Zombies & Philosophy

The Undead Gourmet

Brendan Riley asks: is it okay to kill a zombie just because it wants to eat you?

“I’m just trying to eat as few people as I can before we leave for Portugal tomorrow!”
Zombie Honeymoon (2004)

“What are they?”
“They’re us.”
Dawn of the Dead (1978)

When the tall ice-blue zombie in the checked shirt chomps into his girlfriend’s neck during the opening sequence of George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead (1978), we feel bad for her and revolted by him, but we don’t feel judgmental. Nor do we feel judgmental when someone terminates a zombie. These attitudes comes part and parcel with the basic assumptions of the genre: zombies are not people, but they are inherently dangerous, representing a distinct threat to the order of the universe, and must be put down. Zombie stories establish these ideas over and over again, depicting survivors struggling with guilt, at first unable to kill zombies who used to be family members, and yet driven to do just that.

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