Friday, April 28, 2006


I like zombie movies. Heck, I like zombies. When the dead rise from the grave and start devouring humanity I say "Bring 'em on". I'm ready. I've done my homework. The most famous zombie movie is probably Night of the Living Dead by George Romero. I don't know if it's the first zombie movie, but it's the one that set the standard and established several "rules" that others follow. It was also supposed to be some deep critique on the consumer culture of the late '60s because it has zombies flocking to a mall.

The recent remake of Dawn of the Dead is my favorite zombie movie. It's not perfect, far from actually, but it is entertaining. I'm a simple man really. Dawn really just has a simple story about zombies attacking and killing people. There isn't some deep meaning to it. Or if there is no one tries to find it. That isn't so with Romero's latest, and hopefully final, foray into zombiedom.

Land of the Dead is supposed to be the final vision of the zombie world from Romero. It's entertaining enough. It has zombies. It has people. It has the former eating the latter, and the latter shooting the former. I can dig it. However, browsing through the comments and the forums on IMDB devoted to Land it seems that it is supposed to also be an updated critique on society. Watching it through the lens of "commentary on the war of terror" I suppose there are some scenes which could fit that bill. Dennis Hopper's scenery chewing monologue on how only he can save everyone. Some of "haves" and "have-nots" moments are obvious as well. But elevating it from cheap plot device, to "scathing critique" is giving a zombie movie way too much credit.

I'm not educated enough to be able to see these sorts of subtle commentaries. I'm too easily amused I suppose to observe the undercurrents that such entertainment provides. I think back on a lot of what's transpired since 9-11 and I think of a couple cultural things that were supposed to be scathing commentaries on society/Bush/America/WoT etc, and well, I just don't see it.

When Green Day's American Idiot was released I went out and got it. I'd been listening to the title track single on the radio, and it was entertaining enough. I know that Green Day is some punk band and that they're supposed to be this voice of disaffected youth and all that crap. I like the album, the song Jesus of Suburbia is a joy to listen to, but it's not something that makes me question the whole of society.

Incubus' release Crow Left of the Murder, and its released single Megalomaniac were obviously some attempt to make a commentary. But it's Incubus. I mean, c'mon... Incubus... I have a hard time accepting a call for Bush to step down from the band that did that ungoldy annoying Warning video.

The "scathing commentary" that I have to live with on a daily basis is Nine Inch Nails. I've been told that their album With Teeth is Trent Reznor's biting response about the usual "anti" list. He even refused to play the MTV Music Awards because they questioned whether he should perform one of their songs in front of an image of George Bush. I have NIN on my iPod. I like their music. I don't understand the meaning behind a lot of it because I've never really been a deeply disaffected teenager filled with hidden angst that no one understands. As a teenager I had my issues, I don't hide my angst, and not much about me is understood, just misinterpreted. But please, the only thing that Trent Reznor should be upset about it that he was in a band that covered Falco songs. Rock me Amadeus indeed.

What has happened to protest music? The 60's and 70's really did produce some damned awesome music. Lennon might have had less than brilliant taste in women, but "Imagine" is an awesome song. Its politics and worldview is naive, but it's still good music. I love A Perfect Circle, but even they couldn't do justice to it when they covered it. Much like the mass media I worry that protest music reached its peak in Vietnam. What passes for a "protest" song ain't that great nowadays, but at least it's trending up from 99 Red Balloons. I mean, honestly, if Truman had known that Germany would produce that song then maybe the Rhineland would have had the first atomic bomb dropped on them. It wouldn't have helped stop the war since it was already over in Europe, but at least it would have given Nena something legit to cry about.

It's my opinion that anything made with the intention of being a critique, commentary, or some other politically or ideology driven is usually doomed to miserable failure. There are some obvious exceptions of course, but these are but a handful in all of history. The stories that make me think and make me question are usually not ones that are patently designed to do so. I'm looking forward to seeing United 93. I don't know whether it will be any good, but it's the first major theatre release about 9-11, so at least it will be interesting.


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