Zombies: the Walking Dead


Zombie Walk in Porto Alegre, Brazil
Rodolpho Reis, via Flickr

Robin Basselin and Ryan Geertsma look at zombies in history and modern culture. These monsters have become more popular in films and television.

Transcript


Voice 1 

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Robin Basselin.

Voice 2 

And I’m Ryan Geertsma. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1 

Night has come. Shaun and Ed are hiding in a house. They look out the window. They are very frightened. They are as quiet as they can be. Noises come from the street outside. Something hits the window. Feet move against the surface of the street. Something makes a long, low noise. Shaun and Ed look at each other. They must get out of the house now. Shaun raises his weapon and prepares to attack. Shaun and Ed run out of the house. They are swinging their arms side to side. They are fighting a crowd of creatures. But these creatures are not animals or normal humans - they are zombies. These once dead human bodies have come back to life. And they want to eat Shaun and Ed!

Voice 2 

This story is from the recent British film Shaun of the Dead. It is a funny film about zombies. However, there are many kinds of zombie stories. And around the world, zombie stories, films and television programs are becoming more and more popular. Today’s Spotlight is on zombies.

Voice 1 

You may have read books or seen films about zombies. In modern stories, these creatures are often slow-moving and mindless. However, zombie stories are very old. And they have changed a lot over time.

Voice 2 

The idea of zombies developed within the voodoo religion. Voodoo began in West Africa. However, starting in the 17th century, slave traders captured many African people and brought them to North and South America. These West African slaves brought many of their voodoo beliefs with them. Belief in zombies is one example.

Voice 1 

Belief in zombies became particularly strong in the country of Haiti. In Haitian voodoo, beliefs about zombies are not like today’s ideas about zombies. Instead, a zombie in voodoo tradition is a dead human brought back to life by a magician, or a bokor. Once the zombie is back alive, the bokor uses the zombie as a slave. The bokor has full control over a zombie’s actions.

Voice 2 

Throughout Haitian history, many people have claimed to be zombies. In 1980, a man claimed to be Clarivus Narcisse. But Narcisse was a man who had died in 1962! The man said a bokor had brought him back to life as a zombie.

Voice 1 

Authorities questioned this man. Experts checked his medical records. He knew things about Clarivus Narcisse that no one else could know. He seemed to be the person he claimed to be. Some people believed he truly was a zombie. But other people were sure it could not be true.

Voice 2 

This event led Doctor Wade Davis to start the Zombie Project in 1982. Dr. Davis traveled to Haiti to research zombies in Haitian culture.

Voice 1 

Davis found that many bokors in Haiti used a special “zombie powder.” His theory was that this ground up dust contained drugs that made a person appear dead. Davis believed a bokor would rub the powder on a person’s skin. Then, everyone would think the person was dead.  The family would bury their family member. And later, the bokor would remove the body from the burial place. When the drug’s effect ended, the person would wake up. Then, they would think they were a zombie.

Voice 2 

Not all scientists agree with Davis’ research. However, one thing is clear from his study of Haitain zombies. Today’s popular zombie stories are very different from voodoo beliefs. For example, the zombies of popular culture are not slaves for magicians. Instead, they are slow-moving creatures who want to attack people.

Voice 1 

Many recent zombie stories are also about the idea of a “zombie apocalypse.” The zombie apocalypse is when the number of zombies grows very large, very fast. Zombies begin to take control of the world and destroy humans. Zombies in these stories do not become zombies by magic. Instead, many times the “zombie apocalypse” starts because of disease or radiation.

Voice 2 

Then the zombies spread through the world. Often, a zombie bites a healthy human. The human dies. Then he comes back to life, but  not like he was before. Now, the person is a zombie. He cannot think or feel or reason. He only has one thought: to eat humans. So he finds other humans to bite and eat, and those humans turn into zombies too.

Voice 1 

The most famous zombie film is probably Night of the Living Dead. George Romero wrote and directed this film in 1968. In his film, radiation from the planet Venus kills a large number of humans and turns them into zombies. These zombies then infect more people and create more zombies. Humans finally defeat the zombies. However, many people are killed in process.

