Night of the Living Dork
It’s gotten to the point where you can’t even watch a movie without bringing race into it. Take for example last night. Sitting down and flipping through the channels and coming upon Night of the Living Dead just as it’s starting. Great news right? As it had been awhile since I’d seen this classic I settled in for a night of quality viewing.
Perhaps it’s just getting older and reading into everything but soon I was watching an entirely different movie than the one I’d enjoyed years ago. Everything was a metaphor, everything was a stereotype, everything meant something larger than the fact that everyone involved was running away from zombies.
What’s worse was that I couldn’t even settle on one perspective to take. One minute I was an open-minded white guy celebrating the fact that the black guy in the movie wasn’t the first to die, Night of the Living Dead might have been the first movie where this wasn’t the case, the next I was a biased black guy ranting about how that same black guy was portrayed. Then I was a biased white guy angered by how the white people were portrayed and then the next I was an open-minded black guy thrilled that the black guy wasn’t the first guy to die.
Pretty soon I found I wasn’t even watching the movie anymore, I was caught up in my own internal battles about how fucked up our culture is about race these days. I was projecting it all into a movie where the zombies didn’t care at all about the color of the skin they were looking to consume. If anything I should have been learning a lesson from the living dead but instead I was thinking about the fact that the words “nigger” and “cracker” have never been exchanged by people that were happy. So the zombies are breaking into the farmhouse and I suddenly have that epiphany and I’m missing all the violence and shooting and bloodshed.
Or was I?
I sit up and feel like I’m on the verge of something. Everyone living is biased but being biased doesn’t bring us happiness. Zombies don’t discriminate and yet they are never happy either.
What is this movie trying to tell me?
I was at the point where the movie was trying to tell me that it was almost over. Everyone had been eaten but the black guy stranded in the basement. Here’s where it gets totally consumed with subtext. The white men who arrive to save him end up shooting him, innocently enough, because they think he is a zombie. Holy shit, my head swims with the number of ways this could be interpreted.
My point isn’t to get into listing them all, I’m sure you’re already going through any number of them right now. The point is that the whole movie was fucked up for me because race relations in this country are fucked up and that’s totally fucked. I just want to watch a damned zombie movie without having to sort through a thousand different spins for every scene. I realize I only have myself to blame but that certainly doesn’t mean I’m not going to blame everyone else. Apparently my subconscious is a cesspool of racial confusion caused by rap music, images of police dogs attacking protesters, crime statistics, Martin Luther King Jr., poverty statistics, cross burnings and fucking horrible rap music. One minute I’m sitting on the couch humming We Shall Overcome and the next I might as well be wearing a white hood.
What the fuck! I just want to watch a fucking zombie movie.
The inescapable conclusion of the film was that nobody gets out alive.
Even the dead.