There has been a lot of fascination lately with zombies. Apparently, the most viewed show on television is “The Walking Dead,” a series devoted to man’s battle against these creatures. Personally, I can’t get into the show as I accidentally had a brief glance at the opening scene of one episode two weeks ago which began with a number of people kneeling before a trough who were hit on the head with a pipe and whose throats were then slit, their blood pouring out. This would, in my view, have been something that was in bad taste at any time – and in view of the videos that ISIS so proudly posted on YouTube is simply revolting. But that’s just my opinion.
While the practice of voodoo has been with mankind long before African slaves were exported to the Caribbean, most Americans knew little about it nor cared much about it and its sister cults until the late 1950’s. The Kingston Trio which had formed, primarily to perform calypso music, had been thrust into the limelight when their song “Tom Dooley” was an outstanding billboard success in 1958.
When Capitol Records approached them with a boatload of money and told them that they were now “folk singers” – a genre that was becoming increasingly popular – the three young men agreed. However, keeping with their original motif, the following year they recorded, “Zombie Jamboree,” a song originally entitled, “Jumbie Jamboree” and attributed to Jamaican, Conrad Eugene Mauge, Jr. While I was first introduced to this song by them, I do prefer Harry Belafonte’s version which follows:
“Zombie Jamboree” came and went without having any major impact on our interest in its subject matter. Until fairly recently. The interest in zombies has exploded to the point that movies and television programs draw a wide viewership when they portray the living dead and mankind’s ability – or inability – to deal with them. There seems to be a consensus that the way to stop a threatening zombie is either by shooting it in the head or applying an ax to that same body part with a great deal of force and vigor.
I wonder if that methodology was researched using taxpayer funds. After all, last year our government gave a grant in the amount of $307,000 to inquire into the behavior of sea monkeys, $50,000 of which was allocated to study synchronized swimming by these tiny shrimp; another $856,00 to study how mountain lions adapted to being on treadmills; and $387,000 to determine whether rabbits who were given Swedish massages benefited from that therapy. So why not a couple of million or so to determine the best way to defeat our zombie foes, if and when they should actually come into being?
I would attribute the intense interest in zombies to Ebola and stories about other possibly terminal diseases which seem to be erupting throughout parts of the world. The general theme of how a person is transformed into a zombie usually centers around some new and horrible germ, virus or perhaps manmade chemical weapon. Of those alternatives, I would give most credence to the third of them. But the explosion in interest in zombies precedes these events by at least a number of years.
Perhaps my greatest hesitancy for believing in zombies is that they are supposed to be dead, mindless creatures – feasting exclusively on living humans. In the first place, if they are truly mindless, why wouldn’t they just eat each other? And have they never heard of Moo Shu or pizza?
On the other hand, if there is evidence that these creatures exist, there is probably no greater proof than that many of them will be voting on Tuesday – with or without state issued ID cards.