OPINION: Zombies make dystopian media better

Tanesha Taylor

From 1927’s “Metropolis” to “The Hunger Games”, the idea of dystopia has always captivated audiences. Growing up, dystopia quickly became one of my favorite genres. Movies like “The Maze Runner” and “Divergent” as well as TV shows such as “The 100” have always held a special place in my heart. But to me, there has always been something missing from the run-of-the-mill collapsed society trope. And that’s zombies.

Seemingly straight-forward stories at first glance, every zombie-related story in the media is unique. They each carry their own stories, themes, and iconic pieces of world building that keep the genre fresh. When we think of the classic zombie monster, we imagine them to be slow and mumbling for brains. But what I love about zombie media is that each iteration of the zombie can be completely different from the last. 

If you’ve ever watched the Syfy television series “Z Nation”, they explain that the faster the zombies are, the more recently they’ve turned. This, compared to “The Last of Us”, is different, as the zombies in “The Last Of Us”, also known as the “infected,” are generally faster and stronger regardless of when they were turned. “Walkers” of “The Walking Dead” are slow and drag their feet. This is one small change that can affect the tone of the story, since a slower zombie is much less scary than a zombie that can easily chase you down. These differences present in zombie media is how audiences stay interested in the genre and keep coming back for more, as no two zombies are alike.

Likewise, some zombie media does not go into detail about the origins of the zombies, while others do. For instance, “Dawn of the Dead” does not explain a single thing about how its zombie apocalypse was caused. But in the Netflix series “All of Us Are Dead”, audiences get an hour-long episode to detail its zombie origins: how it started, where it started, and how it managed to spread. While both series are enjoyable and effective, each has their own strengths and weaknesses when it comes to conveying the intended stories. 

Because of this, zombie media has been captivating audiences since the dawn of the genre. There’s just something special about an average person being thrown into a life-or-death survival situation that’s so incredibly entertaining. We grow attached to these characters because we see ourselves in them, and the stories they tell resonate and stay with us forever. And once again, the media keeps evolving. The basic rules of the genre are understood, but each new addition to the media can be expanded upon as much as they please. This is what makes zombie media the best type of dystopian media.