What you need to know about the looming zombie apocalypse

Just in time for Halloween, IDEAS revisits pop culture’s love of zombies in a 2015 documentary by journalists Garth Mullins and Lisa Hale. What does the zombie as a metaphor say about us? Join us for a trip into the zombie apocalypse.

This 2015 documentary explores how the zombie has become a metaphor for all our apocalyptic fears

A scene from the AMC original series, The Walking Dead — a popular show that feeds pop culture's obsession with zombies. In his 2015 documentary, journalist Garth Mullins looks at why zombies are such a useful image, when imagining the end of the world. (AP Photo/AMC, Gene Page)

*This episode originally aired October 27, 2015.

Zombies continue to be zeitgeist — a moaning metaphor that encapsulates our fear of an apocalypse.

It's easy to imagine the end of the word: climate change, economic collapse, wildfire, pandemics ... (add your own to the list).

In 2015 on IDEAS, journalist Garth Mullins explored pop culture's zombie obsession and why it's so easy to imagine a future full of catastrophe and monsters. He spoke to several guests who shared their insight on possible future scenarios of the apocalypse to how to survive the end of the world.

Some say it's too late — and that the apocalypse started with colonization. Native Studies scholar Dr. Cutcha Risling Baldy said that Indigenous peoples have been facing the apocalypse for generations. For her nation, colonization was the end of the world and she sees parallels in The Walking Dead TV show

And for others, the apocalypse is already here. Afrofuturist sci-fi writer Nalo Hopkinson pointed to the catastrophic crisis people of colour face with unemployment, marginalization and deadly police violence.

Zombie preparedness

Years before the COVID pandemic, the American Centres for Disease Control (CDC) was warning of another kind of outbreak.
In 2016, the CDC put out a video to warn people of a zombie apocalypse, citing an increasing number of "gruesome, unexplained deaths."

"We've identified the perpetrators as difficult-to-kill, flesh-eating zombies. Ensure your community is prepared for a zombie apocalypse."

While the video was tongue-and-cheek as there was no threat of a zombie apocalypse at the time, the CDC was hoping to encourage people to prepare for the worst, by preparing for the zombies. They suggest on their website to assemble an emergency kit that includes water, food, medications, important documents and first aid supplies.

Rest assured, when the apocalypse does hit, the CDC is ready.

"If zombies did start roaming the streets, CDC would conduct an investigation much like any other disease outbreak. CDC would provide technical assistance to cities, states, or international partners dealing with a zombie infestation."

Listen to The Coming Zombie Apocalypse from the IDEAS archives by clicking the play button above. 

Guests in this episode:

Cutcha Risling Baldy is an associate professor and department chair of Native American Studies at Humboldt State University. 

Nalo Hopkinson is a professor of Creative Writing at the University of California Riverside

Brad Werner is a professor of geophysics and complex systems at the University of California, San Diego.

Thea Munster is the founder of the Toronto Zombie Walk.

Charles Demers is a Vancouver comedian.

Presented and produced by Garth Mullins
Co-written and produced by Lisa Hale
Ideas Producer: Dave Riddell
Score by Jacob Dryden, with Kai Paulson and Garth Mullins

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