Why zombies rule (updated x 2)

Mr Simon Pegg of Spaced and Shaun of the Dead fame has explained perfectly why fast-moving zombies are so deeply lame:

    You cannot kill a vampire with an MDF stake; werewolves can’t fly; zombies do not run. It’s a misconception, a bastardisation that diminishes a classic movie monster. The best phantasmagoria uses reality to render the inconceivable conceivable. The speedy zombie seems implausible to me, even within the fantastic realm it inhabits. A biological agent, I’ll buy. Some sort of super-virus? Sure, why not. But death? Death is a disability, not a superpower. It’s hard to run with a cold, let alone the most debilitating malady of them all.

Exactly! But wait there’s more what is even better:

    More significantly, the fast zombie is bereft of poetic subtlety. As monsters from the id, zombies win out over vampires and werewolves when it comes to the title of Most Potent Metaphorical Monster. Where their pointy-toothed cousins are all about sex and bestial savagery, the zombie trumps all by personifying our deepest fear: death. Zombies are our destiny writ large. Slow and steady in their approach, weak, clumsy, often absurd, the zombie relentlessly closes in, unstoppable, intractable.

    However (and herein lies the sublime artfulness of the slow zombie), their ineptitude actually makes them avoidable, at least for a while. If you’re careful, if you keep your wits about you, you can stave them off, even outstrip them—much as we strive to outstrip death. Drink less, cut out red meat, exercise, practice safe sex; these are our shotguns, our cricket bats, our farmhouses, our shopping malls. However, none of these things fully insulates us from the creeping dread that something so witless, so elemental may yet catch us unawares—the drunk driver, the cancer sleeping in the double helix, the legless ghoul dragging itself through the darkness towards our ankles.

That is why zombies are so powerful and so chilling. You can fight them off. You can get away. But in the end? Not so much.

No one escapes death.

Un***rns as a metaphor? For what exactly? Tooth decay? Give me a break. They are a beastie entirely without resonance.

Zombies for the win. Yet again.

Update: Because I am nothing but fair I am pointing you to Diana Peterfreund’s response. In which she defends lame sparkly boring uni***ns. Feel free to go over and point out her wrongness.

Update the second: Now John Green, who is on the side of zombies, weighs in.


  1. Diana Peterfreund on #

    I loved this article. Also, I disagree with you. Unicorns are a metaphor. Heck, in art, they’re a whole allegory! In alchemy, they were a whole language!

  2. Justine on #

    Maybe in the olden days, Diana. But I don’t know if you noticed: this isn’t the olden days. No one allegories or alchemises no more. Unicorns are metaphorically as dead as the dodo.

  3. Carrie on #

    dude, that is a totally brilliant article. I feel as if I have finally found some sort of manifesto! I think he’s dead on about the slow zombie and yet I would argue that when he talks about the drunk driver or cancer, that would be similar to finding a fast zombie in a sea of slow ones…

  4. lauren of the limberlocks on #

    No, no, darling. Unicorns have resonance and metaphorical depth, you goof. You have a quirky brilliant brain that enjoys the DARK SIDE. Hence, you like to talk about zombies and death.

    But for us fluffier sorts, unicorns are:

    –yet pure.

    They transcend concerns of mortality. They appear mysteriously. They are always, always, always forces of the good. (I have never come across a corrupted unicorn, have you?)

    Could unicorns be sexy angels?

    Unicorns, to me, speak to idealism, magic, and my unsquashable believe in good over evil.

    Plus, a unicorn could take a zombie any day. 😉

  5. lauren of the limberlocks on #

    I’m back! I actually think Unicorns versus Zombies could be seen as a litmus test. I think you should set one of those poll-y things. Or I will, if someone tells me now.

    Hip no-nonsense down-and-dirty coolios go for zombies: you, Holly (even if it’s a love-hate relationship), Cassie, etc.

    But there is a contingent of Pollyanna-and-proud-of-it writer peeps out there, too. Like me. 😉 The unicorn is not dead to me. Should I write a novel about it? Hrrrmmm. Could be so very fun.

    Other unicorn friendly authors (who nonetheless aren’t sap city). Hrmmm. I’m gonna go out on a limb and say…Sarah Mlynowski. Robin Brande. Courtney Sheinmel, whose last name I’m probably misspelling. Wendy Mass. Rachel Vail. Meg Cabot…maybe?

    We need to take this further!!!! Somebody go to my blog at laurenmyracle.com and tell me how to do a survey thingie!

  6. lauren of the limberlocks on #

    Oh. My. God.

    I should write Equus starring a unicorn. Starring a unicorn and Juatine!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. Maureen Johnson on #

    Simon Pegg is a PROPHET! He writes of our zombie friends with such eloquence. Such poetry!

    I have enjoyed fast zombies in the past, but now I see the error of my ways. I want to state clearly, though, that I embrace ALL zombies. Shamble on, my friends! Shamble on!

  8. Alisa on #

    Yah -Boo! Zombies!
    Unicorns 4evr!
    Such are my personal feelings.

    However the librarian in me must disclose the data. A Googlefight between zombies and unicorns results in….The Cold, Hard Facts.

  9. carbonelle on #

    “Save maid that is makeless no man with me mell”
    –Alan Garner

    this was an especially prevalent idea in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. Unicorns were a common motif in psychedelic artwork, where they were a stand in for hallucinations. The horn was occasionally likened to the opening of the “third eye” in transcendentalism, and overall of the embrace of fantasy and of innocence as a powerful and positive lifestyle choice.
    –Diana Peterfreund

    So.. what you’re telling me is that the hippie-dippie ignoramuses took the unicorn of Alan Garner and C.S. Lewis (Tirian) and Spencer, chewed it up and.. spat… it out as the saccharine khreppe Ms. Larbalestier so rightly despises?

    I shouldn’t be suprised…

    At least Ms. Wilson and Ms. Dean get Unicorns right… (That’s Chryse, my favorite unicorn)

  10. E. Kristin Anderson on #

    You make me want to write a highly literary unicorn story. It is now my holy grail.

    And seriously, couldn’t agree more about zombies.

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