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Monday, June 30, 2014

America, Scaremerica ... Hot Dogs, Apple Pie, Baseball and Zombies

The good old U.S.A. -- hot dogs, apple pies, Chevrolets.  And, of course, baseball and ... zombies? Some strange obsession with the undead is sweeping the nation. Many Americans must especially love all the fuss over something known as the "Zombie Apocalypse."

An increasing number of fantasy books, movies, television shows and graphic novels have portrayed creatures from the grave attacking the populace and taking over the country. It seems Americans find the concept of a complete breakdown of society not only terrifying, but also fascinating and exciting.

All of this stupefies me, but, of course, leave it to someone to come up with an explanation. 

Stanford literary scholar Angela Becerra Vidergar believes the reason for this popularity may trace back to an unexpected source. In fact, zombies may be helping some of us cope with the aftermath of World War II and the nuclear age when a cultural obsession with paradise and utopia ended, and when fear of the End -- and obsession with it -- invaded popular culture.

"We use fictional narratives not only to emotionally cope with the possibility of impending doom, but even more importantly perhaps to work through the ethical and philosophical frameworks that were in many ways left shattered in the wake of WWII," Vidergar said in a statement.
(Stephanie Pappas. "Why We're Obsessed with the Zombie Apocalypse." 
LiveScience. February 20, 2013)

Vidergar, a doctoral student in comparative literature, analyzed mass disaster stories in pop culture for her dissertation. She found that mass disasters such as the Holocaust, Hiroshima and Nagasaki opened up new realizations about the human capacity for violence, casting doubt about the upsides of modernized society.

"Instead," Vidergar says, "we are left with this cultural fixation on fictionalizing our own death, very specifically mass-scale destruction."

I guess many people are fascinated with the image of a post-apocalyptic world: doomsday preppers are a reality. And, of course, one can always find multitudes of believer in a new prediction for the end of the world as we know it. Even though I find all of this nonsense gory and distasteful, Professor Vidergar thinks it can actually be beneficial to uplift zombies in a fictional apocalypse.

"Zombies are important as a reflection of ourselves," Vidergar claims. "The ethical decisions that the survivors have to make under duress and the actions that follow those choices are very unlike anything they would have done in their normal state of life."

What's more, Vidergar said, zombie apocalypse tales actually invoke hope amidst destruction and death, as survivors battle for their lives. It helps people have faith that they could survive anything. Those who love zombie entertainment evidently fantasize themselves as these heroes.

Back to Baseball

On Friday, June 27, the AAA Buffalo Bisons Minor League Baseball Team marked their 2rd annual Zombie Night at Coca-Cola Field. Fans sported their spookiest zombie gear and were welcomed by thousands of other walking dead.

(Jillian Hammell. "3rd Annual Zombie Night Is This Friday." June 23, 2014)

The Bisons said the game was a blast for their fans they will never forget. To get the fun started, the team hosted Bisons Happy Hour, presented by Brooklyn Brewery, complete with live music by a zombie band in the concourse that echoed tunes throughout the stadium along with ghoulish noises. They even had fireworks to top off the fun-filled night and to bring everyone back to life.

Zombie Night was held in association  with the Food Bank of Western New York. Somehow, this seems strangely appropriate. Food ... flesh-eating zombies?

And, fans did not even have to supply their own zombie gear. Here is pregame post on the Bisons' website:

"Forget to put on your best zombie makeup? We got you covered! Local group, Terror Technologies, will be stationed in the plaza to make sure you walk into the stadium looking like the best ghoul in town. The zombies will be applying professional Hollywood makeup donated by Bloody Mary to get you ready for the night.

"The zombies will be taking over the ballpark as well as the big board! Monster-inspired clips will be incorporated onto the screen for all to see. Also, look out for some zombies participating in our promotions!"

The world record for most zombies in one place was marked at 9,592 participants. I'm not sure if the game this year set a new record, but lots of zombies attended the event

As a promotion, I'm sure Zombie Night increased revenue at Coca Cola Field, yet, for me, the inoperative word is fun. Isn't baseball a family sport, and didn't the event scare the living daylights out of more than a few youngsters in attendance? Hell, it would frighten me as an uneasy adult.

Ugly faces and monstrous sounds and blood-soaked costumes -- please, leave me out. Drunk and boisterous ghoulies at the baseball park represent a new America that craves fantasy as part of the reality of simply watching talented baseball players compete in a sport once very sensitive to tradition and generational values.

I mean, let's don't stoop to making these psycho, titillating, increasingly popular, haunted houses in our baseball parks. Thrills should be left to the players in the game, not be dependent upon particularly gruesome promotions. I know; I know... you say, "It's all in good fun." But, I don't believe Zombie Night is "all" in good taste. How can such lack of sensitivity not provoke many wishing to attend a baseball game free of tasteless drama?

Hey, if the Zombie Apocalypse is so fan friendly, why not field a minor league team with complete zombie makeup and effects similar to the way the rock group Kiss employed their getup in concerts. That way, undead fans could enjoy zombie tactics on the field all season long. If some entrepreneur decides to take this suggestion to heart, don't forget where you heard it first.

That's all for today from an old timer who seems to have lost all touch with good times. I still go to baseball games for the enjoyment of watching good play from the players. I guess I should pay much more attention to special effects in the stands. And, Jesus, does that scare me.

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