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Critical Reading Response Paper

CriticalReading Response Paper

Thefilm and literary works industries have been some of the mostfundamental sectors in the contemporary human society. Literary worksare aimed at depicting the occurrences in the society within whichthey are made. Similarly, there have been numerous cases whereliterary works are written with the sole aim of enhancing theimagination of the readers. This is especially the case for horrormovies and texts, whose popularity has risen exponentially in the21stcentury. One of the most popular horror texts today is “WorldWar Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War”,in which published in 2006 and comes as a collection of individualaccounts in which the narrator is the United Nations PostwarCommission’s agent after the worldwide war against zombie plague.These personal accounts outline the religious, environmental,political and social changes that came as a result of the devastatingwar. However, questions have been raised about the inspiration behindhorror movies and texts.

Thesis:Whilethere may be varied opinions, it is evident that the text outlinesthe culture of fear-mongering, deficiency of preparation andmisplaced priorities that are all aimed at earning them some extraincome from the calamities.

Lackof preparation is the weakness of American cultures. History willremember the tragedy in 1941 when Japanese suddenly attacked PearlHarbor, in which resulted in thousands of casualties. Americansshould have learned a lesson from the tragedy, but they did not theysuffered from a similar situation in 2001 when terrorists attackedthe World Trade Center. In the article, Bishops explains that theincreasing popularity of zombie movies indicate that more and moreaudience tend to think of the reality of death, since “such imagesof death and destruction have all the more power to shock and terrifya population that has become otherwise jaded by more traditionalhorror films.” Clearly, before 9/11, when individuals wereconcentrating on their standard of livings and personal business,they lost consciousness on national security. During that period, itis understandable that a traditional zombie movie was less attractiveto them. However, individuals start to concern about their safetyissues once a “Pearl Harbor” like situation occurred. Inaddition, it is easy to find a similar situation in the novel where“”Both Bishop and Brooke try to warn Americans that they need toprepare for unknown elements that may damage the country.

Culturalanxieties make individuals think about their safety issues. Brookshas described how the fear is created. In the novel, Scott makes avaccine called “Phalan” in order to make money. “Peopleselling their products? No. People selling the fear of you having tolive without their products.(Brooks 55)” Inthe book, Scott discusses the truth about economics and states thatfear drives the economic machine. He states that people are alwayscombating the &quotFearof aging, fear of loneliness, fear of poverty, fear of failure&quot(Brooks 3.3.3). Since the people had already given the infection thename “African Rabies”, he went into business selling the vaccinefor actual rabies. The people were bound to buy the stuff in hugeamounts especially considering that they thought that the infectionand rabies were one and the same thing. Underlining the complacencyof the government is the statement pertaining to the regulatingcapacity of FDA. Scott says that the FDA had become too businessfriendly, while the US Congress was in dire need of a cure that theycould not stop him. In fact, Scott even had the president speakingfavorably about him. The inability of the FDA to act against anyactivities that would dupe the public was essentially an element offear. The legislators were afraid of combating the possibility thatthere was no real cure at the time, an aspect that would eventuallyhave resulted in political uprising.

Inthe novel, one would examine the timing for the production of thebook and the occurrences at that time. Having been produced in 2006,it is evident that the book was outlining the fears that UnitedStates citizens have over their own mortality. As Bishop notes,literary works that revolve around cinema are a stylized reaction tocultural consciousness especially political and social injustices(Bishop 18). This book was produced at a time when the United Stateswas grappling with runaway terrorism especially after the September11 attacks. These attacks were, by all means, unnatural andunwarranted. As much as they may have outlined the growing threat ofterrorism in the entire globe, they also underlined the unpreparednature of one of the most powerful (if not the most powerful) nationin the globe. Scholars have noted that in Brook’s world, the Iraqwar and natural calamities such as Hurricane Katrina were onlyprecursors and indicators of the incompetence of the government.Government officials go to the extent of lying so as to avert thepossibility of widespread panic. The country is under an impotentbureaucracy, while the army lacks volunteers. Indeed, the authorconvinces his readers that in case of any unnatural event or anattack by zombies, there would be slim chances for survival formankind. The fact that the most favored careers (such as those thatrequire management skills) would be considered as less importantcompared to skills used in blue collar jobs such as construction,underlines the fact that the priorities of human beings in thecontemporary human society are simply inverted and wrong. Theseskills have had their importance exaggerated in an effort to inflatethe benefits that the businesspeople reap from them.

Oneof the most distinctive features that come out in the novel is thegeneral escapism that governments employ when combating issues. TheChinese government knows of the existence of the problem and even thepatient zero (a young infected Chinese boy). This is essentially whatis described by Bishop in “DeadMan Still Walking: Explaining the Zombie Renaissance”,where he states that the zombies are essentially corpses that haverisen from the dead and are corpses of known individuals (Bishop 20).Of particular note is the fact that the zombie literary works comewith a graphical representation of the inescapable realitiespertaining to unnatural death through infestation, infection or evenviolence. They present a grim perspective of contemporary apocalypsewhere the infrastructure of the society breaks down completely(Bishop 20). For a large number of problems that face human beings inthe contemporary human society, it is evident that they could havebeen prevented if only clear and efficient measures were taken tocombat them. However, this is not always the case for a large numberof governments. Indeed, the Chinese government in “World War Z”may have known about the impending pandemic even before the emergenceof the young infected boy. However, instead of coming out clear aboutthe issue and devising efficient strategies for combating thepandemic, it stirs up a conflict that involves Taiwan so as to covertheir activities. Indeed, these actions demonstrate the generalirresponsibility and lack of preparation of the government, as wellas the misplaced priorities in combating calamities that face thepublic.

Similarly,this may be seen in the introduction of the drug called Phalanx. Thisfake mediation was marketed as a vaccine that would combat the zombieplague. Unfortunately, the inability and unwillingness of thegovernment to test its applicability and effectiveness in combatingthe plague may be the main reason as to why zombies took over so fastand even explain why the horde attained such a size by the time Lanesencountered it. Phalanx and Breckenridge Scott (who invented thedrug) permeate the entire mid-zombie-war society as a medication thatis the ultimate cure. Unfortunately, it is the reason why millions ofpeople are condemned to un-death while Scott reaped his millions.This is essentially what Bishop (20) calls the “collapse ofsocietal infrastructures and the indulgence of survivalist fantasies.It is a system where everyone is simply concerned about his ownsurvival and does not care what he or she has to do to gain someeconomic mileage. Further, Scott does not take responsibility for thespread of the plague rather he offers excuses for the same. He statesthat he only stated that the drug was effective when used againstrabies. He also states that he never sold safety, rather he sold “theidea of the idea of safety” in an effort to protect people fromtheir own fears. This analogy may well be a condemnation of theindividualism that features in a wide range of government actions.

Inconclusion, Brook’s “World War Z”, while revolving around anunlikely occurrence outlines the deficiency of government planning,the culture of fear-mongering and misplaced priorities that are aimedat increasing the financial benefits to government officials.Unfortunately, enormous losses have been suffered in the UnitedStates as a result of escapism of government officials andunpreparedness. Such was the case in the September 11 attacks.Unfortunately, the reactions to such attacks or unnatural occurrencesare also half-baked and misinformed as was the case in sending troopsto Iraq in the so-called war on terror. This may be similar to theuse of Phalanx in “curing” the infection, which was impossibleand only aimed at benefiting some shrewd and well-connectedindividuals.


Bishop,Kyle. Dead Man Still Walking: Explaining the Zombie Renaissance.Journalof Popular Film and Television.2009. Print

Brooks,Max. WorldWar Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War.New York: Crown, 2006. Print.