Thursday, June 21, 2012

Realms: The City

[Sorry if the Realms: Space was too historical. I'll try to keep my enthusiasm contained in this post. Perhaps I'll redo Space in the future.]


On the flip side of the Space Realm, lies The City. It represents the reaction against Space. If you look at the four reasons American's love space, and consider the reactions to them, you'll better understand how The City came to be.

1.Romantiscism & NeoGothicism: Reaction against rationality. Belief in the supernatural. Heightened emotions. The skepticism/fear of modernity and science.2. Consumerism: Manifest Destiny viewed not as exploration, but as ownership of everything. Industrial Revolution.
3. Social Competition in the 50s on: Americans waged their own "Space" Race with their neighbors.  
4.  Space morphed into a sacred realm, our Earthly limitations became more apparent to us.

So how do these four things transfer to The City and not just 'The Post-Apocalyptic World'? When did you last see zombies originating from nature/The West? No, it's always the man and modernity to blame. Read on my friends.

AMC, The Walking Dead, 2010
Yes. The Walking Dead, love it. Look at this picture. What is happening? I'll tell you what. The brave, solitary, naive Cowboy Adam, I mean Rick, heads down the road away from The West to The City. 'Enlightened' people attempted to flee the city, but unfortunately it was too late.

Rick heads to the city of Atlanta from whatever suburb he came from in order to find answers. Specifically, he goes to the Center for Disease Control to find out how the zombies came to be, and how to cure them. Spoilers: He does not find answers in The City, only more destruction. Dare I say it? 'God' has abandoned humanity, leaving them to fight for survival. Rick, in turn, abandons The City to find his salvation elsewhere.

(Season two, you'll note, takes place in a southern gothic version of The West.)

Warner Bro. Pictures, I am Legend (2007)

This clip opens one of the many film adaptations of a novel by the same name. I couldn't help noticing the similarities to both the WALL-E intro and Walking Dead. Coincidence? Perhaps.

The director introduces the audience to The City as nature/The West reclaims it. Will Smith's roaring Mustang lets us know that landscape isn't completely void of humans. Dr. Neville hunts with man's best friend, like our ancestors used to. Humanity lives! But it doesn't thrive. Not only does the protagonist live in isolation, but he struggles to survive. Even with a hotrod and sniper rifle, the doctor cannot catch a mere deer. The scene following the opening shows Neville refraining from killing a lion with cubs, seceding his American/human 'right' as the apex predator/consumer instead assuming the nature/God given role of meek, flawed, and repentant. But that's about the Astronaut, not The City. My bad. 

The City reflects a similar sentiment however. Billboards and Logos flood the scene and act more than mere product placements. Like the Mustang they symbolize humanity's inadequacy in the face of nature/God. The Hyatt is not a home any more than McDonald's is a meal. However, The director/writer does not damn humanity in its entirety. Neville struggles with his supreme guilt/sin in creating the zombie-virus and his martyr-like repentance of finding a cure for it. Similarly, clues in the scene let us know not everything humans create is bad. The fact that it takes place in New York City highlights human achievements of Sky Scrapers and Broadway. The City in I Am Legend questions the American Dream and the conflicting ideals it represents.

Just as poster "God Still Loves Us" (1:25) makes Neville question his role in the world, The City makes the audience question their's.

You might be seeing a trend here. The City is actually The West (you'll note so is Space). But here's one that might not seem so 'Zombie' to you but is so clearly in The City.

Fanta "Chase" Commercial, More Fanta, Less Serious Campaign (2011) 

Just a group of people chasing a guy with a Fanta in an urban area. No big deal right? Just change that 'group of people' to 'hoard of zombies' and BOOM! Horror!

My point: Zombie movies usually take place in a Post-Apocalyptic world, not during the zombiepocalypse. The City exists as the source of zombies. Kids chasing each other for a Fanta instead of 1) buying one, 2) trying to earn money so they can buy one, 3) caring about better things than Fanta: the zombiepocalypse starts here. The hoard doesn't think about what they can do to better their lives or humanity. If this were The West, they would know it takes work to live well. If it were Space, they would already be living for their own/humanity's betterment. Look at the campaign title, More Fanta, Less Serious. Just let your worries wash down with the carbonated citric acid...

Interacting with Zombie related media reveals that the fall of humans isn't actually humanity over-reaching itself. God does not rain down wrath and make everyone pop out of existence. No, the Zombiepocalypse results from the fall of the belief in humanity. It's humankind giving up on itself. 

The ones who survive, the Astronauts and Cowboys, still believe in themselves and somethinganything, is worth fighting for.

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