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social fears, ranging from external threats to internal disorders. The zombie film has long served as an allegory for and a representation of contagious disease; the genre matured during the AIDS epidemic, and “new zombie” movies arose in the context of SARS, avian flu, and H1N1 with the films 28 Days Later, Planet Terror, and the remake of Dawn of the Dead. This cinema plays with metaphors of the human body and its relation to disease, offering both catharsis and terror. By depicting the failure of core social institutions and the inability of medicine/science to address epidemics, they represent a contemporary lack of trust in government's maintenance of security in the outset of terrorism and infectious disease. Finally, they set forth a critique of urban space and position it at odds with a post-apocalyptic return to the idealism of nature.
"They are looking for food; we are their meat in one sense or another. How do we compete with them? There are so many of them, they reproduce much more quickly than we do, they tolerate vast fluctuations of population size as part of their natural history. They lack the emotional apparatus to grieve whenever their population significantly declines. We are different from them in every respect." (Lederberg, 13) Horror, as described by Colavito, is "an active essence that captures our fears and crystallizes them into a shape we can understand" (2008, 6). The horror genre, manifest in stories, art, and film, is a voyage into the darkness unilluminated by the knowledge and scientific progress of the era. It is distinct from science fiction in that its monsters are set loose upon contemporary spaces rather than the shiny utopias of the future. In the classic horror films of the 1930s and 40s, mythic monsters were given great powers or immortality and occupied physical or spectral bodies. These creatures operated in an unexplainable terrain outside of science, and their narratives tended to be patterned: "A monster is discovered, its properties deduced, and the duration of the film is spent trying to put it down" (267). As science and technology has undergone rapid and dramatic change since then, new terrors are required to populate the contemporary territory of fear. The new zombie is a metamorphosis of the classic monster, which has multiplied in number and adapted to reflect new fears inside the shadow of science and medicine. The zombie can be considered a child of Frankenstein's monster and a distant cousin to the vampire. Both the vampire and zombie are backgrounded by the development of germ theory in the 1870s and epidemics of cholera, influenza, and tuberculosis. Barber contends that the myth of vampirism was constructed in pre-industrial societies to offer explanations for the relatively unknown process of death and decomposition (1988, 1-4). While the vampire is often a demonic seducer, the bringer of either death or immortality, the zombie has evolved into a desexualized embodiment of disease. The first film to use the term "zombie", White Zombie (1932), starring Bela Lugosi, elaborated on Haitian myths of the undead with mindless beings controlled by a voodoo sorcerer. It wasn't until the publication of Richard Matheson's book I Am Legend (1954) and the release of George Romero's Night of the Living Dead (1968) that zombies were released from the control of the evil sorcerer or scientist and presented in a context of autonomous and inexplicable contagion. As Night of the Living Dead begins, quite ironically, in a cemetery, and ends in an abandoned house, zombie films in general have relocated horror from the periphery of laboratories, exotic locales, and the countryside to the space of the domestic and the territory of the contemporary city. With his trilogy of films - Night of the Living Dead (1968), Dawn of the Dead (1978), and Day of the Dead (1985) - George Romero not only urbanized the monster, but at the same time presented them as a satirical reflection on American values. While Night of the Living Dead has been noted for representing the frustrations of the Vietnam War and containing a fairly potent civil rights message, Dawn of the Dead critiques modern consumerism by posing the zombie as a mindless and alienated consumer driven to cannibalistically consume others. The monster acts as a "totalizing metaphor which took material culture together with
