Zombies: More Humane than Humans?

Man and Monster, but who is who?

This post was originally published on my tumblr account. Visit for other short random snippets from my vantage.

I’ve been on this Zombie kick lately. I’m about to finish Max Brook’s World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War (2006) a multi-vocal narrative of life before, during, and after a global outbreak of the living dead. It’s a great read. Zombies allow me to fuse a childhood fascination with horror films and the supernatural with my academic interests of marginalized people in modern society.

A conversation with my Advisor about Will Smith’s I Am Legend (2007) prompted me to revisit my critique of the film as a narrowly articulated version of Richard Matheson’s novel of the same name. During an impromptu visit to Best Buy yesterday afternoon, I came across my opportunity to revisit the film and my critique picking up the Blu-Ray edition of Will Smith’s version intent on comparing the alternate ending against the novel’s storyline.

The first time I saw I Am Legend, parts of the film didn’t sit well with me. The film’s narration allowed the audience to sympathize with Robert Neville (and his canine companion, Samantha) while assuming the ‘zombies’ were one-dimensional characters set on Neville’s demise. Momentary cues in the film suggested that the ‘undead creatures’ possessed levels of intelligence and emotions similar to the average human. However, the film left their community unexplored. I was left wondering why the film-makers left this part out. It would’ve added an interesting layer to their relationship with Neville in the barren NY backdrop. Open plot lines in the film lead me to Richard Matheson’s version. Originally published in 1954, Matheson’s treatment of the post-apocalyptic society is noted as the influence for the modern Zombie film genre popularized by the work of George Romero.

The book satisfied my curiosity by making sense of the new community. While it is completely unfair to expect the film to live up to the one created in the mind while reading the text, the alternate ending was much more fulfilling and was actually the original ending to the film (Watch Alternate Ending Here). Apparently, it didn’t go over well with American test audiences so it was changed to Smith’s self-sacrifice in his home’s subterranean lab. I think Smith’s standoff with the infected group is more consistent with the novel’s vision of the relationship between the last known human on earth and the new breed of life. The new breed retains elements traditionally associated with humanity while the new monster is the one the audience identifies as most human.

Recently, I tweeted that “Zombies are scarier than vampires and werewolves bc they can’t be reasoned with and prompt us to act inhumanely with each other.” What happens to our sense of humanity when we refuse to treat others with respect and decency? These films and books serve as an examination of human social habits in the face of darkness. Pick one up the next time you get a chance and look for the story within the story.


The Privilege of Discourse: Re: Tim Wise’s ‘Tea Party’

Tim Wise, anti-racist activist, author of "White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son"

I recently read Tim Wise’s piece on the Tea Party. It’s an insightful piece on the politics of race in the United States and the privilege undergirding the ‘political’ activities of Tea Party members and supporters. A friend prompted me for my opinion of Wise’s comments and this is my brief response posted on my facebook wall:

I did a quick read of it. I agree with Tim’s analysis for the most part. There’s an air of entitlement embedded in Whiteness that promotes this kind of behavior [exhibited by the Tea Party and supporters]. The thought I had after I finished reading the piece: “Man, it’s kinda ironic that only a White guy can get away with saying these things.” If a Black person writes this piece, it could easily be dismissed as another racist rant from the Black left.

My point: Privilege exists even in terms of who gets to discuss White Privilege with any semblance of authority. White Privilege is a reality that Blacks have been aware of and been critical of for a very very long time now. In that sense, there’s nothing really new about what he’s saying. That doesn’t dismiss the importance of his message. However, White folks are the target of Tim’s messages. We just need more John Brown’s to broadcast the message.

There are my two cents on the piece. What do you think of Tim’s ideas? What do you think about the privilege of White Privilege?

My world at this moment

Items in my immediate workspace:

– ziploc bag of green seedless grapes

– a  fluorescent green 500ml water bottle purchased from Walmart. only 125ml of water left…

– Michel Foucault’s Discipline and Punish: Birth of the Prison

160GB silver iPod, “…when the music hits you, you feel no pain…” inscribed on the metallic rear

– a 4-year old journal with < 20 pages left, “Live Journal…Contents May Explode under Press-her” on the spine. I thought that was pretty clever

– The Source, April/May 2010 Green Edition with Meth, Raekwon, and Ghostface on the cover

– Blue G2 Pilot Pen, o.5 and a mechanical pencil

– Sporadically used Planner

– Electronic notebook for my smartpen filled with notes from a recent guest lecture

– Blackberry Curve 8520

– White MacBook, containing what feels like my life’s work even though I’ve only had it for 1 year, staring back at me with its bright screen and .5cm camera

– STM Convertible backpack that holds all of the aforementioned items securely on my back as I ride on a fixed-geared bike down Michigan Avenue towards Lansing…

back to work.

