the infected, et cetera. It’s like no one in a zombie film has ever seen a zombie film? When everything else, as in The Walking Dead, is so ultra-realistic, this phenomenon really pains me. But perhaps there are some good reasons! Any ideas?