What I have learnt from zombies

By James Beck

March 12 2015

The world as we know it has ended. Civilization has collapsed and you are one of the few survivors tasked with continuing the human race. Bunkered down in a half-destroyed building which you have fortified with corrugated iron you begin to recall your life pre-apocalypse. Back to before everyone you knew was turned into flesh-eating walking corpses. Before the earth was reduced to a lawless wasteland and before you were a skateboarding samurai sheriff who delivered justice with your bionic laser cannon arm.

These are the thoughts that keep me up at night and are the reason I practice Fruit Ninja with real fruit and a real sword. Surely I am not the only one who fantasizes about how I will survive once a meteor hits or the robots or aliens or zombies or screaming goats take over. Or a screaming robotic alien zombie goat that throws radioactive meteors takes over… maybe I am the only one who thinks about this stuff.

You could probably blame TV and you would probably be right. I have seen almost every film out there about the end of the world. I have learned that it’s not all just zombie slaying and Will Smith being a bad ass. Every doomsday survivor movie has the same generic scenes which can actually teach us lessons on how we could live better lives now. These are the things I would like to have told myself before becoming a zombie killing renegade with fantastic hair and an eye patch.

  • The ‘I never told you how much I love you’ scene. She is dying in a puddle of blood and goo. Some of it is hers and some of it who-knows-what. She is telling him to go while he still has a chance to flee but he decides to take this incredibly inconvenient time to monologue about his undying love for her. It is very dramatic and we all saw it coming so no one cares. You don’t have to wait until you are the last man on earth to realise who is important to you. Don’t be a chump and tell them how you feel already. Even if they don’t feel the same way at least you told them and who knows, they might feel the same way about you. Especially if it’s your mum.
  • In the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust, technology is always one of the first things to go. Suddenly everyone is struggling to make a fire and we go back to the glory days of the hunter-gatherer. You don’t want to be one of those guys fleeing from the alien attack going “Oh I wish I could Instagram this. Low-fi filter. Black border. @allen. #imgonnadielol. What’s really going to help you is skills. Get some. Being amazing at Guitar Hero won’t help you around the campfire when a fellow survivor passes you the guitar. You can’t just play “red red green blue red green whammy bar” and expect everyone to sing along. As far as video games have come they can never replace the skill set and experience you are rewarded with for actually going outside and doing stuff. Except for Black Ops Zombies. That could come in handy.
  • There is always the alcoholic who starts to sort out his life once he becomes responsible for the survival of himself and others. Sure he has his moments of weakness where he goes back to the bottle so that the viewers can get some overdue character insight. But he always beats his addiction and becomes the man he should have been. You don’t need to hit rock bottom before you deal with your issues. If you’ve got an addiction or phobia or anxiety disorder I really hope that you get help for that. You want to defeat those issues before trying to defeat an army of robots.
  • When human beings are facing extermination by invaders (be they undead or otherwise) the socially munted nerd becomes incredibly valuable to what is left of society. This crazy genius never realises their potential until the rules don’t apply anymore. They find the cure or they hack the mainframe or they upload a virus to the mothership with the help of Will Smith. It’s easy to assume that just because you were a cake decorator back in District 12 it means that you are going to die in the Hunger Games. Who would have thought that those skills could be used to create camouflage giving you and Catniss the edge you need to win. You need to realise that not everyone fits the mold of what we think “normal” is. Even if none of your friends appreciate your weirdness or your very particular set of skills don’t let it get you down. Just because you’re not mainstream doesn’t mean you’re not valuable.  You have potential. In fact you have things to contribute that many people don’t. The time to realise that is today.

When I’m fantasizing about this stuff I never lose. At times it’s tough. I might lose a limb, an eye and maybe a shoe. It is always a struggle especially when I’m battling a horde of zombies with the only weapon I could make at the time; half a jandal on a stick. But in the end I always ride off into the sunset on my pimped out chopper searching for a new beginning. You could probably blame TV for my optimism and you would be right because all of these movies are the same. What I’ve learned is that no matter how hard it is the human race survives.

Sometimes it seems as though there is no hope but people always find a way. In the midst of hoplessness remember that Will Smith punched an alien in the face. Even though we are not Will Smith and we don’t battle aliens we all have stuff we struggle with. It might be poor self esteem, or depression, or bad choices, or loneliness or regrets but if there is anything I’ve worked out it is this: You can punch those aliens in the face. What I am saying is that you can actually beat these things. You can win and when you do remember to stare into the camera and say something cool like “I came here to chew bubble gum and kick ass. And I’m all out of bubblegum”.

James Beck

Senior presenter and South Island coordinator, James Beck joined Attitude in 2007 with over two years’ experience working alongside young people. James’ interest in and engagement with youth culture (he an active member of three bands) is key to his ability to relate to a young audience. He is strongly motivated to help youth realise their full potential, and sincerely inspires them to do so. James has delivered presentations to over 200,000 young people nationwide.

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