its gospel of narcissism and 'having it all' to its logical conclusion in entropy, cannibalism, and self-consumption" (Badley 1995, 74). According to Harper, Dawn of the Dead features radical social critique which positions its zombies as the masses within a Marxian class hierarchy (2002). This is expanded in Romero's return to the zombie genre, Land of the Dead (2005), where the undead mass invades a wealthy utopian community in order to avenge the exploitation of its own. The zombie film as political satire has been adopted, albeit less subtly, in Joe Dante's episode Homecoming for the series Masters of Horror (2005), where deceased Iraq war soldiers return from the dead to protest the war. Within the last decade, the zombie film has had a resurgence. While the remake of Dawn of the Dead (2004) mirrors the consumerist critique of the original, the films 28 Days Later (2002), its sequel 28 Weeks Later (2007), and Planet Terror (2007) focus more on the medical aspect of contagion and institutional response to epidemics. Although they are undoubtedly inspired by Romero's trilogy, political and philosophical theories surrounding his movies cannot simply be transplanted to these new zombie films. One significant difference is the form of the monster: new zombies are faster and smarter than Romero's slow, mindless cannibals. Muntean and Payne argue that the new zombie is representative of fears of the terrorist among us within post-September 11th culture (2009). Another theory revolves around the politics surrounding the contemporary epidemic and their effects on media culture: after Surgeon General William Stewart declared the end of the "war against pestilence" in 1969, fatally contagious diseases - in particular AIDS, but including SARS, avian flu, and H1N1 - have emerged, creating a culture of fear and quarantines both formal and informal within and between populations. Faster and more infectious filmic monsters were required to epitomize growing fears of illness within the supposed post-epidemic society. Connections between the new zombie film, disease, and epidemics will be explored in length in this analysis. Horror no longer represents the enemy from beyond, particularly Russian invaders or the atomic bomb, but the darkness has expanded to the space of our daily lives, our families, and especially our bodies. In analyzing zombie films of the last decade as reflecting and intersecting with the contemporary epidemic, Kellner's concept of diagnostic critique, which "uses history to read texts and texts to read history" (1995, 116) will be applied to both film and its surrounding cultural context. Also used is a multiperspectival approach which is interested in a wide range of strategies to critique and interpret cultural objects; this method is interested in various disciplines but does not respect the boundaries which typically separate them. To examine convergences between biology, medicine, and culture, Morris' biocultural model is particularly relevant; it sees "illness as a mental, emotional, bodily event constructed at a crossroads of biology and culture" (1998, 19). The zombie film as an allegory operates on a variety of territories; this analysis is broken down into the various scales of the metaphor: the biological body; disease and societal response to the epidemic; urban space and nature. The Biological Body Particular metaphors have been used to explain bodily functionality and interactions with disease. The context of industrialization has provided an allegory of the body as a machine or as a site of industrially organized activity. Fritz Kahn's series of illustrations Der Mensch als Industriepalast (Man as Industrial Palace) in 1926 imagines the body as a factory where fuel is taken in, processed, and outputted. The head is a site of bureaucratic activity, where the messy biological brain is replaced by a department of memory and managers of speech. This visual metaphor internalizes industrialization and mechanizes bodily functions, and offers at the same time a simplified and inaccurate view of our biology. Yet it is still used recently, in children's educational material: the program Schoolhouse Rock features a song called "The Body Machine" to explain nutrition: "Look at those moving parts/as the body machine churns up ... I'm a machine, you're a machine/Everybody that you know/You know, are machines" (Ahrens 1979). An issue of this metaphor is that it places the physician in the role of the mechanic, and supposes a complex yet ultimately solvable process of diagnosis and treatment: this oversimplifies science's relation to the functioning body and the dysfunction or "incoherence" (Morris 22) of disease. While medical transplants often embody the machine metaphor, acting as parts being replaced in order to restore the functionality of the whole, the biological body is too messy to fit conveniently within this industrial allegory;
rather, a variety of metaphors and illustrations about the body's function and its relation with other organisms can be recognized at the same time. With the sophistication of germ theory and the establishment of modern medicine as an institution at opposition with disease and bodily disorder, a metaphorical view arose which saw the body as the terrain on which a battle is fought between foreign and domestic agents. Cancer, in particular, is "an illness experienced as a ruthless, secret invasion" (Sontag 5); this metaphor is expanded as patients are described as "fighting" or "at war" with their internal conditions. AIDS represents another battleground with similar metaphorical language: "the virus is winning ... why is the war against the virus proving so difficult? ... the virus attacks the very cells that should defend