the lady or the tiger?
Now listen -- this post about zombies is not so I have an excuse for putting up a picture of Milla Jovovich. Not at all. She is germane to my point today. Which is sympathy. How -- this is my plot problem -- do I find a way to humanize the zombies? I mean, they are gruesome and unintelligent and mildy risible -- and this makes them hard to like. The whole success of zombie video games is that you, the player, get to act out all your adolescent destructive fantasies. It's easier to fight an enemy who is dehumanised (many acts of wartime brutality are, at least in part, a way of dehumanising) and zombies, being pre-dehumanized, are the perfect enemy. Like orcs, only more satisfying to kill because they remind you more closely of your awful boss or your bratty sister.
And supposing I manage to re-humanize the zombies -- what then is the point of the book? Yes, I have a theme: we are all created beings, with life (sort of) and wants and aspirations. But I don't think my theme is a seller. I mean, no teenage boy is going to waste his sighs on a leaking, faceless, gibbering, piece of meat when he can stare at Milla Jovovich and sympathize about her. Yes, I said sympathize.
So do I give up on zombie sympathy? Do I have to put Milla or one of her ilk in the story? Maybe -- here's an idea -- maybe I can turn Milla into a zombie. Then the boy has a real dilemma in his hands. (Did I say in? I meant on.) Typically, the choice is between the door with the lady behind it, and the one with the tiger. But what if tiger and lady are the same?