The idea of a zombie originates from Haiti. In the culture of Haiti, the idea of a zombie comes from giving the drug to a human. After the drug is swallowed, the human is then at a borderline of conscious and unconsciousness, and at a borderline of life and death. The creation of this powder is not known as it is kept secret in voodoo crafting. This drug and activation of turning a human into a zombie is feared in Haiti, but this fear is universal to other cultures to. No one wants to witness a rotting body walking around. The fear comes from knowing that the moving dead body comes from an actual human.
This concept of zombies became popular and grew out in areas. This idea then spread out to the American culture. The American culture adopted this of zombies and manipulated it for popular culture such as for horror movies.
The reason that zombies keeps us on the tip of our toes is because they were humans. The thought of seeing humans attack humans in the most vulgar, barbaric ways attract us. There is so much dramatic effect and so much concern in seeing a past human invading the safety of other humans.
Why I believe our culture is obsessed with the apocalypse and zombies is because we see the apocalypse and zombies as a metaphor to the future. Most specifically, zombies are a metaphor to the end of humanity; Armageddon. In popular culture, zombies are used in movies to present humans attacking humans. Metaphorically, this representation can portray that humans can be a capable to cause to our end of existence. Possibly this can represent global warming, or perhaps the rise of technology and robots, or a punishment from Mother Nature. Whatever the potential cause may be, I believe zombies can metaphorically represent that the human species will lose their existence from our own creations and destruction.
I see zombies in popular culture as an icon. There has been a fad about vampires lately in movies and television shows. I think our obsession in vampires is a reflection to our obsession in zombies as well. Zombies were presented in Michael Jackson’s music video, Thriller. The music video showed Michael Jackson and his zombie friends dancing. The video held at least a 60 second segment of just dancing. In the music video, Michael Jackson plays as a human, and then a zombie, and then a human again, tricking the girl he was on a date with. This enforces the view as seeing one a zombie as a human.
We are obsessed with zombies because we see zombies as potential humans, even though we understand that zombies are soulless, bodies. We begin to get so many feelings about zombies. We feel empathy seeing the possessed corpse as someone we know, we feel disgust seeing the decaying body, we feel fear understanding that the zombie is out to get us for eating flesh, and we feel confused because we do not want to hurt the zombie because it was of the person we knew. Trying to maintain the distinction between a zombie and human is controversial, because we do not want to understand the zombie as a bad guy, but one of the good guys.
Raising the dead: unearthing the nonliterary origins of zombie cinema. Kyle Bishop.
Journal of Popular Film and Television 33.4 (Wntr 2006): p196(10).