the body against it ... know your enemy" (Brown 1992). The Center for Disease Control's website for children features an "Immune Platoon" which fights against anthropomorphized common diseases; H1N1 is what appears to be a humanoid bulldog on steroids. Thus, it is not a great theoretical leap to see zombie films as presenting embodiments of infectious disease, especially in the context of recent epidemics that have received a large amount of media attention. The zombie as an undead version of ourselves not only poses a physical threat within the space of the film, but reminds the spectator of his/her own mortality. This phenomena can be seen through Freud's concept of the unheimlich (the uncanny): he describes it as "that class of the frightening which leads back to what is known of old and long familiar." Not only does Freud consider the humanoid monster uncanny, but pieces of the body as well: "dismembered limbs, a severed head, a hand cut off at the wrist ... especially when, as in the last instance, they prove capable of independent activity in addition" (1919). Terror comes not from the foreign, but from the familiar; walking corpses demonstrate the human body as nothing more than a meat machine, or pure biology without consciousness or spirit. As much as philosophers, most prominently Descartes, attempted to distinguish the spaces of mind and body, the latter of which is constituted as "all the system of members composed of bones and flesh as seen in a corpse which [is] designated by the name of body" (1970, 151), the existential logic of contemporary horror has united us with our bodies: anything in addition to our biology is mere philosophy and conjecture. The undead body is the same as ours, but without an upper layer of philosophical justification. "We're them and they're us," a character in Dawn of the Dead (1978) concludes. The zombie body does not necessarily fit into the machine metaphor, because even though it is to some extent broken, it still manages to function on a basic level. Rather, the undead body is a site for the existential messiness of disease which contradicts the internal laws of the body; its terror is located in the mystery of its own functionality. Much like the invasion of cancer, the zombie's origin is often unknown and its activity is unpredictable, but its threat remains real and inevitable. To fully understand the zombie phenomena, a journey is required outside of the singular body to the macro realm of collective disease and epidemic, where the monster is multiplied and becomes an agent of contagion. Disease and the Epidemic Metaphors, in particular those constructed or reinforced in the media, can be multifaceted and hold simultaneous meanings; often they do not survive their phenomenon (Sontag 88) and, existing as social constructions, they are are modified, expanded, and deconstructed to different contexts and times. While Sontag wanted to remove metaphor from public understanding of illness, an elucidation of the concept is useful in exploring not only social representations of disease, but its embodiment in the horror genre. A diagnostic critique of sickness which focuses more on popular perception of disease and treatment outside of the complex and often unapproachable terrain of the field of medicine is useful. This analysis is concerned more with the conceptualization of and responses to disease, rather than the maintenance of health; illness, according to Morris, "always seems to tell us more about a person or an era than health does" (52). Because a threat to the body also endangers the structure of local society, a multiperspectival approach sees sickness as being inextricably tied to social institutions and the relationships between bodies. In Illness as Metaphor, Sontag lays out the territory of the kingdom of the well and the kingdom of the sick; movement is allowed between territories: "everyone who is born holds dual citizenship" (3). However, it is impossible to occupy both at the same time, and there are
standards for immigration between the two: the sick are usually isolated within clinics until they are well enough to pass as healthy bodies and thus return to their kingdom. Within the two territories, stereotypes and imaginative thinking create metaphors from conditions of illness: "it is hardly possible to take up one's residence in the kingdom of the ill unprejudiced by the lurid metaphors with which it has been landscaped" (3-4). This metaphorizing and embodiment is a response to diseases which are not fully comprehended within current science, and exist as mysteries, contradicting medicine's premise that diseases have an observable and empirical cure. In her treatise, Sontag explores the nature of tuberculosis and cancer and how public metaphors affected both the perception and the treatment of these conditions. Her model can be adapted to address the filmic metaphor: the zombie monster acts as an allegory, or bodily embodiment, of infectious diseases, in particularly those prevalent in the contemporary era. Disease cannot be conceptualized outside