Wanda Sykes’ “Middle Seat” (re: Erykah’s “Window Seat”)

Internet blogs and twitterland have been buzzing for weeks since Erykah released the unconventional guerrilla-style music video for “Window Seat,” a single from her lastest melodic offering New Amerykah Part 2: The Return of the Ankh. Erykah’s  visual ‘evolution’ has offended, puzzled, and inspired folks. Comedian Wanda Sykes produced one of my favorite responses to Erykah’s piece. “Middle Seat” was recently revealed when Erykah appeared as a guest on the Wanda Sykes Show. Enjoy.

“I’ll wake you up when I have to peeee!” Wanda is a fool for this one.

currently playing:  Kanye West’s “Last Call”


I don’t know that I’ve ever been honest enough to bear myself to others. For this, Erykah is a shining example of vulnerability and fearlessness.

I’ll be at Flat Black and Circular Tuesday to pick up my copy of New Amerykah Pt 2.

Tattoos, Obama, SADness, Twitter, Grad School, Vampires, etc.

1. Outside of my own transgressions, I’ve found dating as a graduate student is challenging. I think dating is challenging at any point in life but success in graduate school (i.e. successfully completing multiple requirements to get your degree) requires a level of discipline and dedication that makes devoting time to another person a constant negotiation of priorities. It’s not impossible though. My education is my first love though and she a bad broad!

2. I think my challenges in graduate school (the academic part) have more to do with navigating department politics than the coursework.

3. Reading about gangs for my research has got me thinking about some of the guys I used to hang out with a lot when I was younger and how fortunate I was to find my way back to football in high school. Life might’ve been a bit different for me without the pigskin.

4. Contrary to some folks’ perception, President Obama is still a Black man in 2010 and he held his own in tonight’s State of the Union address. I liked many aspects of the vision he presented tonight but Congress has got to roll with him. Therein lies the challenge.

5. Going several days without direct sunlight can make you SAD. With that said, Michigan winters suck ass.

6. Sometimes, I hate that I can see your tweets.

7. Everybody is somebody else’s ex. Proceed with honesty, awareness, and maturity.

8. Vampires/Werewolves and end of the world/post-apocalyptic films are two movie trends that have consistently been featured in theaters over the last year. The Twilight series, Daybreakers, Wolfman,  2012, Book of Eli, The Road, and Avatar are some films that come to mind. The implicit and explicit social commentary in the films’ plotlines is interesting: access to healthcare (Daybreakers), race, genocide, colonialism, and imperialism (Avatar), environmentalism (The Road, Avatar again). On the other hand, I couldn’t tell you what can be extracted from the Twilight series but the Native Americans turning into werewolves was dope!

9. Speaking of movies, you should check out 500 Days of Summer if you haven’t already. Some would call it a chick flick but it’s worth a viewing because it doesn’t sell the fairytale. Dude got his heart broken in a real serious way. Good film about the reality of some male/female romantic relationships. And Tom’s dance break was classic.

10. I am Legend (the book) > I am Legend (the movie). Pick it up when you get a chance.

11. I started journaling again after a 6 month hiatus. Flipping through the pages, I found a list of things I wanted to do in the next 25 years written back in 2007. I have completed over half of them. Gotta write down some more goals.

12. European and  U.S.  governments send military personnel to Haiti. Cuba sends trained medical doctors. Cuba wins.

13. How do we (citizens of the US) find it so easy to unload our pockets to send relief to Haiti but have such a challenging time addressing the issues of the 3rd world spaces inside our borders?

14. I had the opportunity to be tattooed by famed Atlanta tattoo artist Miya Bailey. I’ll definitely be making a return trip to City of Ink the next time I’m back home. Dude is an awesome artist. Check his blog out when you get a chance.

Kermit the (Educated) Frog

As a child, I watched countless hours of programming on the Public Broadcasting Station designed to sharpen young minds. Reading Rainbow, Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, and Sesame Street were definitely my favorite shows. Perhaps one of the most memorable moments (3 pts for alliteration!) was Kermit the Frog’s rendition of the alphabet song. As I watch my godson grow (he’s 2 now), I want him to have a thirst for knowledge and an appreciation for education. So I sent this to his mother to play for him hoping it resonates with him as he learns his numbers and alphabet…and how to pee in the pot instead of on the floor.