HOST: And welcome back to our second panel of the program, where we will discuss the enduring cultural presence and popularity of zombies. Joining me today are Dr. Thomas Urrrggghhh, chair of Undead Studies at the Manchester Underversity, Lydia Crowflame, a licensed resurrectionist with the American Zombie Association (AZA), and The Fleshsipper, and eldritch horror so far beyond mortal understanding that its very name is a whisper of madness on the tongues of the damned.

DR. URRRGGGHHH: Thank you, happy to be here.

MS. CROWFLAME: A pleasure.

THE FLESHSIPPER: Delightful as always.

HOST: First question, and this one is for you, Dr. Urrrggghhh. Do you think that representation of zombies in media, motion pictures especially, has improved from the days when the depiction of undead was forbidden by the Hays Code unless they were clearly evil and roundly destroyed as punishment?

DR. URRRGGGHHH: Well, we have and we haven’t. On the one hand, there are more positive depictions of zombies in films, and the entire genre of the zom-com. On the other hand, you have constant livewashing – can you name a single film featuring a speaking role for zombies that has cast an actual zombie actor?

MS. CROWFLAME: I’m reminded of a panel at Stardance about zombie films. Five living white guys up there onstage, because “no one could find a zombie filmmaker.” Until you have more undead filmmakers, more undead actors in lead roles, and more undead executives, this will keep happening. Less of a greenlight, more of a deadlight, you know?

THE FLESHSIPPER: The problem that keeps reoccurring is that zombies are seen as monolithic, with each one representing the whole, while the living are allowed to be individuals. The only true monolith is the enormity of a universe of beings that care only for universal entropy.

DR. URRRGGGHHH: I think you might find that eldritch beings are less monolithic than you think.

MS. CROWFLAME: That’s beside the point; eldritch beings that–if they ever lived–were made of no ordinary matter known to mortal ken are in a position of power and influence. So too are the living, vampires, and to a lesser extent wights and ghasts. Zombies are the other, the powerless other, in all of this.

THE FLESHSIPPER: I’m not arguing that, Lydia. Rather, I am suggesting that there are unseen and unwritten rules for those in power–like the wriggling tentacles of madness on a dark mind–that are silently and unconsciously obeyed. It may as well be a single organism, the Hollywood system, for all the conformity it enforces. Zombie culture is vibrant and varied, yet is obsessively reduced.

HOST: Do you think we’ll see this change in our lifetimes?

DR. URRRGGGHHH: That very phrase there is part of the problem. “Lifetimes?” What does that even mean to a properly risen undead?

MS. CROWFLAME: I’m going to be generous and assume you meant “existences.” I think…yes. Given what we’ve seen with other marginalized groups, once Hollywood realizes the market, they will tap into it.

THE FLESHSIPPER: Behind every mortal yet alive there are ten ghosts, and that is a powerful, untapped market. Sooner or later, we’ll start to see Hollywood try to appeal to this. The Chinese undead market especially.

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