Concerning the Marxist Implications of Zombies and Vampires

by |
12/08/2009 4:31 PM |


“Vampires are monsters of the right; zombies are monsters of the left.” That is, vampires—charming aristocrats who give hickeys to the underclass women of their choice, willing or otherwise—represent the fear of “exploitation from above”, while zombies—sloppy herds who eat red meat and think brains are for eating—represent the fear of “overthrow from below.” It’s completely obvious once you think of it, which is why the article I’ve been summarizing, by Sam Leith of Prospect Magazine, doesn’t have to do much more than frame the class implications and list off things we already know.

Either because he hasn’t seen it or because it’d be gilding the lilly, Leith neglects to mention George A. Romero’s Land of the Dead, which makes the Marxist implications of the zombie explicit: they lumber towards, and eventually break into, the gated hierarchical city of the human elite. (One character, turning zombie, says, “I always wanted to see how the other half lives.”)

We’ll get more pageviews if I talk about Twilight here, right? Ok, after the jump.

By this class-conscious reading, Twilight, in which a young bourgeois woman yearns not just for sexual contact with a cuddly vampire, but to become one as well, is a particularly insidious domestication not just of rape fantasies (via regressive surrendered-wife sexual politics), but of blindly aspirational the-rich-are-better-than-you-and-I class envy.

In the Twilight series, vampires literally sparkle. In “Absolution,” by F. Scott Fitzgerald, meanwhile, a conflicted priest conflicted confesses:

“When a lot of people get together in the best places things go glimmering.”

(Fitzgerald originally intended “Absolution” to serve as a prologue to The Great Gatsby.)