Zombies And Sexuality Essays On Desire And The Walking Dead

By Shaka McGlotten and Steve Jones

  • Genre : Languages
  • Publisher :
  • ISBN : 978 0786479078
  • Year : 2014
  • Language: English


Zombies and Sexuality CONTRIBUTIONS TO ZOMBIE STUDIES White Zombie Anatomy of a Horror Film Gary D Rhodes 2001 2006 paperback The Zombie Movie Encyclopedia Peter Dendle 2001 2011 paperback American Zombie Gothic The Rise and Fall and Rise of the Walking Dead in Popular Culture Kyle William Bishop 2010 Back from the Dead Remakes of the Romero Zombie Films as Markers of Their Times Kevin J Wetmore Jr 2011 Generation Zombie Essays on the Living Dead in Modern Culture Edited by Stephanie Boluk and Wylie Lenz 2011 Race Oppression and the Zombie Essays on Cross-Cultural Appropriations of the Caribbean Tradition Edited by Christopher M Moreman and Cory James Rushton 2011 Zombies Are Us Essays on the Humanity of the Walking Dead Edited by Christopher M Moreman and Cory James Rushton 2011 The Zombie Movie Encyclopedia Volume 2 2000 2010 Peter Dendle 2012 Great Zombies in History Edited by Joe Sergi 2013 graphic novel Unraveling Resident Evil Essays on the Complex Universe of the Games and Films Edited by Nadine Farghaly 2014 We re All Infected Essays on AMC s The Walking Dead and the Fate of the Human Edited by Dawn Keetley 2014 Zombies and Sexuality Essays on Desire and the Living Dead Edited by Shaka McGlotten and Steve Jones 2014 Zombies and Sexuality Essays on Desire and the Living Dead Edited by Shaka McGlotten and Steve Jones Contributions to Zombie Studies McFarland Company Inc Publishers Jefferson North Carolina LIBRARY OF CONGRESS C ATALOGUING-IN-PUBLICATION DATA Zombies and sexuality essays on desire and the living dead edited by Shaka McGlotten and Steve Jones p cm Includes bibliographical references and index ISBN 978-0-7864-7907-8 softcover acid free paper ISBN 978-1-4766-1738-1 ebook 1 Zombies Social aspects 2 Sex in literature 3 Zombies in literature 4 Queer theory 5 Zombie films I McGlotten Shaka 1975 editor II Jones Steve 1979 editor GR581 Z65 2014 398 21 dc23 2014030916 BRITISH LIBRARY CATALOGUING DATA ARE AVAILABLE 2014 Shaka McGlotten and Steve Jones All rights reserved No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic or mechanical including photocopying or recording or by any information storage and retrieval system without permission in writing from the publisher On the cover poster art Return of the Living Dead Rave to the Grave 2005 Denholm Trading Inc Photofest Printed in the United States of America McFarland Company Inc Publishers Box 611 Jefferson North Carolina 28640 www mcfarlandpub com Table of Contents Introduction Zombie Sex Steve Jones and Shaka McGlotten 1 Take Eat These Are My Brains Queer Zombie Jesus Max Thornton 19 Victorian Values Necrophilia and the Nineteenth Century in Zombie Films Marcus Harmes 36 A Love Worth Un-Undying For Neoliberalism and Queered Sexuality in Warm Bodies Sasha Cocarla 52 For a Good Time Just Scream Sex Work and Plastic Sexuality in Dystopicmodern Literature Denise N Cook 73 Laid to Rest Romance End of the World Sexuality and Apocalyptic Anticipation in Robert Kirkman s The Walking Dead Emma Vossen 88 Queering and Cripping the End of the World Disability Sexuality and Race in The Walking Dead Cathy Hannabach 106 Re-Animating the Social Order Zombies and Queer Failure Trevor Grizzell 123 v vi Table of Contents Gay Zombies Consuming Masculinity and Community in Bruce LaBruce s Otto or Up with Dead People and L A Zombie Darren Elliott-Smith 140 I Eat Brains or Dick Sexual Subjectivity and the Hierarchy of the Undead in Hardcore Film Laura Helen Marks 159 Pretty Dead Sociosexuality Rationality and the Transition into Zom-Being Steve Jones 180 Bibliography 199 About the Contributors 213 Index 215 Introduction Zombie Sex Steve Jones and Shaka McGlotten How would you respond to the onset of a zombie apocalypse Given only moments to live and faced with the prospect of shambling endlessly through the world as one of the mindless undead what activity would top your bucket list Luckily for the unimaginative procrastinators among us zombie narratives offer various helpful suggestions For example in Zombies vs Strippers 2012 ecdysiast Jasmine elects to give infected strip-club bouncer Marvin a nal lapdance Whether or not this sounds appealing Zombies vs Strippers also presents a warning our desires are worth re ecting on in detail since they might not play out exactly as we hope they might Moreover as we move into undeath our desires may also mutate in unbidden and unforeseen