Let’s set the record straight about Zombies.


The Miami “Zombie” attack and a couple of others in the South have made news lately.  Most of us have heard the horrific story of a drugged out man, eating the face of a homeless man in Florida.  Since then, another man under the influence bit a police officer and threatened to eat him.  Another high man needed police intervention in Louisiana when he bit a chunk out of someone’s face.

And the media are calling these “zombie” attacks to draw attention.  Well, it works.

But these aren’t zombies, people.  They may be cannibals.  And they are certainly drugged out of their minds.  But they are not zombies.  There are different types of zombies, and even Webster’s dictionary offers a definition that I completely disagree with.  Yes, I am taking on Webster.  Allow me to make my point.

First of all, this is a zombie:

Image from AMC’s The Walking Dead

Notice the rotting flesh, the deep sunk eye sockets, and milky eye color.  Notice that this is a dead person walking about.  This fits one definition of a zombie: “the body of a dead person given the semblance of life, but mute and will-less, by a supernatural force, usually for some evil purpose.”  This is the “reanimated corpse” zombie type.  There are stories of a zombie curse that slows the heart rate and breathing down, rendering the victim in a mute and obedient state.  This supernatural type of zombie was around way before our flesh-eating Walking Dead friend here.

Popular modern fiction has made the “reanimated corpse” into a disease carrying flesh eater.  The disease is usually spread by a bite or blood contact from the infected zombie, carrying a man-made or radioactive virus.
Secondly there is a zombie drink, and no it is not the virus, but a cocktail.  The “Zombie” is made of several rums mixed with citrus juice and often with apricot liqueur.  Chelmsford’s Hong and Kong restaurant makes a Zombie cocktail that renders one quite clumsy with the chopsticks and fried rice.  In fact, the cocktail menu advertises that you will “join the ranks” of the walking dead with one.
Apparently, Zombi is a deity worshipped in some West African and Haitian religions.
So, Webster also defines a “zombie” as a “person who has a strange appearance or behavior.”  Another source states it as “a person whose behavior or responses are wooden, listless, or seemingly rote; automaton; or an eccentric or peculiar person.”  And this is the definition I disagree with.  Why?  Well, what is “peculiar,” “eccentric,” or “strange?”  Who defines that?  As a mental health therapist, I see most “normal” behaviors as “peculiar,” such as people willing to sit in traffic for two hours each morning and evening to commute to work.  My muscle relaxer causes me to slouch, blink slowly, and drag my feet when walking about, which is “peculiar.”  There are times when most humans will behave strangely.  If this is the case, then we are all “zombies” and the so-called Zombie Apocalypse has already happened.  And none of us seemed to have survived it.  What a lame apocalypse…..
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