Why Zombie Thrillers Don’t Entertain Us

BY JOSÉ CARLOS MARULANDA

I was recently reading a best-selling zombie thriller and realized that rather than providing me with entertainment, it badly recreated real stories my parents have told me about their persecution as political activists back in our home country.

It interests me that white people are entertained by zombie thrillers and the horror genre in general, be it “Stranger Things” on Netflix or the hundreds of best-selling zombie thrillers published every year. Horror is entertainment for them, while it’s a reality for the rest of the world.

One part of the book I was reading stood out for me: the main character hides out in an apartment block with zombies waiting for any sign of life to appear so they can attack. A description of unknown footsteps in the dark outside, a common theme in these type of stories, attempts to scare the reader.

After I read this, I pause and remember a story told to me by my mom and dad some time ago. My parents, siblings, two of my cousins and I were living in rural Colombia for some months while my dad taught in a local school and attempted to unionize peasant workers.

One night, some days after my dad’s friend had been murdered in a nearby town, footsteps were heard surrounding the farm. Boots pounded about in nearby bushes and trees. To my parents and those who were old enough to remember the event (I was only two years old), the footsteps signified imminent death. Our only defense was to take cover under the beds and wield a machete that was a lousy match to the powerful guns used by local paramilitaries.

Fortunately, the boots pounded around for a while but eventually left,  with gunshots firing in the distance. The next day, we were forced to leave our belongings and migrate back to our native city.

My parents have never been fond of horror movies, and only now I’m putting the pieces of the puzzle together.

There’s no entertainment value in themes that could trigger past traumas. Thankfully, myself and my siblings were spared from the horrific violence experienced by so many in our home country due to our parents’ migration to Europe. Although that brings with it its own traumas, that can be left for another day.

Horror movies and literature are activities that are usually attributed to white and Westernized people. To the rest of the world, I would argue, the horrors of capitalism-imperialism are enough.

Perhaps it’s time to make white people tremble for real.

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