ways Marvin and Jasmine s misinterpreted exchanges exemplify such slippage When Marvin moans about his bodily failure I can barely see I m so stiff Jasmine thinks that he is talk ing dirty As Marvin posits that he is so close to death Jasmine assures him It s okay baby you can come Amorousness and mortality meld That amalgam nds its fullest expression when Marvin nally turns Jasmine thinks it is sweet when Marvin declares that he values Jasmine for her braaaaains rather than her looks but she does not bargain on Marvin proving it by immediately biting her face off The next time the couple are depicted Jasmine now faceless and topless continues to dry-hump the fully zombi ed Marvin In this instance living sexual desire and the zombie s carnal longings are indistinguishable from one another The motto of this particular story may be that love transcends even death Maybe Jasmine and Mar1 2 Introduction vin s tryst signals that once en amed our passions are unstoppable forces Alternatively these gyrating sacs of viscera might underscore that even grotesque ghouls need a little lovin Whatever conclusion one reaches the unpalatable combination of zombies and sex is provocative triggering a multitude of questions about the nature of desire sex sexuality and the politics of our sexual behaviors Colleagues and friends varied responses to our proposal for this volume attest to how stimulating intellectually or otherwise the idea of zombie sex is Their reactions ranged from polite curiosity to surprise from disgust to shock Yes zombies and sex Is the juxtaposition really so surprising Zombies are increasingly ubiquitous cultural gures most commonly associated with a decaying half-life and a mindless appetite for human esh and or brains Sex is even more ubiquitous manifesting as erotic attachments and practices that are variously reproductive fun banal troubling and carnal Whatever form sex takes it is central to virtually every human life and form of sociality What is perhaps more shocking than the combination of zombies and sex is how infrequently this juxtaposition has been addressed in extant scholarship not least since our book proposal resonated with so many we received nearly 50 abstracts in response to our call for papers We were surprised by the range of cultural texts pornographic straight and queer that our contributors drew upon by the multifarious ways in which zombies and sex have been brought together in zombie texts and by the latent sexual themes zombie narratives explore Zombies crystallize fears and desires related to contagion and consumption to the body and sociality to autonomy and enslavement They represent a rari ed drive that underpins our conscious desires to consume In zombie narratives this drive impels contagious forms of contact sweeping up new bodies as it builds The result is that human sociality is fundamentally altered taking form as a collective comprised of individuals seeking connection with one another or a swarm of bodies devoid of individual subjectivity for example The essays in this book explore what happens in the wake of these encounters when sex and undeath are brought together The Zombies Are Coming Since the early 2000s zombies have become an increasingly signi cant presence in the landscape of popular culture They have ourished in their customary locale the horror lm 28 Weeks Later 2007 Zombie Sex 3 Survival of the Dead 2009 and they have also found success in genre mashups where horror merges with comedy Zombieland 2009 Juan of the Dead 2011 Cockneys vs Zombies 2012 Zombies even make appearances in family fare like 2012 s animated ParaNorman They have spread beyond lm into stage musicals Fleshed Out 2012 Musical of the Living Dead 2012 videogames Dead Island 2011 Left 4 Dead 2008 2009 and comics Chaos Campus 2007 present Marvel Zombies 2005 present That same ethos of amalgamation is evident in transmedia manifestations of the zombie myth such as videogame lm adaptations Resident Evil 1996 present 2002 present House of the Dead 1997 2003 literature lm crossovers Warm Bodies 2012 2013 World War Z 2006 2013 and television graphic novel adaptations The Walking Dead 2003 present 2010 present The mixed-media remake Night of the Living Dead Reanimated 2009 and the literary mash-up Pride and Prejudice and Zombies 2009 further exemplify the zombie s transmedia circulation Indeed as Max Thornton observes in his contribution to this volume the zombie offers a bridge between an iconic object of print media the Christian Bible and contemporary Internet meme culture The zombie s ubiquity also underscores