You may not have realized it, but every American movies shows us something about the philosophies and myths of our society. You may think that movies and TV shows are just about entertainment. Wrong! Every single [American] movie or TV show is a reflection of what America values. For example, Americans really value sacrifice. It's not a good movie unless there is some sort of sacrifice. Think of Armageddon or I Am Legend.
So, knowing that there is a reason movies are made, there's got to be a reason for why there are so many zombie movies and TV shows. It could be that our society is paranoid about the breakdown of society. Maybe so. But I think it's a little deeper than that.
In zombie movies, it is usually the case that nearly everyone has become a zombie or been killed by one. And there is always one person or a very small group of people that is fighting for their lives, having to kill zombies left and right. What does this say about us as a society?
I think it is very easy for us as individuals to feel as if we are the only person that matters and everyone else in our lives is just a character in our storybook. Or maybe it's the case that you mostly only care about yourself and the people who are closest to you. When we go out in public, we encounter thousands of other people, yet we act as if they don't exist. Think about when you go to Wal-Mart. People act as if you don't exist by stealing your parking spot when you've been waiting for it for 5 minutes. When you're walking down the aisles, people don't move their carts or get out of your way. They act as if you are not real. When it's time to check out, you hope there is a self check-out that is available because you don't want to acknowledge the existence of another person (the cashier.) During your whole Wal-Mart experience, you may not talk to a single person out of the hundreds of people in the store.
We figuratively "kill" the strangers we encounter by not acknowledging their existence or treating them as a real person. These strangers essentially zombies to us. We see them as not real, not alive.
This is a troublesome theory. What has caused us to lose our humanity? What has caused us to become so selfish that we cannot recognize other human beings as people like us who are also struggling through this existence?
You can change this. Try an experiment. The next time you go to the grocery store, smile at a random stranger. Have a conversation with the cashier, even if there's a self check-out open and you're really tempted to use it.
Theory credit: Professor Brent Gilchrist