Restored Humanity: A Carnivalesque Interpretation Of Zombies

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We have a never-ending fascination about zombies and the zombie culture.

We make movies about them like World War Z, Resident Evil, Walking Dead, etc. We even make games on zombie outbreaks.

860_TF_Zombie_Decay.png (860×460)

As plagues are something that might happen in real life, it’s important that representations of zombies be as real as much as possible.

There are so many interpretations about the zombie plague, including why and how it happens. For example, many consider Black Death as the first zombie plague ever to happen in history. So they use it to back up the history of a zombie plague.

In this article, we see zombie culture from a different perspective. Plagues, as it wipes out the population restores humanity, albeit destructively.


If we mention zombies, we picture the grotesque-looking corpses hungry for human flesh. This hasn’t changed drastically even today.

But the conception of zombies has slightly become less horrific than when it first appeared on the screen. Take, for example, the 2013 movie Warm Bodies.

Warm Bodies is a zombie comedy film with a different zombie perspective.

The plague created a division between the zombies and the humans. An unusual zombie named R (zombie) rescues a woman named Julie from another zombie.

From the names, it takes from the story of Romeo and Juliet who are from opposing “families” and yet embarks on a yet unusual relationship.

The story ends transforming a lifeless world uniting humans once again.


If we examine zombies from a cultural perspective, we can apply what’s called the “carnivalesque” theory which views any situation and compares it to a carnival.

The carnival in the middle ages is a festive celebration that performs pagan rituals and devil worships. If you get to observe a carnival in medieval times, there are some descriptive points you can make:

One, there are free interactions. People normally separated by hierarchies, enter a carnival square and become equal.

Without the preconceived divisions between each other, they can be free of inhibitions revealing the latent sides of human nature.

If you’ve ever heard of a festival in the medieval period called the Feast of the Fools, they mock bishops and kings and get them crowned. The low and high officials changed places.

This crowning of a fool entails the very own de-crowning of the king. The destruction is to create a renewal of society and of humanity itself.


The concept of carnival relates to the zombie culture almost perfectly.

Once bit by zombies, people forget who they were. They drift and become unconscious of what they look like. They turn eccentric and carnivalesque creatures. Zombie-like is how humans would act without preconceived concerns.

Here, there’s an ambivalent duality between zombies and humans. Ironically, humans fear of getting bitten. The zombie and human situation gives us the question, who is actually living?

Was it humans who are trapped in places that were once theirs? Or was it the zombies endlessly walking all over the city who are actually living?

A zombie itself is a profanation of humans. Like the king in a carnival, the humans are de-crowned and mocked by reversing its qualities.

The capacity of zombies turning into humans again is a realization that through the carnivalistic sense, the world can undergo a rebirth. Only the destruction of humanity can make it new again.

Zombie movies deliver such an idea that zombie outbreaks have become more than just a neurotic infection or disease but destruction alongside renewal and the reinvention of a chaotic world.

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