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"Goodbye, Jean-Luc, I'm gonna miss you. You had such potential. But then again, all good things must come to an end."
- Q, Star Trek: TNG

Reason: We the Living Dead

by Ken Newquist / October 20, 2008

If I ever get back to writing my Libertarian Gamer columns, I'll be sure to do one on the Living Dead. Zombie flicks have had political overtones almost since the beginning reaching their pinnacle with George Romero's Dawn of the Dead. Reason.com writer Tim Cavanaugh surveys  three books on the subject -- including my favorite Pretend We’re Dead: Capitalist Monsters in American Pop Culture by Annalee Newitz -- and offers his own thoughts on the subject matter: 

No zombie discussion would be complete without orotund socio-political theory, so here’s mine: By foregrounding the question of how much dignity there can be in death and dying, the era of physician-assisted suicide and Terri Schiavo has spurred the recent revival of the zombie film. The British director Danny Boyle revived his career with the zombie-type plague picture 28 Days Later (2002).

Dawn of the Dead was remade in 2004 with a big budget and an A-minus-list cast. That same year, the genre-informed Shaun of the Dead proved it's possible to combine romantic comedy with zombie holocaust in a completely successful picture. And in 2005 Romero, whose forays outside his genre have yielded mixed results, returned to form with what the posters promised would be his 'ultimate zombie masterpiece.'

Land of the Dead, a Metropolis-style parable, takes the elements of class warfare to their insane conclusion. The zombies—“blue-collar monsters,” Romero calls them in interviews—are dressed in hilariously explicit class markers: a butcher’s smock, a gas station attendant’s coveralls, etc. The villains are literally cigar-smoking capitalists, holed up in Fiddler’s Green, a high-security skyscraper in Pittsburgh’s Golden Triangle.

Personally, zombies are the only monsters that have frightened me badly enough to give me nightmares. I think it's the unrelenting sameness of them that scares the crap out of me. Putting on my libertarian gamer hat for a moment, I see a lot of great political angles with a zombie game, be it parodying dogmatic communism, anarchist capitalists or end-of-days religiosity. It's not something I'll likely ever get to run ... but a geek can dream, can't he? 

Comments

I know that you and several of your players will balk at such an un-Star Wars like notion, but I think that zombie creation would be an uber cool dark side force talent for a KOTOR game.

Heh. Well, we'll see. The beautiful thing about science fiction is that you can easily create a one-off zombie world (or werewolf world or whatever) and it doesn't have to make it's away back into the main storyline.  So as long as its plausible within the confines of said universe, you can run it.I think Stargate's better for this kind of thing than Star Wars; Stargate pulls in everything, including the kitchen sink (which is a big reason why I'd love to run it some day) where as with Star Wars I think you need to stick to some more familiar (and traditional) pulp/space western/scifi tropes.