Pop culture point man Chuck Klosterman (Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs) pens an essay on zombies for the front page of the Arts section in the New York Times today, leading with the scintillating idea that “there are at least 2.4 million cable-ready Americans who might prefer watching Christina Hendricks if she were an animated corpse.” This, of course, because AMC’s new zombie show, The Walking Dead, outperformed Mad Men, allowing Klosterman the perfect topical set-up to purport that the steadily rising mainstream interest in zombies is explained simply: “A lot of modern life is exactly like slaughtering zombies.”
The article is quintessential Klosterman, so you already know if you like that or not. But however you feel about the meta-enabling, “the internet is like killing zombies” is a pretty entertaining argument:
Every zombie war is a war of attrition. It’s always a numbers game. And it’s more repetitive than complex. In other words, zombie killing is philosophically similar to reading and deleting 400 work e-mails on a Monday morning or filling out paperwork that only generates more paperwork, or following Twitter gossip out of obligation, or performing tedious tasks in which the only true risk is being consumed by the avalanche. The principle downside to any zombie attack is that the zombies will never stop coming; the principle downside to life is that you will be never be finished with whatever it is you do.
The Internet reminds of us this every day.
The argument, though, is admittedly borrowed, at least partially. Klosterman goes on to quote an essay we’ve already recommended you read by [disclosure] a friend:
Here’s a passage from a youngish writer named Alice Gregory, taken from a recent essay on Gary Shteyngart’s dystopic novel “Super Sad True Love Story” in the literary journal n+1: “It’s hard not to think ‘death drive’ every time I go on the Internet,” she writes. “Opening Safari is an actively destructive decision. I am asking that consciousness be taken away from me.”
Ms. Gregory’s self-directed fear is thematically similar to how the zombie brain is described by Max Brooks, author of the fictional oral history “World War Z” and its accompanying self-help manual, “The Zombie Survival Guide”: “Imagine a computer programmed to execute one function. This function cannot be paused, modified or erased. No new data can be stored. No new commands can be installed. This computer will perform that one function, over and over, until its power source eventually shuts down.”
So as not to spoil the inevitable part about Twilight, you can read the rest here.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 5, 2010