Z-level trends

A few highly publicized cases of cannibalism and other lunacy have trickled into the funnel that is the Internet and poured out as the trending of the term ‘zombie apocalypse.’  According to the Huffington Post’s “Zombie Apocalypse: CDC Denies Existence Of Zombies Despite Cannibal Incidents,” the term reached the third spot on Google’s list of hot trends. At one point on Sunday, ‘zombie attack’ ranked 10.

The ‘zombie apocalypse’ is a lighthearted reaction to some things that are quite grim—one that’s understandable.  But when the CDC is really refuting the existence of zombies (beyond the publicity stunts mentioned in the piece), that speaks to a protocol for news that should be weird as anything under the Huffington Post’s “Weird News” header:

Over the years the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released a couple of tongue-in-cheek “zombie warnings,” which really are just disaster-preparedness stunts. But on Thursday, the agency made it official: Zombies don’t exist.

“CDC does not know of a virus or condition that would reanimate the dead (or one that would present zombie-like symptoms),” wrote agency spokesman David Daigle in an email to The Huffington Post.

It’s likely the spokesman for the CDC is hamstrung by rules that don’t allow him to say,  “That’s just stupid.”  But in what world does the CDC have to repute the existence of non-metaphorical zombies?  This one, I guess, where news-like content is partly driven by social trending.

Hopefully it goes without saying, but zombies are fictional creatures – the ‘walking dead’ that threaten to overcome life or the best of whatever life is supposed to mean.  On the most surface level, they’re entertainment. And because of that they also have a kind of sheen.  It’s not the sheen of fashion, but for the folks whose lives are carefree enough to make zombies into some form of social currency, it’s a sheen that’s as trivial as any other (Well, maybe not reality TV).  Letting that sort of thing work its way up to the CDC undermines whatever legitimate perspective there is to be had on situations that we wish were only fictional.  Rather than addressing such in any meaningful way, the ‘Gawkers’ simply compartmentalize it as colorful wallpaper.

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