its theoretical applications As monsters that straddle the gulf between life and death zombies disturb established ontological and epistemological categories as well as hegemonic norms Those disruptions are frequently associated with an assortment of social anxieties about viral contagion biological warfare neoliberal and totalitarian securitization environmental collapse and capitalist end-times Unsurprisingly our contributors evoke some of these themes either implicitly or explicitly Emma Vossen s analysis of The Walking Dead concentrates on the apprehension and anticipation that follow in the wake of global economic crisis In this regard Vossen s essay reiterates that in the horror genre zombies commonly symbolize apprehension over social precariousness and radical change Zombies expose the abject physiology beneath human skin either because they rip into living tissue or because their esh is falling apart Zombies also reveal what bodies are capable of and what they can endure Yet the zombie s presence outside of horror signals that the undead are not limited to re ecting collective fears As Vossen s essay elucidates the zombie renaissance offers a multitude of new insights into the zombie s capacity to re ect our erotic and even political desires Contemporary zombie narratives also expose an array of truths about our shared global present especially those that are tied to automation disposability and new collectivities 4 Introduction The zombie boom is a mass culture trend that is fueling a diverse body of new scholarly work As Steve Jones observes in his contribution to this volume although the zombie is foremost a movie-monster the living dead s signi cance has been contemplated outside of lm studies particularly in the philosophy of consciousness see Heil Kirk Locke Additionally since the early 2000s zombies have become increasingly visible in a wider variety of scholarly disciplines Neuropsychologists have drawn on the zombie in discussions of automated bodily functions Rossetti and Revonsuo Aquilina and Hughes Behuniak The zombie appears in computer scientists deliberations over arti cial intelligences and hacks Gray and Wegner Kari Larsen Posthumanists have evoked the zombie when debating the failures and possibilities of impersonal or pre-personal subjectivity Christie and Lauro Marxists have utilized the living dead in metaphors regarding the deadening effects of late capitalism and the turmoil and violence that results from ongoing global economic crises Giroux Harman McNally Necro-Sociality Importantly these various approaches are all rooted in concepts of sociality the relationships and forms of reproduction that organize associations between people social systems and non-human others Zombies are social monsters and their monstrosity is a re ection of our own Lone zombies are ineffective comical rather than frightening En masse however the zombie swarm is terrifying Zombies reproduce sociality itself as a kind of latent zymotic disease that threatens humanity s existence This trait what we might call the zombie s necrosociality illustrates ways in which zombies metaphorically capture anxieties about identity embodiment and agency that resonate with contemporary and historical social contexts As Marcus Harmes observes in his contribution to this volume one important context that has been largely under-theorized in zombie scholarship to date is Victorian social attitudes towards dead bodies Drawing on the quasi- necrophilic imagery of European zombie-horror set in the nineteenth century Harmes exposes the fetishistic sexual overtones of cultic Victorian mourning practices A tandem socio-historical context has received far more attention in zombie studies numerous thinkers have drawn upon the zombie s origins in Haitian folklore to understand histories of racism and racial- Zombie Sex 5 ized labor Moreman and Rushton Castronovo Many cinematic depictions of zombies are overtly racialized For instance zombies have been treated as somnambulistic slave gures in White Zombie 1932 and I Walked with a Zombie 1943 or monstrous cannibals pitched against white westerners in Zombie Flesheaters 1979 Zombie Holocaust 1980 and Zombie Creeping Flesh 1980 These texts illustrate speci c anxieties and fantasies about race and colonialism White Zombie and I Walked with a Zombie make these links explicit via their Gothic postcolonial Caribbean settings anxious miscegenation fantasies 1 and zombie laborers In African traditions zombies are not undead creatures hungering after the esh of the living but ordinary people who have