Friday, October 30, 2020

PBS Digital's Storied exhumes the history of zombies for Halloween

I whined a bit to open yesterday's Purdue University's Marching Band performing Halloween halftime shows, including this year's socially distanced and remote pandemic edition.
The trick is that the Storied video I need for the entry on zombies I was hoping to post today isn't ready yet. Tomorrow, maybe.
Well, the third video of the series debuted last night, so it's time for the post I promised, twice.

I begin, as Dr. Emily Zarka did a couple of weeks ago, with The Origins of the Zombie, from Haiti to the U.S.

In the first episode of our three-part special series, we explore the complex history of the zombie—from its origins in the spiritual beliefs of the African diaspora to the development of Vodou in Haiti. Learn how one of the most enduring monsters in popular culture evolved in the midst of slavery, racism and prejudice.

Featuring expert interviews from Voodoo Chief Divine Prince Ty Emmecca, Associate Professor of History at LSU Dr. Kodi Roberts, and Professor and Author Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror Dr. Robin Means Coleman, you’ll get a new perspective on the long and complicated history of Voodoo in America and some insight into how the “zombi” became the “zombie.”
Three years ago, I closed Infidel 753 and I discuss zombies with the following exchange between myself and Infidel.
I know too much about zombies.

"Pinku: Well, it's nice to have the testimony of an expert.:-)"

I guess I am. Too bad it's on a topic that only exists in fiction.
After watching this video, I know that I may be an expert, but I'm not THE Expert. Dr. Zarka has that nailed down.

Follow over the jump for the second and third videos in the series, plus a bonus video about surviving the zombie apocalypse.

Of course, I'm more interested in the modern American science-fiction and horror movie zombie, the origin of which Dr. Z explores in Why George Romero Changed Zombies Forever.

In the second episode of our three-part special series, we move from the zombi which has its roots in spiritual beliefs developed during the African diaspora, to look at one of the most influential and enduring horror legacies of all time—the Romero zombie.

Considered the “godfather of zombies,” Romero’s 1968 film The Night of the Living Dead introduced the flesh-eating reanimated corpse to popular culture. But that’s not all he did. More than just a reinvention of a frightening fiend, the Romero zombie’s introduction during a time of great political and cultural unrest in America impacted how it was received—and why we still talk about it.

Featuring expert interviews from Author Daniel Kraus, who completed Romero’s novel The Living Dead, as well as Author, Screenwriter, and Lecturer of Black Horror and Afrofuturism at UCLA Tananarive Due, and Professor and Author Dr. Robin Means Coleman, you’ll learn just how influential Romero’s work became.
Dr. Z. appears to agree with the thesis of Science fiction speaks to our current anxieties regarding George Romero's use of ghouls, which became zombies in the popular imagination; they represent distressing developments that make people anxious or worried. I'm also glad she included how "I Am Legend" influenced Romero's concept of zombies. As I wrote in a comment to Entertainment for the sixth year of Crazy Eddie's Motie News then recycled into PBS Digital's Storied examines pandemics in literature and entertainment, "the original work was intended as a scientific explanation for vampires, but ended up becoming the basis for the modern science fiction zombie."

Society's anxieties have evolved, which means zombies have, too. Part 3, Modern Zombies: The Rebirth of the Undead explores the evolution over the past 25 years and particularly this century.

In the third and final episode of our three-part special series, we bring us to the 21st-century where the monstrous legacy of both the original Haiti zombi and the Romero ghoul play a role in the rebirth of public interest in the zombie. Modern zombies can be fast or slow, undead or clinging to life, but almost all are infected—and they all crave human flesh.

Featuring expert interviews from Author, Screenwriter, and Lecturer Tananarive Du, Assistant Professor at University of Tampa Dr. Sarah Juliet Lauro, Author Daniel Kraus, and Professor and Author Dr. Robin Means Coleman, this final episode explores how the effects of new global anxieties like terrorism, bioweapons, global warming, and overpopulation, have forever solidified the zombie narrative in global society.
Dr. Z. misses part of what I think drives the popularity of the zombie apocalypse, "the rural-urban disconnect, the fear of urban hordes ravaging the countryside, a lack of faith in progress, a not so subtle racism, and a desire to shoot their fellow Americans." At least she acknowledges the importance of the zombies being dehumanized so they can be killed, the slow ones a second time.

I've been so busy with exploring what zombies mean now that I haven't even considered how the COVID-19 pandemic will affect their portrayal in the future. I'm glad Dr. Z. and her guest explored the possibilities in the above video.

Speaking of the pandemic, Dr. Z. created How to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse (with Dr. Z) six months ago during the early days of the lockdown. It contains a lot of useful survival information which I'm sure helped her when she started isolating.

In this special episode, Dr. Zarka shows you what’s inside her “go bag,” a kit of survival supplies she keeps on hand at all times. Why would someone need such a thing? For the inevitable zombie apocalypse of course! But in all seriousness, why do we have such a fascination with apocalyptic scenarios?

In this episode you’ll find out how the horror genre can inspire real-world preparedness and take a look at how humans throughout history use literature, film, and art as ways to explore (and even practice for) real-world pandemics and disasters.
Just like horror stories, writing this blog has been good preparation for me. If nothing else, it's been excellent therapy!

Like all the rest of this week's holiday entries, I'm including a drink recipe. Of course, it's a Zombie (1934 Recipe) - How to Make the Classic Tiki Cocktail & the History Behind It.

Here's how to make the Zombie Punch, the first famous Tiki drink, the original Don the Beachcomber classic made with Gold Cuban-Style (or Puerto Rican-Style) Rum, Dark Jamaican Rum, 151 Demerara (Guyanese) Rum, Lime Juice, Grapefruit Juice, Cinnamon Syrup, Falernum, Grenadine, Aromatic Bitters and a Mint Sprig for garnish.
Bottoms up!

Stay tuned for one more Halloween entry. Trick or treat!

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