I have a theory about zombie movies – wait, I know, just hold on and I will have a relevant point. It has long been established in academic circles that zombie movies are an expression of the fear of the other, specifically those things that we believe are changing our way of life. Immigrants, disease, materialism, the government. You can take your pick. Originally these movies were about being scared and running away, trying to hide or escape from that which frightened you. However, at some point we notice that the main characters in these movies are fighting back. Zombies are put down in massive numbers, usually still destroying civilization in the meantime but killed with abandon.
This is where my theory comes in. Zombie movies used to be about fear of the other. Zombie movies are now about the excuse to kill the other. After all, now you don’t even have to pretend they are human anymore. Bob the annoying neighbor is now Bob the monster and you are supposed to shoot him. That’s the line over and over in these movies “They are not people anymore.”
We want an excuse to act on our worst impulses.
While I could talk about the pros and cons of fiction in this, not to mention the myth of redemptive violence and social pessimism, that is not my point. Instead, I want to talk about that need to make an excuse.
When not faced with a zombie horde of people we used to know, how do we set up an excuse to act out? Isn’t this the worst trope of sitcoms, the wife (or husband) who gives her spouse a test, expecting them to fail, just so she can be justified in her anger? Have you ever bought too much cake or candy for something, knowing that you will have to eat the leftovers so that it doesn’t go to waste? Whether it is violence or sex or alcohol or gluttony, humans frequently put themselves in a position to give into something they at least express is wrong.
OK, so we are all human. In most cases not a life-or-death situation.
Until it is.
What happens when someone deliberately tries to put themself into a situation where their life is in danger from other people, not because they have a duty (like a soldier) to do so, but simply because they want to do so? What happens when they come heavily armed? People die, that’s what happens.
Now, you can probably think of a very specific example that I might be referencing, but the fact is it happens all the time.
Because we demonize the other, because we promote the idea of redemptive violence, because we have a meme of “one good guy with a gun”, we allow people to put themselves in situations where they can justify killing the people they want to kill. They can claim self-defense, claim victimhood, and still also claim heroism and virtue.
Stop giving yourself an excuse to sin. Stop letting other people have one.