been victimized by a witch or sorcerer who then forces them to work against their will As Lars Bang Larsen observes The origin of the zombie in Haitian vodoun has an explicit relationship to labor as a repetition or reenactment of slavery The person who receives the zombie spell dies is buried excavated and put to work usually as a eld hand These themes were explored as Larsen points out by Wade Davis in his controversial book The Serpent and the Rainbow in which the ethnobotanist sought a pharmacological explanation for zombies Davis s social analysis is more compelling than his pharmacological insights however for people of African descent in the post-colony zombies represent the loss of physical liberty that is slavery and the sacri ce of personal autonomy implied by the loss of identity qtd in Lars Bang Larsen see also Thomas In these traditions zombies are terrifying not because they are consumptive or contagious but because they evoke enslavement to the will of another More recently thinkers have drawn upon the zombie to comprehend the apparently magical accumulation of wealth under postcolonial neoliberalism Comaroff and Comaroff and widespread experiences of social precariousness Although it is now largely forgotten the paradigmatic image of the zombie as a looming murderous horde also derives from the Caribbean and especially the Haitian revolution which was perceived by the West as mindless rapacious destruction Sibylle 2 The contemporary zombie likewise almost always appears as a horde that threatens existence as we know it The zombie swarm is an inverted fantasy Like contemporary capitalism it represents destruction through voracious insatiable consumption Simultaneously zombies represent that which could deliver us from that self-same death drive Thus zombies might appear as a revolutionary multitude faceless inexorable forcing a global transformation toward a genocidal absolute war or they might catalyze a per- 6 Introduction manent d tente in which humans band together regardless of ethnonational and religious differences By dwelling on themes of collective power and revolution zombie narratives typically reduce the social world to its day zero providing opportunities to re-envisage society However a number of our contributors point out that in some narratives zombie futures bear a striking resemblance to our political present Moreover as Sasha Cocarla argues in relation to Warm Bodies and both Cathy Hannabach and Vossen argue in relation to different iterations of The Walking Dead many zombie narratives reproduce or even celebrate norms tied to romance gender ability and heterosexuality The Promise of a Zombie Future The leveling of social difference and of society itself is paradoxically facilitated by the zombie s lack of subjective agency The zombie represents humanity in a pre-conscious state Thus the zombie s revolution is not only social it also represents day zero for human identity and the imbricated experiences of individuality and interdependence on which sociality is founded see also Lauro and Embry As SheetsJohnstone observes animate corporeality is the foundation of lived experience In this view our bodies tie us to the world prior to the formation of identity In Mel Chen s recent articulations of animacies the liveliness of an identity body or idea depends on its place within ordered hierarchies and speci cally its relationship to forms of matter considered dead or insensate Chen argues that these hierarchies are profoundly relational What makes one body appear dead or alive has to do with how it affects or is affected by others The zombie animated esh evacuated of identity and agency enlivens concepts of life or of humanity in which the human is unconstrained by social or cultural limits Zombies are freed of any obligations other than to their own hunger As Trevor Grizzell explores in his analysis of The Walking Dead television series in this volume the displacement of excess onto zombies underscores human efforts to exercise forms of purity and control to erect animate hierarchies that guard humanity from forms of consumption or violence that are deemed beyond the pale To draw upon a famous example that unconstrained drive to excess leads zombies to return to the suburban mall where they once shopped in George A Romero s Dawn of the Dead 1978 Although driven by a quest for comforting familiarity the zombies are disoriented in the mall s terrain they fail to nd peace because Zombie Sex 7 their new state is incompatible with their previous existence Romero s interests in social politics are