Zombies, Vampires and the Economy

Jack Flacco is proud to announce RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, the first book in the Ranger Martin series, will publish on October 22.

An economic theory of sorts caught my attention the other day I thought I’d share. The theory goes something like this: when the economy does well, zombies rule. When the economy flounders, vampires seize the reigns. What better way to add to my Monday Mayhem series than to introduce a discussion of money, zombies and vampires?

Pontypool
Pontypool

It started with an article I came across on one of these financial sites, on my way to explore for another post I was working on. Funny how these things work. Whenever I’m looking for something to supplement a current post, something else hits me square between the eyes to prevent me from completing my research. Nonetheless, I can see how the theory came to be.

I’m writing this as is, without much commentary. I’ll provide the examples (including movie posters) more as a guide, but you can draw your own conclusions. Suffice it to say, some daring economists have already written about this before, plotting the rise and fall of zombies and vampires against fluctuations in the Dow Jones Industrial average.

Here’s my take on the theory…

Zombies, by nature, consume anything and everything. They have no sense of self-restraint. If they see something consumable, they will eat it. Nothing in their path is safe. Every so often, they lay dormant, waiting for their next big feast. As sharks frenzy, so do zombies when they spot a sure thing. Whatever obstacle may block their path, they quickly dismantle. In large groups, zombies are unstoppable.

Warm Bodies
Warm Bodies

So is the zombie economic model. During a recovery, consumers freely purchase having no self-restraint. A new bike? Buy it. A new car. Buy it. A new house? Yep—buy it! Everything catches their eye as fair game. There may be lulls where they seem to have satisfied their cravings, but they’re waiting for the euphoria to catch again. And if it’s Black Friday or Bargain Tuesdays at the local electronics shop, look out. Nothing will stand in their way to get to that big screen TV. In groups, consumers can ravage a store in seconds.

Vampires, on the other hand, are subtle hunters, choosing deception as their ally. They crave blood. When they satisfy their craving, they recede into the shadows. The strong and weak is no match for their cunning. Patience is part of their nature. Once they spot a target, they will stalk it until the time is right for the kill. They appear as human but their innards make them soulless creatures.

Twilight
Twilight

And so is the vampire economy. When times are tough, consumers are a guilt-ridden, crafty lot, choosing to talk their way into a deal. They take a tally of how well they’re doing by how well they’re saving. Sticker price means nothing to them. If it says $10, they’ll negotiate for $9 hoping to get it for $9.50. Large companies, small shops, makes no difference. They’ll wait. A deal is bound to come their way. When they see it, they’ll move in for the kill. If someone else spots it, they’ll push their way to get there first. Even if it means spilling blood.

Supplemental Reading Material

Have you ever heard of this theory? What is it that makes it unique among other zombie theories?

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17 thoughts on “Zombies, Vampires and the Economy

  1. Ha, love this. I’m not a Vampire, because I HATE haggling. But I’m not a Zombie either, because I HATE spending money.
    Uh-oh. You’ve just created an identity crisis.

  2. The earlier zombie films, such as Dawn of the Dead, are totally a comment on consumerism – everyone, dead and undead, head straight for the mall. Your economic comparison is interesting as there have recently been a plethora of zombie films and tv shows, but we are hardly enjoying a boom at present. However, the taste for cheap, throwaway merchandise (fashion, electronics, etc) continues to grow – and sucks out their brains!

  3. This reminds me of an undergraduate paper someone turned in for a film class of mine. They used George Romero’s _Dawn of the Dead_ and its shopping mall as the typification of a kind of Zombie consumerism.

    • Although I didn’t turn in an undergraduate paper on zombie consumerism, I did study with those who seemed like all they did was spend their nights with zombies. I digress. I can see where the zombie fixation with human flesh and consumerism fits. Now if only someone would write a paper on the connection with Lestat and the French Revolution. Then we’ll have something awesome to discuss!

  4. I wonder if there’s also an issue here about social inclusion. Most vampire stories are about an elite group (the blood-suckers) who have things that us mere mortals might strive to want (immortality, eternal youth, riches, the ability to run up trees in a silly way etc). When the economy is doing well, people strive to become included in such elite groups, no matter what the personal cost to them, because of the benefits such inclusion brings. This means they see vampire stories as a parable for what they wish to achieve in such times.

    Zombies stories, in contrast, are about people fighting to maintain their own individuality against forces that might swallow them up and rob them of everything they are. When the economy is doing badly, more and more people will feel that they are having to struggle not to keep up with the elite, but just to keep their heads above water (financially speaking). If they don’t manage to do this, they risk exclusion from their own social group. If that happens, they fear they’ll lose everything that makes them them, and that to society, they will become little more than powerless ‘zombies’. This means they can equate themslves with those trying their best to survive against the zombie hordes in books and movies (and can gain comfort in the fact that at least their lives aren’t THAT bad!).

    Anyway, nice article Jack. Gets the old mental juices flowing on monday!

    • Yes, it could work both ways, too. In a bad economy zombies can be the unemployed looking for work, willing to take on anything, just as vampires can be consumers in good times who draw blood from the economy by only thinking about themselves.

      Good points, Colin!

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