Monday, 1 October 2007

the lady or the tiger?


Now listen -- this post about zombies is not so I have an excuse for putting up a picture of Milla Jovovich. Not at all. She is germane to my point today. Which is sympathy. How -- this is my plot problem -- do I find a way to humanize the zombies? I mean, they are gruesome and unintelligent and mildy risible -- and this makes them hard to like. The whole success of zombie video games is that you, the player, get to act out all your adolescent destructive fantasies. It's easier to fight an enemy who is dehumanised (many acts of wartime brutality are, at least in part, a way of dehumanising) and zombies, being pre-dehumanized, are the perfect enemy. Like orcs, only more satisfying to kill because they remind you more closely of your awful boss or your bratty sister.
And supposing I manage to re-humanize the zombies -- what then is the point of the book? Yes, I have a theme: we are all created beings, with life (sort of) and wants and aspirations. But I don't think my theme is a seller. I mean, no teenage boy is going to waste his sighs on a leaking, faceless, gibbering, piece of meat when he can stare at Milla Jovovich and sympathize about her. Yes, I said sympathize.
So do I give up on zombie sympathy? Do I have to put Milla or one of her ilk in the story? Maybe -- here's an idea -- maybe I can turn Milla into a zombie. Then the boy has a real dilemma in his hands. (Did I say in? I meant on.) Typically, the choice is between the door with the lady behind it, and the one with the tiger. But what if tiger and lady are the same?

10 comments:

Carol said...

Personally, I think Zombies are a spent genre, and I'd abandon the idea. But that's just me, and you are far more clever;) If you do pursue it, why not abandon all stereotypes and pre-conceptions and come up with something totally new? The idea of Zombies/lady/tiger as one is interesting but I'd say above the head of the average teenage boy (if that's who you're aiming for.)Me thinks they don't want you getting all existential on them.

Richard Scrimger said...

Old jokes, old wine and old cheese, old villains -- we like what we know. Zombies are a combination of them all, really. The question is how to put old wine in new bottles. RS

Marilyn said...

Maybe you need a character who feels sorry for a particular zombie, and you see that zombie through their eyes for the entire book. Or maybe someone became a zombie by accident. Or a zombie starts communicating with one teenager in a way that only he can
appreciate. Or one zombie acts differently than the others. Or a zombie was born into a normal family, and they try to hide it.

Richard Scrimger said...

I don't think anyone sets out to be a zombie, Marilyn. Mind you, it'd be an interesting career choice. I wonder which union you'd join? Negotiations would be tough, hey? Personally, I would not want to be on the managemnt side of the table. RS

Arthur Slade said...

Oh, can't wait to read it. You were born to write about zombies, Scrimger. Really, you were. And I mean that as a compliment.

Richard Scrimger said...

Don't know that my mom would agree with you, but I'll see your compliment and raise you a, Thank you very much.
RS

Sandra Love Nichol said...

I just finished reading Monsterology, snagged at Word on the Street, and I think Arthur Slade can spot a zombie/zombie creator. You didn't drink thorn apple cider the other day, did you, Richard? Is there a cure for that? Arthur? Zack?

Richard Scrimger said...

Hey, I'm doing this one old school. We start off with a dead raising -- at least, that's where I am now. The question is, is it really real? Yes, a zombie velveteen rabbit ....
RS

Sandra Love Nichol said...

That is way cool. Love as an antidote to whatever zombified the guy in the first place, thorn apples, or whatever. What a great and classic dilemma.

Sarah said...

My first reaction to this: That's a cool idea.
My second: Who's Milla Jovovich?


The rock I live under is very nice, thankyouverymuch.


P.S. I sent you the interview questions for my project. Just make sure you answer them before October 9th so I don't fail careers class, please?