explicitly critical as is elucidated by the ways the normal human social world of conspicuous consumption is echoed in the zombie s insistent insatiable hunger For the audience and the living protagonists the zombie s presence in the mall is disquieting not only because they are incongruous with the setting Firstly the wastage involved in consumer capitalism is personi ed by the zombies who are humans-as-waste Secondly the zombie s fruitless desire and resultant confusion replicate the emptiness of living human desires Zombies are evacuated of self but they also reveal that for the living autonomous will is empty In his essay Steve Jones examines the gradual erosion of the human will and rationality in zombie transition narratives Zombie metamorphoses Jones suggests highlight the tenuousness of our claims to rationality as well as illustrating tensions in different philosophies of the self and sociality The zombie s body is post-mortal excess standing in for the ugly blind needs that are left after our jobs relationships life-plans and cherished personalities are excised Since the zombies reveal that our needs are aimed towards false unsatisfying goals the mall consumption those needs are not constituted by anything substantial We are insubstantial animated by powerful but opaque desires This is Romero s most signi cant contribution to zombie lore and one that is developed by allowing the zombie to explicitly evolve into consciousness from Day of the Dead 1985 onwards Also in 1985 Return of the Living Dead transformed the zombie inasmuch as it employed post- modern humor to develop the evolution of zombieconsciousness In this instance zombies are relatively articulate They are also able to mobilize and plan their cannibalistic assaults send more paramedics one zombie requests in preparation for an ambush These changes mean that the zombie clearly attains subjective existence far removed from the lumbering irrational beings offered in many earlier entries into the zombie canon The prospect of zombie consciousness is of concern because the paradoxes of the oxymoron living-dead and motorized instinct as the doctor phrases it in Dawn of the Dead unhinge foundational ontological suppositions The monsters are uncomfortably akin to their apparently rational living human brethren As Webb and Byrnand note there is always something nearly me about the monster 84 The social horror at hand is exacerbated precisely by the human-zombie parallel offered in these lms these monsters are uncanny doppelg ngers 8 Introduction Zombie Love Not all undead beings were treated as mindless entities prior to the 1970s The Mummy 1932 Dracula 1931 and Frankenstein 1931 all feature central living dead gures that display conscious motivation Interestingly these monsters are driven by explicitly human concerns in particular the quest for sexual companionship although Frankenstein s creation does not nd his partner until Bride of Frankenstein 1935 These lms pivotally present living dead beings not as mechanized husks but as individuals who lay claim to sexual identity even if that identity is impersonal distasteful or disaffected What is at once central and strangely absent from current debates about the zombie is any detailed consideration of sex and sexuality This oversight is startling not least since sex is arguably the most intimate form of social engagement and is a profound aspect of human social identity What makes the omission even more remarkable is how appositely the zombie re ects socio-sexual desires and fears Zombies are fundamentally reproductive attaining power through violent interpersonal and contagious contact In tandem zombie texts typically feature a band of survivors families or their analogues who must struggle to endure the zombie apocalypse and presumably repopulate the world In zombie narratives human sex is symbolically powerful it is an anxious reprieve to dystopian threat and a promise that future generations of the living will still inherit the earth In one sense sex might be envisaged as buttressing heteronormative fantasies then Allegorically the nuclear family closes ranks and is arrayed against an encroaching horde of foreigners or queers and heterosexual propagation is presented as the ultimate goal that might save humanity On the other hand zombie procreation represents a powerful alternative to heterosexual breeding one that de-naturalizes the relationship between heterosexual intercourse and propagation In the zombie narrative heterosexual reproduction is superseded and what Lee Edelman dubs reproductive futurism is