Zombies In Film and Culture
Psychological and Sociological Explanations Behind A Survivor’s Compulsive Need to Escape Their Surroundings
The door slams shut as you force your weight against it. Two people whom you have never met before, merely joined during your sprint, grab the largest object in the room and wedge it in front of the door. A second later the fist of the undead outside pound on the door in attempts to get in. “We have to get out of here!” one of the others screams immediately. But why? It seems that whether it be a decrepit cabin in the woods or a home or a mall; nothing seems to be good enough for the survivors. Step one of a survival plan always seems to start with the word Escape. A casual movie buff may simply see a character’s reaction as an irrational snap decision, however, through a psychological and sociological examination, one can come to better understand of character’s pleas.
One cannot assume that the character just wishes to put distance between themselves and their attackers; especially not during a zombie apocalypse. Lets take a look at George A. Romeo’s 2004 Dawn of the Dead for a moment. The mall was well defended, surely had adequate food, and they were completely surrounded. Why attempt an escape to somewhere that was referred to as “…an island that for all we know doesn’t even exist.”?
The viewer must examine sever different aspect of the scenario that the characters are being put into. The environment itself is a large factor in the equation; also to be considered is the group dynamics and stresses that are arising. Finally, and perhaps more importantly, the risks. All of these factors of the situation in which the characters are placed can alone, or collectively, cause a people in any shelter to decide to leave.
Potentially the largest determining element of any long termed survival could be the environmental aspect. Setting aside the obvious insecurities of poor shelters, try to look at the other features someone would like in their dwellings. Imagine several different locations, all equally safe for argument’s sake, an office building, a mall, a school, a prison. Some options aren’t quite as appealing as others. These differences can be seen the best by using environmental psychology to understand what a groups wants within a shelter.
Someone can use environmental psychology to study an individual or a group in a social context by looking at the places where people are at and examining the perceptions, attitudes, evaluations and representations, and the accompanying behaviors (Kazdin 421). In almost any movie where the suggestion of getting out is brought up, we can look at some of the characters’ perceptions and attitudes to see that the location has fallen short of being perfect for the survivors. The environment is a relationship between individuals and their life spaces. That means not only should the environment provide us with all that we need to survive but also the spaces in which to appreciate, understand, and act to fulfill higher needs and aspirations (423).
This leads to the question then of; if we cannot look at it simply as a space to stay in, then how should we look at it? The answer is that a place is not simple an empty building or space; it is, but also it is an expression of an idea or of a culture. Made to be warm and encourage relaxation, or cold and sterile to promote work and organization (420). An office building is plain, organized, and open. The idea of an office is to have very little distraction away from the work. The coloring is usually white to keep from distracting the eye or drawing attachment by employees. Typically a person enjoys a place with more color and not as structured. A good example of this idea of attachment and welcome is seen in Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead, where they chose to go to a local bar call The Winchester mainly off of the fact that is was a...
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