Zombie Cliche Lookout: The Zed Word
People in zombie stories, at least historically, have tended to avoid calling all those cannibalistic shambling corpses “zombies” for one unexplained reason or another. This was even turned into a great joke in Shaun of the Dead, wherein the characters briefly discussed calling them zombies, then opted to “not use the zed word”. However, the seeds of change appear to be in the air, and I’m reading more and more zombie fiction in which the characters are not only familiar with the term “zombie”, but also have no qualms about using it.
About this Episode:
The discussion of calling the zombies “zombies” has indeed happened before in the comic. It was just a brief setup with Stewart and Shannon discussion the subject before they met Clark (who jumped out from behind a tree with a spear just in time to kill a zed. However, I wanted to revisit it because, as I mentioned in the cliche lookout, I’m noticing this trope changing significantly in recent works. I find this quite interesting, and I’m not quite sure how to read it. I imagine a big part of it is that zombies are no sure a part of mainstream culture, it’s becoming harder to imagine characters not knowing what they are.
Discussion Question: Could You Use the Zed Word?
Let’s say that the people stopped staying dead, and that their suddenly reanimated corpses would get up and try to kill and eat the living. And let’s also say that the only way to really kill them was to destroy their brain. If you found yourself in this situation, do you think you could actually call them zombies, or do you think that you would have some sort of denial instinct that makes you dance around the word?