King states that when we see a horror film, we are “daring the nightmare.” What does he mean by that?
King uses the metaphor of “emotional muscles” that need exercise. Some of these emotions are seen as positive in that they maintain civilization. What are some of the emotions that don’t maintain the social status quo, and why do they still need to be exercised?
King relies heavily on metaphors and allusions to create a humorous tone while making his argument. What is the advantage of approaching the topic of horror in this way?
Consider your own experience with horror films. Are you a fan of horror or not? If so, what about horror attracts you, and if not, what repels you? Now consider your response in light of King’s statement “We also go [to horror films] to re-establish our feelings of essential normality.” Does your response to horror connect to your feelings of normality? If so, how?
King argues that we have some emotions that are affirming of civilization and its norms and others that are not—or, “anticivilization emotions,” as he terms them. Identify and analyze how these negative emotions are “exercised” (to use King’s metaphor) in your own life experiences beyond watching horror films.
Compare King’s essay with Chuck Klosterman’s “My Zombie, Myself: Why Modern Life Feels Rather Undead.” How does Klosterman differ from King in his analysis of the need for horror in people’s lives? In what ways are the two in agreement? Explain your responses using specific textual support from both essays.
King reports that one critic said, “The Horror film has become the modern version of the public lynching.” King continues the metaphor when he claims, “The potential lyncher is in almost all of us.” Do some research on the history of lynching in the United States. After your research, argue whether the comparison between public lynching and horror films is either fair and accurate or overdone and exaggerated. Defend your response.
What are the inherent limitations of zombies, according to Klosterman? In what way do those limitations make zombies different from other monsters, such as vampires?
Klosterman writes, “When we think critically about monsters, we tend to classify them as personifications of what we fear.” What are those fears, and how does Klosterman connect them to specific monsters?
Klosterman quotes Alice Gregory as stating, “Opening Safari is an actively destructive decision. I am asking that consciousness be taken away from me.” What is Safari, and what does she mean by this?
Analyze the difference between the zombie as a monster and the vampire. What different fears do they represent, and how are those fears to be combated? What does the presence of the zombie in popular imagination say about people’s anxieties about modern life?
One metaphor that Klosterman uses is the computer, and in particular the Internet. Examine how zombies can be seen as a metaphor for the Internet. Based in your experience with the Internet, do you think this is an apt metaphor? Explain, using specific types of Web sites or other Internet functions to illustrate and support your answer.
Klosterman poses a key question in paragraph 6: “What if contemporary people are less interested in seeing depictions of their unconscious fears and more attracted to allegories of how their day-to-day existence feels?” If we are attracted to the zombie as an allegory for boring daily existence filled with repetitive, seemingly meaningless tasks, do these tasks prove more persistent and resilient than zombies? After all, Klosterman argues, “zombies are just as easy to kill,” but real-life tasks often are not. Give examples from everyday life to support your position.
Klosterman references several movie and television versions of the zombie myth: Night of the Living Dead (1968), World War Z (2013), and The Walking Dead (AMC). View at least one of these and argue whether his metaphor of zombies as incarnations of our daily challenges (e.g., “reading and deleting 400 work e-mails”) seems correct or not. Develop your response with specific examples from both Klosterman’s essay and the movie or television version of the zombie myth you viewed.