upended In his essay here Grizzell argues that such upendings and especially the failures represented by zombie propagation offer useful queer re-conceptualizations of culture Where the zombie- lm s sexual politics have been addressed by academics feminist methodologies have typically been used to examine the living characters gendered relationships Grant 200 212 Greenberg 86 Paffenroth 59 66 Patterson 103 118 Subsequently there are two major oversights in the body of existing literature First sex and love Zombie Sex 9 play crucial roles in numerous zombie narratives That is sex is important to the plots and meanings of many zombie lms and manifests in a multitude of ways For example Shaun of the Dead s 2004 zombie plague is a backdrop for a romantic narrative that drives towards lead protagonist Shaun being happily reunited with his lover Liz However the lm s pivotal relationship is a bromance between Shaun and his best friend Ed who is more pertinently Shaun s partner in the narrative Although Ed becomes infected the lm closes not with a heterosexual coupling but with a merging between heterosexual and homosocial between living and dead Shaun Liz and the now undead Ed live together in a happily ever after union In the Japanese lm Wild Zero 1999 lead protagonist and wannabe rocker Ace is initially distressed to discover that his damsel in distress beau Tomoe is male However the zombie plague is the lm s only crisis Ace s momentary confusion is swiftly overturned when Ace has a vision of his rock n roll hero Guitar Wolf who proclaims Love has no borders nationalities or genders DO IT The romance unfolds in accordance with Guitar Wolf s enthusiastic assertion Further indications that zombie-narratives are not exclusively focused on heterosexuality are exempli ed by Noble Romance s Zombies versus Lesbians novellas such as Amber Green s Dead Kitties Don t Purr The series uses zombie outbreaks as complications in gay romance stories Given that sex and love are driving forces in so many zombie narratives it is surprising that they have been disregarded by scholars in favor of other less prominent themes In her essay for this volume Sasha Cocarla explores the queered normativity of R the zombie protagonist of Isaac Marion s novel Warm Bodies R engages in a three way relationship with Perry whose brain he has devoured and whose feelings he subsequently experiences and Julie Perry s former love interest Cocarla links R s quest toward greater liveliness to the affective aspirations interpellated by neoliberal notions of freedom rationality and the salvi c couple form 2 The second element overlooked in current academic discussion is zombie sexuality the fact that the undead have sex with each other and with humans in many contemporary zombie narratives Since the late 1990s zombies have been increasingly represented as sexual gures Frequently the results have seemingly reiterated normative sexual hierarchies in which certain bodies and modes of existence are subordinated to others Denise N Cook s contribution to this volume evokes precisely these problems Critiquing Giddens plastic sexuality paradigm Cook s dissection of short-stories about undead sex-work demonstrates that 10 Introduction although zombie sexuality represents versatility and freedom on one hand such imaginings are typically anchored by restrictive norms that fetter sexual liberty Dead Straight Dire Straights In an extension of the associations made between zombies and racialized identities then it may appear that sexual zombies are utilized to support the notion that male heterosexuality for example is the dominant standard against which other forms of sexual expression identities or genders are judged It is clear why one might reach this conclusion In the case of Lesbian Zombies from Outer Space 2013 for example female homosexuality is tallied with zombidom and therefore implied to be monstrous Indeed lesbianism is presented as an object of heterosexual desire rather than as an autonomous identity within this context As the lm s trailer proposes a world of lesbians is one man s fantasy which becomes a nightmare only because the women in question are undead The audience is interpellated into that presumed position of heterosexual privilege via the tagline They want you but not in a sexual way hang on to your Johnson 3 The trend of sexualizing zombies is largely aimed at straight men Both the Adult Swim Flash Game Zombie Hooker Nightmare 2009 and Edward Lee s comic book Grubgirl 1997 depict only female zombie prostitutes and heterosexual male patrons Since 2000 the