ZOMBIE PREPAREDNESS ISN’T REALLY A JOKE IN KANSAS
by Todd Hartley
You know how sometimes things start off as a joke but then over time people start to take them seriously? (Just for the record: No, I am not referring to any 2016 Republican presidential candidates, although I easily could be.)
One of the best examples I can think of is the “five-second rule.” I always assumed that when people dropped food on the floor, picked it up, declared, “five-second rule!” and then ate the food, they were just kidding around. But when, years later, scientists had to release studies proving that germs could get on food in less than five seconds, it dawned on me that there were people who actually believed the five-second rule was a real thing. That’s awesome.
Another recent phenomenon that seems to be following a similar trajectory is the idea of a “zombie apocalypse.” I wasn’t alive in 1968 when the first modern zombie movie, “Night of the Living Dead,” came out, but I get the feeling people back then accepted it as a work of fiction and weren’t concerned that it was some premonition of the future.
Nowadays, however, I’m not so sure about some people’s ability to separate zombie fact from zombie fiction. The only fact that exists about zombies is that there are no such things as zombies. I thought that was the one thing we could all agree upon. But between all the movies and TV shows these days dealing with the walking dead, I get the sense that there are a lot of folks out there who truly believe the Earth will one day be overrun by dead people who have come back to life.
The latest entity to get swept up in zombie hysteria is the state of Kansas, which has officially proclaimed this October to be Zombie Preparedness Month. Citizens are supposed to use this month to make sure they’re prepared in the event of a zombie apocalypse. I can’t imagine what advice Kansas is giving its citizens to help them flee from zombie hordes, but I’m going to guess it doesn’t involve climbing trees.
Gov. Sam Brownback and other state officials were quick to remind Kansans that the whole idea is supposed to be a joke. The point, they said, was to “get people on board with emergency preparedness. … If you’re equipped to handle the zombie apocalypse, then you’re prepared for tornadoes, severe storms, fire and any other natural disaster Kansas usually faces.”
This, of course, begs the question: Had Dorothy been prepared for the zombie apocalypse, would there have been a “Wizard of Oz”? I posit that there would have been, but not until the ’60s, when LSD was a thing.
Now, to rational people such as yourselves, it might seem as though Kansas officials’ reminder that this is all in jest isn’t really necessary. The fact that zombies don’t exist, you might assume, should be enough to reassure everyone that this isn’t entirely serious.
You might think that, but then you would be underestimating Kansas.
If Kansas has a reputation — other than the flattest state — in my mind it would be as the most religious state. I know that other states have higher rates of weekly churchgoers, but it seems like every time there’s news out of Kansas (outside of tornadoes), it involves some movement to inject creationism into textbooks or limit abortion rights. And let’s not forget that Kansas is home to the Westboro Baptist Church, which is about the most fanatically religious thing in the Western Hemisphere.
Anyway, if we accept that Kansas is quite religious, I think we can go ahead and also assume — it being Kansas — that the predominant religion is Christianity. That is, I think it’s a safe bet that most folks in Kansas follow the teachings of Jesus Christ in some way.
Why does this matter? Well, if we, who consider ourselves rational people, think that believing in zombies is irrational, then we kind of have to consider all Christians to be a little irrational.
I mean, I don’t want to belittle anyone’s religion or start a whole big thing, but isn’t Christianity based on zombie worship? Didn’t Jesus die and come back from the dead? That’s basically the definition. I just always assumed the guy was a zombie.
I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that — Frankenweenie was a nice zombie, too — but it might explain why a Christian from Kansas might need to be reassured that zombies aren’t really coming — well, unless it’s the second coming.
Todd Hartley saw Elvis on the Las Vegas Strip and is pretty sure he was a zombie, too.