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I think I have a theory that just might explain why everything is undead right now.

Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about. True Blood is a critical success. Twilight has teenage girls fawning over men way too old for them. Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant has previews out before quality movies like District 9 (where everyone except some of the peripheral characters and the three main characters die–no spoiler alert necessary unless you don’t understand basic story structure). You know it’s a dying trend when The CW hops on the train too; they’ll be releasing The Vampire Diaries next month.

And if you think it stops with vampires, you are horrendously mistaken. The main antagonist in the Harry Potter movies will apparently take eight movies (and already took seven books) to die. The preview for Bruce Willis’ upcoming Surrogates seems to imply that technology will one day enable us to live our lives from our couch and not die. Well, that seems to be the case until they introduce the plot and someone starts killing surrogates and, oddly, the surrogates’ controllers start dying too. The preview for Sorority Row seems to imply that the girl who gets killed comes back to kill her friends for letting her get killed. But then, it’s a horror movie–which I hate–and all my basic horror movie structure training leads me believe that the killer is the guy who was tricked into killing her or the girl’s mother. But I digress. Pandorum looks like it’s about zombies in space. Terminator: Salvation was about a dude who thought he was a dude but was really a robot. Everyone went to see Funny People because they wanted to see Adam Sandler die–then he didn’t.

There are some more prerequisites to get out of the way before we get to the theory itself. People have always loved escapism. I’ve always loved escapism. Without it, Hollywood probably wouldn’t exist. Theaters couldn’t get away with charging $13 a ticket and people wouldn’t just download them if they didn’t provide hours of entertainment. However, escapism has skyrocketed recently. Everyone remembers hearing that almost a year ago video game purchases and movie ticket sales skyrocketed. It’s a recession and it makes perfect sense that everyone would start paying to get away from the usual news of assorted cardinal sins PLUS heightened job insecurity. Yet here’s the clincher–we want not only the escapism but to imagine escaping ourselves.

In the preview for Cirque du [Piece of Shit], the protagonist’s adventure begins when he starts yelling about how bored he is. He then goes to a circus where he decides that his life will be fun if he becomes undead (yet, for some reason, the villains want to kill him. He’s fucking undead). So life for this kid can only be fun if he’s immortal. And I think that’s what we all want, too.

It’s fun to imagine we’re invulnerable. That’s why I’ve always loved First-Person Shooter video games and yet always been terrified of actual guns. Guns kill people but when my avatar gets killed in Fall Out 3 I just reload. Infinitely enjoyable without the fear of death. Also, Fall Out 3 has become uncomfortably like the map in my head. The only parts of the map that I’m comfortable going to are areas where I’ve already been. The new places require extensive research and sometimes scouting missions–because I am afraid of dying. That may be an exaggeration; what I mean is, the ultimate fear when I travel is death, but all the intermediate fears–is this the right stop (how do I get home), is this the right day (is it light out, i.e, safe to travel), will I catch the transfer (are there feral ghouls in this subway), am I going to get to eat some chocolate (radroach meat) to calm my nerves (bring my AP back up), etc–are just tiny little fragments that remind me that I’m alive.

The goal, apparently, with these movies is to remind you that you’re alive without any of the fear of death. You can witness their undead-ness and enjoy your life. I mean, you probably don’t want to live vicariously through He-who-must-not-be-named but, when it is the villain who can’t die, it makes it exciting as well because you know that he will, ultimately die. Archetypes have trained you to believe that good will triumph and that the undead will go back to what they are supposed to be: FUCKING DEAD.

However, if you are taking joy living vicariously through the undead protagonist then, although I share your enthusiasm, we should probably stop this. We both know we’re not immortal and that we will never be undead. Perhaps the only way to be undead is to write something that people read even after you’re dead. In the mean time, once we get out of the theater, let’s continue the business of life–the recession will go away and, like my grandma says, “things’ll fall into place.” Also, I kind of just want vampire movies to go away–they’re not all that cool.

(Hey grand kids! I’m FUCKING DEAD. Hahaha.)

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