Voice 2 

Today, there are many kinds of zombie stories. There are funny films like Shaun of the Dead. There are also frightening films - like the Japanese film Versus. Ideas and stories about zombies continue to grow and change. But what has not changed, is people’s interest in zombies. So what has kept people interested in zombies over all these years? And why are zombies popular across cultures and languages?

Voice 1 

Some experts believe it is because zombie stories struggle with common human questions - questions about the end of the world, questions about life after death, and even questions about a human’s ability to make their own life decisions. Experts believe we like zombies because we understand them. We understand what it is like to lose our individual spirit or soul.

Voice 2 

Christopher Moreman is an expert on the study of philosophy and religion at California State University in the United States. He wrote a news story for the Washington Post called “Why Do We Love Zombies?”  In it, he wrote,

Voice 3 

“The popularity of the zombie is because of our similarity to this creature without a soul…”

Voice 1 

However, Moreman does not think that people are hopeless creatures like zombies. Although some people are lost as zombies, many are not. Moreman also finds hope in zombies stories.  He explains,

Voice 3 

“What also continues in these stories is the idea that a world of zombies can be defeated. They can be defeated by individual acts and social responsibility.”

Voice 2 

What about you? Do you enjoy zombie stories? Do you think they are frightening or hopeful? Tell us what you think. You can email us at radio@radioenglish.com.

Voice 1 

The writer of this program was Dianna Anderson. The producer was Ryan Geertsma. The voices you heard were from the United States and the United Kingdom. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. You can also find Spotlight on Facebook and Twitter - just search for spotlightradio. This program is called, “Zombies: The Walking Dead.”

Question:

Do you like stories about monsters? If yes, what do you like about them? If no, why not?

Comments


Avatar Spotlight
Rain Bows
said on July 31, 2012

I’ve heard people talking about zombies a lot.
I never found that interesting, but this article makes it have some sense.
Thanks for sharing,
Sofía Miketta.
Manta-Ecuador.

Avatar Spotlight
Fern@ndo
said on September 16, 2013

I think there are lots of zombies everywhere in the world.  No matter the country, status, class, gender or whatever that the being is situated. Sometimes we are them. For tell truth, it is not hard to find a zombie, but a normal human being.

Avatar Spotlight
Dela
said on September 18, 2013

The zombie stories are frightening and hopeful too. The people across cultures and languages love the mystery, magic so they have kept interested in zombies. The films about these horrible creatures are considered to be still very popular, however, would someone imagine the zombies without soul, hope and reason are similar to humans? That’s excessive thought! This belief in magic created many years ago is interesting but no important in our common life.
Greetings

Avatar Spotlight
Hangcoi
said on September 18, 2013

I don’t believe that there are zombies. But I am frightened when watch that fiml. Zombies fiml is interesting, it’ make we feel curious…

Avatar Spotlight
emil
said on November 13, 2013

good story

Kaleb Kolaibi's avatar
Kaleb Kolaibi
said on June 08, 2016

Sometimes, I see the zombies films by TV but I dont like it because it ugly and unrealistic.
Respect

Severino Ramos da Silva's avatar
Severino Ramos da Silva
said on June 09, 2016

From: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) (Severino Ramos)
To: spotlight programme
Subject: answer to the questions above
Date: Thursday 09, June 2016
São Paulo SP Brazil

Dear Robin Basselin, Dianna Anderson, and Ryan Geertsma:

First of all, I want to thank you to bring us readers and learners of English more one important article. Thanks!
I am afraid of zombies and monsters. But, it is important to know about zombies so,  we know how to protect ourselves against zombies and monsters.
Yes, I do. They are frightening. I want to be kilometers of distance from zombies and monsters.
No, I do not enjoy stories about zombies and monsters but it is important to know so we know how to protect against them. Because, these types of creatures are souls that have not a bright lives in their second lives so, they are living in dark places.
However, these zombies and monters come from their places to frighten us. Also, these creatures were people who made a lot of bad things against another people when they were alive here in the Earth.
For that reason, they cannot get to have a piece of Peace in their second lives.
Therefore, I ask God to protect me against zombies , monsters, and another bad things because, I get home every night at 9:00 p.m from work.

Your regards,
Severino Ramos
Brazil