of its relation to the body, because it is this biological site which is both host and has its existence threatened by infection. Health is the "silence of the organs" (Morris 52); the voice of the internal body speaks only in sickness. Zombies' rotting flesh seems to shout the loudest; they often wear their organs on the outside, and are corpses who persist in motion in spite of their decay. In Planet Terror, the infected body seems to bloat and swell rather than fall apart; a virus which has been released into the air creates zombies of disease, rather than animated cadavers like Frankenstein's monster or Romero's stumbling corpses. Planet Terror creates horror from common disease, but also obscenifies the medical profession: the doctors in the film delight in showing patients pictures of a repulsive medical variety, and use antiquated procedures such as the amputation of limbs. Tools of the medical profession become weapons of terror, rather than devices of healing; instead of transmitting medicine, syringes are used like knives, violently inserting toxins into the body of its victim. Within the space of the film, there is no safe territory: treatment is as horrifying as the disease. Contemporary zombie films like Planet Terror clearly have a more complex relationship with disease and medicine than the previous era's. Romero's zombies infect humans through cannibalistic biting: a form of undead rabies, where the virus is transmitted through saliva. In 28 Days Later, the virus is given a name - "rage" - which causes frantically aggressive symptoms after infection by saliva or blood; "It's something in the blood," a character says. Classic films have the zombie state existing after death; imagery show the zombie as a resurrected corpse emerging from the grave. New zombies, however, are infected and violently malfunctioning humans; the "rage" virus transports the infected into the kingdom of the sick, or rather the space of madness, in mere seconds. This acceleration of infection changes entirely the way sick bodies are managed, disabling opportunities for medical treatment and violently reducing the space for quarantine: the only effective response, as shown later, is violence. In the same manner that zombies represent biological bodies in decay, they are roaming metaphors for illness and contagion. Max Brooks, author of the tongue-in-cheek Zombie Survival Guide, describes them as "walking disease" (Zombiemania). What distinguishes the zombie film from other horror is that its monster is rarely singular, but gains functional meaning as part of a horde, or what what Mohammad terms the "total zombie organism" (2006, 97). While the individual undead body is an uncanny mirror for anxieties about our own fragile and diseased selves, the zombie organism is a metaphor for disease en masse: an epidemic which not only threatens the individual, but the social body itself, a collective invading virus with an irrational drive for destruction. When disease moves from an individual disorder to a collective and societal condition, it becomes an epidemic. The fundamental boundaries between metaphorical kingdoms are broken as the kingdom of the sick stages an invasion of the kingdom of the well. The epidemic acts as a "joining together of populations" which either contract the illness or are at risk of infection (DeSalle 1999, 153). Rosenberg describes the phenomena of epidemics as "so dramatic and so terrifying that most physicians and historians have tended to view them as something alien, something outside of society and contending with it" (1992, 110). Classic horror and sci-fi of the 1940s and 50s have staged alien invasion narratives, often as a metaphor for the threat of atomic and biological warfare. This has been continued with films such as The Andromeda Strain (1971), Alien (1979), and The Thing (1982) in which alien invaders take the form of an infectious virus or a parasite intent on replicating itself and
maintaining its survival in competition with human life. However, the concept of disease as an alien phenomenon does not necessarily fit within the metaphor of the contemporary zombie: this monster is very much "us", inhabits our infected and undead bodies, and functions within the same social structure; only a small boundary separates us from them. Just as Rosenberg sets forth the "alien" view of the epidemic, he opposes it with a more contemporary position, which sees infectious disease "as the consequence of social organization and especially of social inequality and social change" (111). The epidemic arises from society, yet at the same time threatens its stability and legitimization; it is not the invasion of aliens, but a revolution on a biological level, a civil war between the healthy and the diseased. There are allusions to historic epidemics in contemporary zombie films. In many films the monsters are set on fire by the humans; this not only makes for dynamic filmic imagery, but references the burning of bodies during epidemics, particularly the Bubonic Plague. Other issues of viral containment are