website zombiepinups com for instance has drolly exhibited portraits of undead vixens as gruesome sex symbols Playfully evoking the iconography of 1950s pinup modeling as a dead form of pornography these images make light of the incongruity between cadavers and erotic photography More recently the marketing for Nintendo s Wii game ZombiU 2012 utilized the same discrepancy in relation to contemporary glamour modeling The print advertisement presents a model stripping off her bra accompanied by the leading question She s got a body to die for wanna see On turning the page the viewer is greeted with an undead version of the model We did warn you In both cases humor arises from a presumed incompatibility between rotting animated corpses and erotic desire However this maneuver involves treating zombies as sex objects by placing them in contexts typically associated with the sexual objecti cation of women Zombies become a logical extension of the visual tropes and practices of looking that render women s bodies as frag- Zombie Sex 11 mented objects of male desire Zombie Strippers 2008 for instance presents the undead in a context synonymous with heterosexual male voyeuristic desire 4 In this case the living clients respond to the zombie dancers with greater enthusiasm than they do the living ecdysiasts In this case the zombies are treated as sex symbols in their own right being dubbed beautiful by the customers who summarily reject the living strippers Such interchanges between sexual voyeurism and zombies throw doubt over the presumed lines between disgusting and desirable The decaying corpse epitomizes disgust Menninghaus 1 5 In usurping living bodies that are indicative of conventional sexiness and debunking the structures that institutionalize those conventions the apparently dichotomous division between desire and disgust becomes blurry at best This ideological collapse is not just concerned with why some bodies are deemed un desirable but also the desirer s motives In some recent lms such as Doghouse 2009 gender difference is hypostatized as a binary opposition all females are transformed into esh hungry ghouls who attack the living men In Stripperland 2011 a similar division is created with an added degree of sexualization women are transformed into undead strippers What is notable in these cases is not male heterosexual dominance however These lms depict sexual objecti cation as both oppressive and absurd The notion that heterosexual men might see all women as mindless strippers is a damning indictment of the former rather than the latter In these cases particularly in Doghouse men that stubbornly stick to sexual stereotyping are painted as laughable At best such men are ill-equipped to survive the onset of change At worst such men are limned as more monstrous than the anthropophagic cadavers that threaten them Numerous lms take the logic of objecti cation further by depicting human heterosexual men using female zombies as sexual receptacles The lm Deadgirl 2008 for instance portrays a group of ordinary young heterosexual men who become xated on sexually violating an imprisoned female zombie see Jones Gender Monstrosity Such fantasies are stark re ections of prevalent desires and fears at the outset of the 21st century an era in which consumption is deeply tied to sexualized desires for control and in which necrophilic extreme pornography has been the subject of legal enquiry see Aggrawal 180 Attwood and Smith 178 In cases such as Deadgirl however the zombie is not a monster the undead s blankness evokes powerlessness In contrast the human males are ghoulish abusers Being associated with sexual 12 Introduction deviancy Downing 168 Canter and Wentink 491 Gutierrez and GinerSorolla 854 55 necrophilia underscores how morally disgusting the males actions are Harmes and Cook s essays in this volume offer nuanced dissections of this necrophilic dynamic It should also be noted that zombies are not always victims of sexual violence In The Necro Files 1997 and its sequel 2003 and Rape Zombie Lust of the Dead 2012 for example zombies rape the living In these cases zombies are portrayed as sexually active beings whose cravings for living esh are not limited to anthropophagy Queer Eye for the Dead Guy Even when it is straight then sex between zombies and humans is inherently queer Elsewhere the gures involved are queer Queer interventions in zombie lore allegorize gay male sexuality run amok often humorously but they also underscore the political potential represented by zombie sexuality A few examples include VidKid Timo s parody At