The Real Zombie in George Romero's 'Dawn of the Dead' Is...You
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Let's face it, we– –Humans and zombies alike– –would all run to a mall once the apocalypse started. But why?

in the George A. Romero's 1978 zombie film Dawn of the Dead, the heroes seek refuge in the mall. Upon arrival, Francine (Gaylen Ross) asks what the zombies are doing there.

Stephen (David Emge) says coolly: "(It's) a kind of instinct … a memory. What you used to do. This was an important place in your life."

This masterpiece of the zombie apocalypse is Romero's social commentary on American consumer culture. As the zombies shuffle aimlessly through the mall, the audience can see the zombies find solace in devouring consumption. But Romero's comment doesn't end there.

If you think, "I'm not like that. I would never become a zombie of consumption." Well … maybe that wasn't even the message Romero was trying to send. Granted, you probably don't see yourself in the decaying face of the undead ; You are probably dealing with the survivors seeking protection, and that is exactly what the director is about.

Sure, the zombies are "behind the scene" for the nostalgia of ritual shopping, but why do the heroes find solace in the mall? Is the mall full of supplies? Does it serve as a refuge from the horrors of life behind the doors of the mall? Yes (duh), but the heroes we identify with are fascinated by consumerism, as are the zombies.

Eyebrow Cinema breaks that idea down in their video below:

Romero extends his criticism to the human survivors, who start when they see the mall.

Like the zombies, you are attracted to the idea of ​​having the whole place to yourself. They turn everything on, although there is no need to turn on the fountain and open the shop windows. Simply put, they create a sense of "normal life" in times of crisis.

They search a J.C. Penney for "essentials" like a portable television and a toaster and exclaim that "(they) must get everything they can".

When the survivors face an actual threat, they try to minimize the situation by listing all the great things they can get from deals. Because the best way to avoid the fear of being eaten alive is to fill that void with things, right?

It's hard not to lose yourself so well in the movie. While the heroes try on clothes, play arcade games, and eat about $ 45 worth of candy ($ 175.50 today), the audience experiences second-hand thrills while the survivors live the fantasy overnight all in one Mall being locked up– –except for zombies.

Even with zombies, survivors and audiences get lost in the false dream of having everything they have always wanted. Money is still valued even though the economy no longer exists. When the looters show up, they also start taking stacks of money, which fills Stephen with anger.

I can't help but think, "What's the point if you can just take it all?"

This statement alone shows that I was also drawn to the lure of consumption in the film. Romero's comment on consumerism has turned into a number of different zombie films. In Zombieland, the characters raid Bill Murray's house because all the luxury and material items in the house protect them from the outside world.

Recognition: United Film Distribution Company

Some of the survivors in Do Dawn of the Dead Have moments of redemption in which they can break away from the magic. A looter realizes he doesn't have a TV and smashes all the other TVs. Peter (Ken Foree) takes back his statement that he was left to die with the mall, and Francine has an ah-ha moment when she realizes they are living as if no apocalypse is happening.

In these three moments, the survivors and the audience are confronted with their consumer guilt, the feeling of self-failure when they indulge in the "wrong" act.

It's hard to see Stephen and Roger (Scott Reiniger) getting lost in their material possessions. I scream at my screen, "Don't go back, you dummy! You will die!" when Roger goes back for a bag of things and Stephen risks his life to protect what is his.

These characters stand with the idea, "We took it. It's ours," which inevitably leads to their downfall. Everyone who died in the mall died for their right to consume.

Zombies wander through the mall in Dawn of the Dead.Recognition: United Film Distribution Company

Why does it all seem so familiar to me?

During the COVID-19 During a pandemic, many people protested against the opening of shopping malls and hairdressing salons so that they could return to "normal life". Understandably, some people wanted these places to reopen to provide work and rebuild the economy, but some just wanted to go back to leisurely activities.

Ignoring the pandemic to get back to a life of leisure is what Dawn of the Dead already tackled. The heroes fill their time with recreational and material goods, but feel dissatisfied knowing that a real threat is at the door.

Getting used to your situation doesn't mean that you are unlikely to be surrounded by a bigger one. Romero reminds audiences that a consumerist society makes it too easy to ignore the horror, violence, and death that afflict the world once you become familiar with what you have.

You see, the threat in Dawn of the Dead is not just the zombies, but what consumerism did to them … and every survivor is infected with it.

What do you think about senseless consumption in a world full of horror? Let us know below!


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