Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Fairy Tales for Zombies

Being the I'm-always-up-way-too-late-and-never-get-enough-sleep type, exacerbated by trying to write with a baby-turned-toddler, you may think the zombies I'm referring to are those people with the hollowed eye-sockets of the sleep-deprived, wandering the world bemoaning their lack of brains - like me.

Normally you'd be right but this time I'm taking the zombie thing a little more literally (or is it 'pre-zombie' or perhaps 'zombie-predisposition'?).

I'm talking about a world where compulsive flesh-eating frequents situations and more often than not, those around you become the monsters of your nightmares before your very eyes. I'm talking about the world of fairy tales - not the Disneyfied, pixie-dust-laden, happily ever-after stories that most associate with the term 'fairy tales'. No. I'm talking about the 'olde world' fairy tales, where lecherous wolves eat grandmothers and little girls without repercussions, where seemingly sweet old women capture abandoned children and lock them up till they're fat enough to eat, where jealous mothers serve up their own sons as pies for dinner and families sit around gnawing the bones of their neighbors as if it were the normal thing to do. Cannibalism and the consumption of people is rife in fairy tales and while this knowledge isn't new to me at all, it only just occurred to me that the current zombie trend in urban fantasy and other cross-over genres actually has a lot in common with those tales long ago.

Today's 'hot' UF monster serves nicely as a metaphor for our Western culture's rampant consumerism blindly following popular trends as if we have no brains of our own.

And what are we telling ourselves? That we're rotting on the inside. That absorbing both the 'tripe' and the genius of others into our lives and minds at a voracious rate does nothing for our own mental state. It doesn't even sate the hunger we have. Instead it begets more. So we gorge, as we rot, and then we wonder where everyone went when it no longer feels good. They didn't disappear because they were disgusted by our eating habits. They disappeared because we ate them until there was nothing left.

Here's the thing. People are delicious. They really are.

I just can't help thinking it wouldn't hurt to be a little more discerning of who - and what - we bite into.

NOTE: Illustrations/color script by Katy Wu as part of a Pixar Art Internship. See more of the color script for her interpretation of Hansel & Gretel at her blog (click on the pictures to go directly there).

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