The path of Joel and Ellie, the protagonists of “The Last Of Us”, a video game that will premiere its long-awaited serial adaptation next week, walks on the construction of affection in the midst of the apocalypse. To be more specific, we are talking about a pandemic (the game is from 2013) that produces a mutation that turns human beings into cannibals. Pandemics that turn a humanity without resources and defenseless into a zombie, it wants to sound like me.
Joel goes from considering Ellie a burden to identifying her as a human being. Someone who deserves to be cared for and protected. Ellie for the mature part of her trying to preserve what makes her human. The second installment of The Last Of Us He will tell us about his later life. Everything that happens outside of this scheme (which is a lot) is what makes The Last Of Us a milestone in the history of video games. From embodying in oneself as a player not so much the decisions of the characters but rather the execution of said decisions about which we have little or nothing to say, becoming a forced accomplice in a very harsh ecosystem on an emotional level, to the intricacies of a plot where hope seems to have evaporated. That is, perhaps, the basis of contemporary zombie stories. The dissolution of hope and its replacement by various forms of survival.
The zombie has always been an excellent container for the more or less thick social metaphor. Since The night of the Living Dead of George A. Romero until the successful series of comics and subsequent audiovisual success the walking dead. the bet of the walking dead, which ended last 20N (It’s not a joke, it’s a serendipity), is precisely to replace the concentrated social metaphor with an “intense long-term survival”. The initial hypothesis of the creator of the comic series, robert kirkman, was to consider what would happen if the zombie apocalypse spread without an apparent final horizon. The zombie game always gives us a hypothesis about our society and its response to the catastrophe. if in the walking dead they came to express out loud “The zombies are us” following that lousy habit of fiction today of exposing their themes out loud lest someone get lost, which makes The Last Of Us it is to give emotional tone and complexity to that idea of humanity as the rest and minority in a world that has transformed all emotion into hunger.
As I say, the zombie allows analogies of many kinds. From criticism of the consumer society in Zombie Party (Shawn of the dead in the original fabulous pun) to the angry waves of World War Z that have been used as a metaphor for migration in far-right campaigns. It is an elastic concept that usually points downwards. There aren’t many zombie aristocracy fictions. Zombies are a matter of majorities. Aristocratic minorities have always reserved the role of the vampire in the distribution of monsters.
In the last two years we have witnessed a first-rate production of zombie-images. I am talking about the two assaults on institutions carried out by the extreme right after two electoral processes in the US and in Brazil. Both with common elements and, again, serendipity in imaginaries and actions. Both with a certain collusion from parts of the State, both with vampire-leaders who ignore their zombie-masses when things get complicated. Both failed.
The zombie condition of these two political moments comes to me from the strange behavior of the people who participated in them once they had achieved their goal. The image of people wandering through the corridors of power, sitting in chairs reserved for deputies, shouting slogans that run out without anything happening, produce a kind of paralysis, a search for stopped time and well represent that kind of simplification of the world. whereby the seizure of a building physically is the seizure of power and how that idea evaporates before his eyes, immediately turning into a zombie all the furious enthusiasm behind it.
The enthusiasm itself was already a zombie enthusiasm. The zombification it is nothing more than the dissolution of the human to a single blind passion: hunger. Repetition and hunger in emotionally empty bodies is what defines a zombie. The zombies of our democracies have fed on fake news, which is not exactly lies, but rather apocalyptic accounts of the world. His voracious enthusiasm has been filled with apocalypse, with the defeat of the world. They believe that horrible times are coming, that political representatives have been replaced by monsters, that defenseless children are systematically raped in the basement of pizzerias, that the science that heals us is actually turning us into zombies, that the kingdom God has abandoned us, that the world is inhabited by perversions of the body in the form of trans people, women, gays, abortions, etc. The world they believe to save is an uninhabitable hell, pure apocalypse. In Brazil and the US, the connection between religious fundamentalism and the extreme right is perfectly investigated. They are zombies that deny the real problems we have to replace it with apocalyptic fictions.
Saying, however, “the zombies are them” does not solve the problem, even if it does describe it. Because in zombie stories the problem is never with the zombies. The zombies are the symptom of the problem. Zombies suffer, even if they don’t notice it. They are victims of it mcguffin on duty: a pandemic, a toxic spill, a bomb, etc. And the solution is always elsewhere. Just like the solution to these two assaults is elsewhere. Who promotes them? Who finances them? Who feeds them?
In short, to kill the zombies you have to look for the vampires and hunt them down. And in the meantime, learning with all his hardness the same thing that Ellie and Joel learn. That we only survive from zombies through affection, through the reconstruction of a social bond that has to take place in a world where zombification exists and is a threat, but also remembering that it is not the only one that exists. What’s more, it’s a minority. Sometimes, if we only see zombies, we forget everything else, which is where the exit is.