I saw Land of the Dead over the weekend. I was talking about it with a friend of mine from work, and he was asking me what the “political statement” of it was. He explained that George Romero had said in an interview that all of his “Dead” movies were intended partially as political allegory. I don’t really think there is on any partisan level--- If there is, it’s so subtle that I didn’t notice. There’s a theme running through the films in that most of the humans you meet are actually worse than the zombies, and LOTD was no exception. But I don’t necessarily see that as political.
However, there was one part of the most recent one that I think was probably an accidental political point, but a salient one.
Early in the movie, you learn that humans have found an easy way to carry out their agenda. As they raid a town full of zombies to scavenge for supplies, they shoot up fireworks, or “skyflowers” as one of the characters calls them. The zombies are completely distracted from what they were doing, and stand in the street staring up at the fireworks. In the meantime, the humans walk right past them to take whatever isn’t nailed down, and often kill them where they stand while laughing their heads off.
And it got me thinking about the skyflowers in our own society.
How many people are profoundly affected by the Jonbenet Ramsey murder? A dozen, perhaps? Yet there it is at the top of every news hour. We have a war going on (And not going well), a major city that is largely uninhabitable, gas prices through the roof, a war with Iran on the distant horizon, a steep increase in fatalities in Afghanistan, and yet… America is so captivated by a ten-year-old murder case that even questioning the wrong guy takes priority over all of that.
How many people know more about Tom Cruise being cut loose at Paramount than they know about current conditions on the ground in Iraq? Do we really care that Lindsey Lohan is getting drunk and showing up to a movie set late? Who is Paris blowing today?
Every time one of these non-stories comes up, Americans take their focus off of the world around them to look up at the skyflowers.
Who has been more effective at floating them than Fox News? Their brand of news for the escapist crowd has resulted in Americans knowing more about the Natalee Holloway disappearance than the current state of the war in Iraq.
By halfway through Land of the Dead, a leader has risen from among the zombies that encourages them to ignore the fireworks and focus on the task at hand.
Where is that guy?