MELISSA BLOCK, host:
Oscar nominations were announced today and we're, of course, all shocked to learn that one of the 10 nominees for best picture is Avatar. The movie features an entire world of computer generated human-like characters. It also got commentator Andrei Codrescu thinking about another, more familiar type of human-like movie character, the zombie.
ANDREI CODRESCU: There is a war for reality between zombies and creatures in Avatar. And you cant call a winner yet because the zombies are getting stronger and faster and allying themselves with vampires, ghouls and golems. While Avatars badger frogs, bearded cats and Sooty Copper fritillaries are technically and generationally better motivated, the zombie advantage is that they have human roots in the rising dead of all religions. If they succeed in crossbreeding with vampires, who also have undead human roots, they will be practically unbeatable. Their notorious individual weakness will be diminished and it wouldnt take such vast numbers of them to knock over a few geeks with a talent for drawing. The creatures of Avatar have virtual, not human roots. They were born from quickly-breeding generations of computer-drawn creatures and their main strength is individuality. There job is to defend the post-humans we are becoming against the humans that we still are.
If zombies can create a human-rooted alliance of the undead, we should try to help them with all the human qualities we still possess: Generosity, spontaneity, absurdity, irrationality, inappropriate laughter, useless gestures, mythology, metaphysics and meaningless similations of meaning. Our help will give them courage and increase their numbers. With the help of vampires, they will be able to conceive illusions of immortality, not any insignificant weapon when you combine it with vamp sexuality.
Zombies arent sexy, lets face it. They need all the help they can get. The virtual creatures will also get stronger because we are rapidly losing our freedom of movement in real space while being pinned to the circuit boards of fascinatingly morphing art objects that are beautiful but not alive. Zombies and avatars are fighting for reality because they want to own it. In the very near future, whatever we call reality will be either at the service of zombies or microprocessors. With the undeads, we can keep a human spark - with the virtual, we are already history.
BLOCK: Andrei Codrescu edits "Exquisite Corpse: a Journal of Life and Letters" at corpse.org.
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