explored; the entire nation of Great Britain is transformed into a quarantine in 28 Days Later as global authorities hope to contain the virus until the infected die out. The concept of quarantine is distinctive in that it attempts to physically separate the kingdoms: citizens of the kingdom of the sick are imprisoned within the terrain of the healthy and are subjected to surveillance and often experimentation of a scientific or medical origin. In Day of the Dead and 28 Days Later, zombie specimens are restrained with collars and treated like captive animals. In 28 Weeks Later the mode of quarantine is more contemporary, but its inhumanity is only submerged under the context of medicine: strapped to a hospital gurney, a female carrier of the virus is isolated while the medical and military authorities argue over whether to subject her to scientific scrutiny or exterminate her. The devastating effects of the epidemic require that it receive attention outside of the medical community; the phenomena "necessarily evokes responses in every sector of society" (Rosenberg 110). Part of the terror of zombie films is its exploration of societal response, in particular the failure of fundamental social organizations to combat the epidemic. In the same way that disease cannot be considered distinct from the body, a biocultural model refuses to see illness and epidemic as operating separately from the social realm, but as intrinsically connected with culture and society. In horror, institutional structures fail to protect, or arrive at the end, like the Calvary in classic Western fare, to rescue a few survivors. Thus, fears explored in film are not limited to the body or external threats, but extend to nightmares of a total societal collpase. After waking up a month after a virus has ravaged most of England and utterly destroyed its institutional structure, the protagonist of 28 Days Later has difficulty coming to terms with the societal and organizational downfall: Jim: "Of course there's a government. There's always a government, they're in a bunker or a plane somewhere." Mark: "There is no government. No police. No army. No TV. No radio. No electricity." The fear of institutional failure is coupled with a failure of technology endemic to the horror genre, often accompanying terrors of the body. In horror films, cars refuse to start, weapons jam and run out of bullets, and cell phones get no service or run out of battery. Since the zombie genre operates within a near or total failure of society, there are both fears and delights in living in the post-apocalypse. Looting is one of the more entertaining moments in films; "Let's shop," a character in 28 Days Later declares as they stumble upon a well-stocked and abandoned grocery store. This can be compared with news coverage of the Katrina disaster, in which looting became a contested term, especially when it conformed along racial lines. The distinction between looting and "finding" supplies is not only subjective, but carries with it a moral judgement: in films as well as journalistic media, it is the protagonist that finds material for survival, and the "other", the supposed criminal element, that loots. Morals within a fundamentally fractured society, as functioning to maintain boundaries of civility and drawing a distinction between the two kingdoms, will be addressed later on; first, an exploration of the failure of medicine and science within the space of horror is useful. Rather than representing a fear of science, as embodied in Dr. Frankenstein and other mad scientists, who Noël Carroll describes as "overreachers" (1990, 120), the zombie epidemic portrays a fear of the failure of science and medicine, along with other fundamental institutions. There is no cure for the virus, only survival through skill and the use of basic
technology. The medical institution rarely has a prominent positive role in zombie film; in Planet Terror it is a source of contagion, as corpses reanimate within the clinic and the sick take revenge on the callous physicians by using their medical devices against them. Only basic medical technology is used - splints, bandages, and other first aid provisions - and are used to remedy minor conditions, rather than the epidemic virus. The main female protagonist of the Dawn of the Dead remake is a nurse, and uses first aid to treat minor injuries but is unable to prevent the contagion or apply medical ethics to situations of newly infected humans: the survivalist morals of the group circumvent her efforts and the infected are executed. In the end, the firearm, a reliable yet limited resource, takes precedence over any medical or scientific device in addressing issues of the epidemic, reinforcing a survival of the fittest through violence. Contemporary films are realized within a general lack of trust in the government's ability to protect its citizens from epidemics and terrorist attacks like 9/11 and the London subway bombings; this is coupled with the perceived inability of the scientific and medical community to develop and distribute treatment