Contributing author Alfredo Torres is an adjunct professor of communications at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA where he wrote his master’s thesis on the metaphoric representation of zombies in the films of George Romero.

How pop culture will get us all killed. (Part 5)

We see them everywhere. They are all over the internet. They have websites and Facebook pages and podcasts. Their books rack up sales on Amazon. And every comic and Sci-Fi convention features them as guest speakers, or as a part of a special panel.

They are the “zombie experts.” And they build their reputation by giving us advice on everything; from the best weapon to the best techniques to survive a zombie apocalypse.

Now of course you guys are saying “Well, look who’s talking… Mr. Zombie-thesis-writing, hosts-his-own-zombie-podcast!” But the difference is that I don’t consider myself a “zombie expert.” I consider myself a zombie enthusiast. You see, no one can really be an expert in something that doesn’t currently exist.

We have great people here at the Zombie Research Society who are all experts in their particular field. And they use that expertise to try to solve the zombie puzzle. But I would not consider them experts in zombies. However, there are zombie-related areas in which you can develop an expertise. And that is where I will try separate those who excel in a field versus those who think they are experts.

Zombie Films: This expert has extensive knowledge of the various types of zombie cinema. They are well versed in the film history of Romero, Fulci and O’Bannon. They understand the contributions of the Italian era of the late seventies, and the numerous types of onscreen portrayal of zombies (i.e. Nazi Zombies, Voodoo Zombies, etc.)

Zombie Survival: These experts are not zombie experts per se; they tend to be better versed in the art of surviving the collapse of civilization. They understand what plants are edible and how to start a fire with two sticks of wood. They can collect water and keep themselves warm on a cold night. These types of skills are incredibly useful, but don’t necessarily have anything to do with zombies.

Zombie Pop Culture: This zombie expert tends to mash together everything that pop culture has incorporated into the zombie mythos. These are the chainsaw welding, multi-gun carrying, shoot the brain-eating zombies in the head type experts. They are the ones who write blogs and have podcasts (that really does sound like me, doesn’t it?)

Zombie Authors: These guys contribute the most to the genre, in my opinion. Self-published authors and horror-centric publishing companies, such as Permuted Press, have given voice to incredibly imaginative minds that are only limited by the number of pages they want to write… and the deadlines imposed on them.

Of course, there are a couple other areas such as video games and comic books; where you can study the history, key players and other inside information. But the reality is that you are not an expert. There is no such thing as a “zombie expert.” It really is just a matter of taste and opinion. At least until the dead begin to walk again… then I have a feeling a lot of enthusiast like myself will become experts pretty quick!

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