Twilight Come the Flesh-Eaters 1998 Michael Simon s Gay Zombie 2007 and Chris Diani s campy homage to 1960s horror lms Creatures from the Pink Lagoon 2006 These lms all play with the idea that gay male sex and mindless zombie hunger have something in common In Creatures for example a group of gay men at a beach house ght off a group of undead gay men who had become infected by radioactive mosquitos at a cruisy rest stop Gay Zombie follows a gay zombie through the difficulties of dating in the clonish West Hollywood scene In both gay male sexuality is represented as comically repetitive and a little dumb Creatures plays with stereotypes of gay man-eaters while Gay Zombie suggests that with the right attitude even the dead can t in among Los Angeles clones Bruce LaBruce s queer interventions offer other more politically engaged perspectives which are probed at length by Darren ElliottSmith in this volume see also McGlotten McGlotten and VanGundy In Otto Or Up with Dead People 2008 and L A Zombie 2008 the Canadian independent lmmaker upends the zombie mythos In these lms the zombies are gay outsiders for whom their zombie difference is gured as a queerness that is at once enlivening and deadening In Otto the titular character is a young amnesiac zombie who is new to his undeath His existential quest for an identity brings him into contact with Medea Yarn an experimental lmmaker who is completing a political- Zombie Sex 13 pornographic lm about gay zombies called Up with Dead People Yarn is intrigued by Otto s authenticity although she like the viewer is unsure whether he really is a zombie or just a messed up kid and decides to make a documentary about him a study of alienated queer difference In Yarn s lm an explicitly gay zombie army rises up to combat the banalities of late capitalism and deadened living Otto s own quest is less revolutionary or dramatic however Rather than discovering his will-to-power Otto models forms of impersonal subjectivity that refuse the lure of a destructive jouissance or the revolutionary multitude All living beings seem like the same person to him a person he doesn t like very much In the end Otto opts out enacting what Halberstam The Queer Art of Failure and others have dubbed a queer politics of refusal leaving Berlin to head north hoping to discover a whole new way of death In Darren Elliott-Smith s reading Otto provides LaBruce with a means to critique both the violence of homophobia and the bourgeois homonormativity of contemporary gay cultures Otto himself is a fundamentally ambivalent character and one who serves to satirize gay male sexual politics of top bottom he is both an object and a reluctant consumer L A Zombie 2010 likewise presents a gay zombie protagonist although this lm is explicitly sexual co-produced by porn companies Wurst lm and Dark Alley Media In L A Zombie an alien zombie rises from the Paci c Ocean and then roams through Los Angeles violent sexual underworld Again LaBruce upends zombie conventions In this lm the zombie is a lone wanderer who re-animates rather than devours his objects of desire He seems less motivated by a consuming hunger for sex or brains than by a melancholic and compassionate desire to undo the effects of violence When he encounters a dead young man their sexual congress and speci cally his black oil-like ejaculate brings him back to life In L A Zombie LaBruce extends his critique of gay culture as dead or boring and he also ambivalently offers sex as both effect and remedy to what queer critics like Lisa Duggan have called the new homonormativity The Twilight of Equality a gay culture rooted in an assimilationist ethos and oriented toward consumption and domesticity Sex LaBruce suggests is one possible route toward an aesthetic and political reanimation of gay culture Yet Elliott-Smith also underlines the lm s critique of gay male sexual publics which values hypermasculine forms as yet another capitalist meat byproduct The sexual politics of gay zombies may be as alienating as they are empowering In her essay for this book Cathy Hannabach likewise offers a skep-

Author Shaka McGlotten and Steve Jones Isbn 978 0786479078 File size 1 4 MB Year 2014 Pages 224 Language English File format PDF Category Languages Since the early 2000s zombies have increasingly swarmed the landscape of popular culture with ever more diverse representations of the undead being imagined A growing number of zombie narratives have introduced sexual themes endowing the living dead with their own sexual identity The unpleasant idea of the sexual zombie is itself provocative