for infectious viruses, including H1N1 and the "metadisease" AIDS. Independent and community responses to AIDS during its early stages when it was generally ignored by government health services and the scientific community can be compared to the rogue survivalist tactics employed by small isolated groups in zombie films; both function in the absence of an organized institutional response and support and operate on a strategy of survivalism with whatever elements and technologies they can find. In both 28 films and Planet Terror, the intention of the government, specifically military organizations, is dubious at best; in Planet Terror and other films military experiments are the cause of the virus, manifesting fears of military technology and biological weapons. In 28 Days Later, the only remaining institution, a rogue military group, is ultimately corrupt and intent in building a patriarchal utopian society as long as they are able to ensnare female survivors. "I promised them women," the leader admits to the male protagonist. Two characters in the Dawn of the Dead remake are members of core social institutions - law enforcement and medicine - yet both struggle to survive, choosing to adopt individualism rather than represent their particular roles and maintain the structure of the institution. The failure of technology and science extends, in a domino effect, to mutually reliant core social structures. The ensuing societal failure of the zombie genre provides for an annulment of the social contract, and the deficit of structures of social control both provides space for anarchy to flourish and reformulates the concept of morality. Ethics become more fluid and informal rules of survival emerge in order to negotiate a separation between the two kingdoms, lest the sick overtake the well. Murray argues that in the zombie film there is a dialectic between the communitarian and individualist, which reflects a distinction relevant to American political philosophy. 28 Days Later projects a form of social Darwinism, where the few survivors are those who are able to violently protect the boundary between kingdoms by killing their newly infected friends and family. "You wouldn't be alive now if you haven't killed somebody," the leader of a rogue military group tells the protagonist. Isolating and removing the sick is a necessity for survival under epidemic conditions; morality mutates in the face of illlness, and those who are equipped with the most flexible morals are the fittest for survival. The relation of morality to sickness is not unique to the contemporary moment; "the sick man himself creates his disease," the physician Georg Groddeck wrote in the late 19th century, "he is the cause of the disease and we need seek none other" (Sontag 46). In the same way that an internal condition has an affect on social relations, morality and conditions of interaction are transmitted, through metaphor, into the space of the body: "Passion moves inward, striking and blighting the deepest cellular recesses." Illness can reflect moral character when it is viewed as punishment for behavior or lifestyle. This is evident in ancient literature and religion: the plagues of Exodus, the Iliad, and Oedipus were of divine origin in retaliation for misconduct. In the 19th century, the vengeance of a deity was replaced with reactions of a corrupt character; Schopenhauer writes: "The will exhibits itself as organized body and the presence of disease signifies that the will itself is sick" (1966, 259). Contemporary zombie films have deconstructed this pairing of morality with illness by creating darker narratives where main characters, their family, and friends become the infected. In one of the more savage moments of the horror comedy Shaun of the Dead, the main character is forced to kill his recently infected mother; in 28 Days Later a daughter
loses her father, as he becomes infected from hapless circumstances, rather than personal moral failure. These threads reflect the complicated ethics of contemporary views of illness where becoming ill is no longer intrinsically tied with ethical behavior. Social ethics and the moral universe of film overlap but should not be considered identical terrains. Within the genre of terror, "horror morals" have set a distinct formula for ethical behavior and used violence to both typify and enforce their rules. This system of codes is deconstructed in postmodern narratives like Wes Craven's Scream series: minor characters tend to be slaughtered early on; individuals who display weak morals or have sexual intercourse are more likely to die than morally upright virgins. As recent films have complicated on-screen morality by using more complex roles and turning monsters into protagonists, most of the codes, although critiqued or submerged, remain. Since onscreen morality is to some extent formed by requirements of the film's narrative and dominant codes, an analysis of film ethics and its interplay with offscreen social behavior must take into consideration this distinction. When the two main females in 28 