It was pointed out on a program I was listening to that zombies are quickly becoming the scary icon of our time. They asked why and I wanted to answer, but of course radio is a 1-way medium so I couldn't. Instead I have a blog, so we'll take a break from the brew blog for something else for a minute. So why zombies? I think the bottom line is that they're safe.
We live in a word of intense motivations, whether religious, political, or financial. We see bad guys in the news every day, killing for power, exploiting for personal gain, or just so desperate/psychotic/greedy they turned to crime to get by. Around the world there are people who believe so deeply in their version of Truth and Right and Wrong and Justice that they feel justified committing all sorts of atrocities. These things are truly scary. But at the same time, there's a part of us that sympathizes, if only in a tiny way. Terrorists are evil, but what would you do if your homeland had been seized by outside forces? Religious extremists are nuts, but what is there that you believe that you would fight for? None of this is to say that there isn't plenty of truly mindless violence on the planet, but there's more grey area in the things we consider evil than we would like to admit.
But zombies are safe. They don't need a motivation, they're dead. They don't have a political agenda, they're driven only by a survival instinct. There's no question of "what would I do in that person's situation?" because the answer is always the same...I'd be a dead shambling zombie. Unlike bad people in the real world there's no moral ambiguity whatsoever in killing a zombie. Their moral compass and free will died the 1st time around, so slaughter away. If you survive the pang of guilt you might have felt with die quickly. It's escapism at its finest.