The most fun thing about the zombie genre for me was always the fact that it was a dystopian version of our society, where the most caricatured versions of our humanity become the protagonists and survival depends on not caving into greed and selfishness. Unfortunately, fiction isn’t as entertaining when you see such stark evidence of dystopia in reality these days, such as White Supremacists in the White House, climate change, human rights being stripped away and the rise of propagandist media online, make the leap to apocalypse not quite so far at all.
On the 15th April, Notre Dame caught on fire, and the world watched on aghast, as such a culturally significant site, falling victim to such a devastating power. Immediately, billionaires and world leaders such as Donald Trump and Theresa May, pledged money to help, and there was even an online fund to donate to, and within twenty-four hours a staggering £1 billion in donations had been raised.
There’s a lot of things wrong with this in my eyes, and I’m sure a lot of other people’s, though. For starters, the fact that on the same night a fire broke out in Islam’s third holiest mosque, which is over 2000 years old, and the world’s media was silent. There were no huge fundraisers or billionaire pledges for Solomon’s Stables and that is so sad.
There is absolutely no need for billion dollar fund raising campaigns for Notre Dame, as the catholic church is worth an estimated $15 billion worldwide, and although the Parisian landmark is technically owned by the French government and it’s upkeep the Ministry of Culture’s responsibility; a 1905 ruling stated the church should be used ‘solely for the Roman Catholic rite’, so the Vatican should definitely bear some of the financial burden of it’s restoration. After all, they save so much money by not paying their child abuse victims …
It is also galling that Theresa May and Donald Trump are pledging money, since the people of Grenfell have not been rehomed or given proper compensation (despite millions being raised for the victims), and Flint, Michigan still doesn’t have clean drinking water. But, yeah, sure, rebuilding a foreign landmark takes precedence over actual human life.
Private billionaires have proved with this that they have the resources to solve a great deal of the world’s problem’s without even making a dent in their wealth. For an idea of just how rich an actual billionaire is, sixty seconds equals one minute, while one billion seconds equals just over thirty-one years.
The stark contrast of the widely publicised protests of the gilets jaunes, and the hypocrisy of the tax deductible donations for the same landmarks the rich balked at being taxed for, moving their wealth to tax havens, and applying for residencies in other regions to avoid paying back into their own healthcare, government facilities, public services, and amenities that they freely take advantage of.
The hypocrisy of capitalism will be its downfall, and the corporate branding of social issues and events like Notre Dame to advance their public profile, while ignoring real issues, like starvation, poverty, war and the ever growing gap between the haves and have nots is a true dystopian reality, that is worthy of any horror film.
Zombies as a metaphor for the collective delusion and herd like mentality of the capitalist model, and the mindless consumerism it promotes are the reason why these kinds of irredeemable, unsavable, monsters become much more popular in these austere times.
Based on a 2013 short of the same name, Cargo is the story of a father desperate to find safety for his family before the clock runs down. Guided by Thoomi, a young and fierce Aboriginal girl, they find themselves in a race against the inevitable as they navigate their way through the unforgiving landscape to journey’s end.
Cargo is film that isn’t getting much noise but deserves a lot more recognition, a zombie flick that never uses the ‘z’ word, and that feels fresh and interesting in a sea of same old, same old. Bleak and intense, the film makers have cleverly used the undead very sparingly throughout, focusing more on the relationships and human side of the threat of losing your loved ones.
Also, serving as a beautiful allegory about the disconnection of white Australia from the land, with the zombies draw parallels with our technology obsessed, media saturated society, while masterfully inverting the white saviour trope, Cargo is a modern day fable about racism, capitalism, and the ‘us vs them’ mentality prevailing when it comes to the indigenous people of so called ‘civilised’ societies.