Days Later are threatened with sexual violence by a military group, the main character, Jim, saves the day by collaborating with zombies to kill the soldiers and free the women. By inhabiting the role of the protagonist, Jim is not only given a good chance to survive the length of the film, but is endowed with a higher order of morals, allowing him to violently murder the soldiers in order to save the purity of the women. In other films, it is not only the immoral that die, but expendable minor characters, who are sacrificed to develop tension and generate horror and thrills within the narrative space of the film. The sequel 28 Weeks Later is one of the minority of zombie films which is not ultimately pessimistic; the original carrier of the virus, immune to its affects, has two children which may carry the same immunity. In the same way that the infected are a metaphor for viral contagion or act as the embodiment of the microbe, the children are walking genetic material; their innocence is manifest as the cure for the disease, and they can be seen as the saviors of an sick kingdom. As illness is characterized as "incoherence" (Morris 22), the ability of medicine to find a cure and thus restore the separation between the two kingdoms can be seen as a step towards organization and positivism and away from the anarchy and blind entropy of the invading virus. However, this ending is not the same in most films; in them, the city falls, and the kingdom of the well is vanquished. The total destruction of the urban is a larger theme within zombie films; metaphors of the city and its relation to nature will be explored in the next section. Urban Space and Nature Through its connection to disease and the epidemic, contemporary zombie films bring up issues of urban space as environment and a site of contagian. Although some epidemics take the rural setting as their origin - bird and swine flu (H1N1) are two examples - the major locus of the spread of most epidemic disease remains in the densely populated space of the urban. It is no coincidence, then, that zombie films are mostly staged within the city; it is in the streets, hospitals, and malls that the struggle between the two kingdoms takes place. This is distinct from early horror, which isolated its monsters in graveyards, distant European villages, and on tropical islands; occasionally these monsters would be carelessly transported to the city to detrimental result, in the case of King Kong, Dracula, and others. The zombie epidemic as a distinctly urban phenomenon brings up issues of the spread of disease in the city and distinctly separates the space of the urban with the terrain of nature. In the history of medicine, a connection has been constructed between illness and environment. The chaos, dirt, and disorder of the atmosphere was viewed in the early 20th century as the cause of infection: Florence Nightingale diagnosed many symptoms of illness as representing a "want of fresh air, or of light, or of warmth, or of quiet, or of cleanliness" (1912, 8). This can be compared with the industrialized city, in which bodies are exposed to the the noise, filth, and coldness of an artificial and machine-mediated society. This view not only has a reference within the medical practice, but is imbued with a morality as well: society and the urban environment are seen as corrupting the natural man, a perspective held by Enlightenment thinkers such as Rousseau. The weakness of humans to remain within their original "state of nature" causes them to rely excessively on society; the greater the sophistication of social institutions, the more corrupted the man; industrialization is seen as a
move away from the simple society of virtue rather than a negotiation between contemporary desires and needs. This contributes to a modern dichotomy which opposes the realm of man to that of nature; the very act of defining nature as a "quantifiable, three-dimensional universe appropriated by humans" (Descola and Palsson 1996, 66) already recognizes it as a separate space from development and urbanism and, to some extent, idealizes it. Within the nature/ society distinction, the hospital can be seen as negotiating both, but mainly functioning as an antidote to the unhealthy urban atmosphere: a "corrected, organized, and ceaselessly supervised environment" (Foucault 2003, 32); a controlled space opposed to the chaotic (un)structure of the city. Rosenberg relates Nightingale's view of the hospital as a "microcosm of society, every part interrelated and all reflecting a particular moral order" (101). Even within the contemporary context, disease retains an unsubtle connection with morality specific to the space of the modern city. Its ties can be analyzed in both the history of AIDS as a public discourse, particularly in the cities of New York and San Francisco, and the relation of current epidemics with issues of immigration around the globe. Both attach political or moral components to movement, association, and sex within the urban environment, and construct informal and allegorical quarantines