Reality Skimming
13Dec/11Off

Stimulus/Response: Zombies Haunt the Classics

What is the meaning of mockery? Does it honor or belittle the emotions that classic works inspire?

Lynda WilliamsLynda Williams is the author of the Okal Rel Saga, published by Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing. Part 7: Healer's Sword is the next anticipated title. Lynda's work features moral dilemmas in a character-driven, multi-cultural setting with radically different attitudes to sex and social control surrounding space warfare and bio-science.
Pride and Prejudice - Zombies

Pride and Prejudice - Zombies

Stimulus

Zombies in contemporary settings mock the preoccupations of our daily lives. In this mode they express a longing for the heroic in the face of relentless mundanity. I enjoyed Shaun of the Dead (2004). But I find the drive to zombify classics disturbing. As if the stories were being turning into fast food and discarded in a balled up wad of grease and cheese blotted paper.

Response

What makes it amusing to turn Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice into something akin to a B-class zombie movie? What tension is being unknotted here? Is it just fun, or a guilt-free trashing of respect for the book and its message? Certainly it is always a pleasure to revisit anything well known in a different manifestation. It can be a pleasure to be affectionately mocked, too, as the Okal Rel Universe has experienced in the "crack art" of Mel Farrow, in particular. Mel took the edges off Di Mon's uptightness through her "character mockery". And maybe the people who mock the classics with zombie versions of them also love the characters they are lampooning. But I wonder if there isn't also an element of surprise at how completely helpless characters are to defend themselves. And, in the aftermath, a devaluing of the message bound up in the original. Historically, priesthoods punished mockery harshly because they knew it undermined their authority. Are we seeing, in the zombification of classics, the overthrow of ethics in literature? The revenge of the "anything goes" element in all of us against the authors and influences that have successfully impressed on us, in the past, that some behavior is less acceptable than other behavior, that might is not necessarily right, and that things deserving of respect should get it?

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