Following a previous post about vampires,
I now turn my attention to zombies.
This is the first of two posts.
If vampires tell us something about our relationship with God, then zombies tell us something about our relationship with one another. So,
‘The question then is why are the zombies our cultural mirror? What do zombies elicit from our current anxieties that other monsters do not?’ 
Since there are different angles on this — immigration, distributed networks, contagion, consumerism, etc.  — one blogger concludes: ‘Zombies, in the end, may be a type of embodied Rorschach test for whatever mass social anxieties and tensions may be present, or operating, at the time.’ 
So allow me to suggest one more angle: zombies enable us to explore what has come to be known as status anxiety. Wilkinson and Pickett provide a sketch of status anxiety in their book The Spirit Level.  Essentially, a number of societies (including the US and the UK) are becoming increasingly more unequal. As those at the top consume more and more, those just below the top also consume more in order to keep up.
And as those below them do likewise, everyone is consuming more to keep up with the Joneses. This is because everyone becomes increasingly more anxious about their social standing. So everyone becomes increasingly more concerned about what others think of them. This concern is status anxiety.
Allow me to suggest some reasons why the zombie leitmotif can be read in this way.
First, I am not the first to make the connection between zombies and consumerism here. That connection has been made already.
Second, note the scarcity of resources in the Zombie Apocalypse (both humans for the zombies to feed on, and basic supplies for human survival). This reflects the competition for social standing.
Third, such competition for social standing is driven by envy in the real world, and represented by zombies in the Apocalypse. Zombies represent pathogenic envy, showing us that we are like them. By consuming to increase our social standing, we induce envy in others. And so we perpetuate the pattern. Zombies make zombies.
(It should be clear by now that these different angles on zombies are not mutually exclusive, for example: although immigration is not fuelled by envy so much as need, need is not unconnected to systemic envy, because it fuels need in the first place by making the rich richer and the poor poorer.
Furthermore, in a distributed network all nodes are equal so none are central. Such a network exhibits the behaviour of a crowd. So insofar as social anxiety is a social – rather than individual – phenomenon, envy is more akin to a distributed network than to any particular point on that network. Again, envy here is systemic. It is a crowd behaviour. And so, insofar as envy spreads it might be considered a contagion, etc.)
In the next post we will consider antidotes to the Apocalypse.
 Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, and Cliff Rathburn, The Walking Dead #24 (Berkeley: Image Comics, 2005).
 Respectively, Jon Stratton, ‘The Trouble with Zombies: Bare Life, Muselmanner, and Displaced Bodies’, Somatechnic 1.1 (2011), 188-208; Steven Jankowski, ‘Protocol Z: The Distributed Social Organisation of Zombies’ http://textaural.com/protocol-z/; Melissa Nasiruddin, Monique Halabi, Alexander Dao, Kyle Chen, and Brandon Brown, ‘Zombies—A Pop Culture Resource for Public Health Awareness’, Emerging Infectious Diseases, www.cdc.gov/eid, Vol. 19, No. 5, May 2013; Stephen Harper, ‘Zombies, Malls, and the Consumerism Debate: George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead’ in Americana: The Journal of American Popular Culture (1900-present), Fall 2002, Volume 1, Issue 2. http://www.americanpopularculture.com/journal/articles/fall_2002/harper.htm (Accessed 15 March, 2015) cf. Robin Redmon Wright, ‘Vampires and Zombies as Critical Public Pedagogy: Using Horror for Critical Adult Education and HRD Instruction’ (unpublished paper).
 http://planetsave.com/2013/10/30/the-zombies-among-us-exploring-the-resurgent-popularity-of-zombies-in-modern-culture/ (Accessed, 17 March, 2015).