which separate populations based on their histories, points of origin, and sexualities. Scientific views on contagion have advanced since Nightingale, but a correlation between the epidemic and the city persists, because densely populated areas accelerate disease transmission, particularly within institutions such as prisons, schools, and daycare facilities. Although medicine has refuted theories of infection due to bad light or atmosphere and replaced them with germ theory, metaphors on the atmosphere of disease have continued to percolate the city's center. A concept of infection through industrialization has penetrated the space of the domestic: Todd Haynes' film Safe (1995) explores anxieties that household cleaners and chemicals could be the cause of new and unexplainable forms of disease and disorders; the backlash against products with artificial and/or harmful chemicals has taken the form of an organic and green revolution which seeks to replace the future with a pre-chemical and pre-industrial past. This opposing of nature and civilization is reflected in zombie cinema as the city is hopelessly overrun by monsters within; the only plausible strategy is a reversal of development in the form of a flight from the city and a return to nature. As the kingdom of the sick overtakes the city in the narrative of the zombie film, the rural is the only space relatively untouched, and acts as a haven for survivors; a new Eden for the rebuilding of the species. In 28 Days Later, the survivors escape to a pastoral country house, and other films end as characters escape the city in helicopters and boats; it is assumed their destination is far from the diseased city. The theme of their escape can be viewed in the context of a de-industrialization, both a reaction to and a result of the overconsumption and artificiality of urban space. The nature/society separation is not only manifested in the end of narratives, but at the beginning, within the origin story of the virus. Often, the epidemic originates within the realm of technology and science; in 28 Days Later, the "rage" virus is inadvertently released when animal rights activists liberate infected chimpanzees from a laboratory; while the ultimate cause of the virus is unknown, a scientist defends his research: "In order to cure, you must first understand." The infection in Planet Terror is of military origin, as are other films; more movies, particularly George Romero's trilogy, are less clear about the origin of the infection. In many instances, the virus, whether of natural or artificial origin, can be conceptualized as the revenge of nature or the overreaching mistake of technology which threatens to destroy society at large. This narrative succeeds condemning the contemporary urban setting while advocating a flight to suburban or rural locations as the only method of survival, recalling the concept of "white flight" which saw middle class inhabitants remove themselves from an increasingly diversified urban space. Within this context, and seen in connection with horror's failure of institutions and machinery, the zombie genre is in many ways technophobic, displaying a doomsday scenario where our contemporary society fails, and a virus threatens to existinguish the human species, banishing the survivors into nature and a former mode of living, before industrialization. Zombie films as metaphors are fairly pessimistic: there is no treatment for infection, and survival only exists for the few. The last remaining character in Night of the Living Dead is inadvertently killed by his own rescuers; in other films protagonists die as others barely
escape. Within the metaphorical struggle between human and microbe, the zombie, as an embodiment of the virus, wins, and replaces humans as the primary biological entity. Thus the fears explored in this genre do not merely extend to the survival of individuals, but the viability of the entire species; by depicting the failure of social institutions, they manifest a deep anxiety that contemporary science, despite its relative success and advancements, is unable to protect us from the tiniest of enemies, the microbe. Viewing the horror genre is informed by media coverage of the contemporary epidemic, or vice-versa, is an oversimplification: both forms equally influence each other, depicting fears of mass contagion while at the same time reinforcing them. Within the media, "epidemic" has become such a powerful term that it has been applied to rampant social phenomena, including teen violence and obesity. Fear does not merely provide for entertainment and cheap thrills, but elucidates the shadows of our imaginations, a dim terrain untouched by both common understanding and the empiricism of science, in order to more fully understand societal anxieties. A greater understanding of the role of horror within the context of science and medicine, as negotiated through the space of culture, can provide at least a fragmentary illumination of the darkness of our collective nightmares.
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