Zombies And Consumerism In Romero's Dawn Of The Dead

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Romero intentionally targets consumer culture and capitalist economics by setting the majority of Dawn of the Dead in a shopping mall, using both the unusual setting and the symbolic zombies to offer a mordacious critique of contemporary 1970s American society (Bishop 2010: 234). Romero consciously draws the audience’s attention towards the relationship between zombies and consumerism (Bishop 2010: 234). The insatiable need to purchase, own, and consume has become so deeply ingrained in twentieth-century Americans that their reanimated corpses are relentlessly driven by the same instincts and needs. The metaphor is simple: Americans in the 1970s have become a kind of zombie already, slaves to the master of consumerism, and mindlessly migrating…show more content…
The zombies in the film seem to retain some memory of their human lives, as they are physically and inexorably attracted to the mall (Bishop 2010: 244). The zombies are drawn there by a subconscious memory; they somehow know they were once happy in such a place. This almost instinctual ‘‘drive to shop’’, as it were, is repeatedly emphasised by Romero, who shows the incompetent creatures pressed up against glass doors and windows, clamouring to get inside the shops and resume their earthly activities of consumption - their addiction for the place exists beyond death (Paffenroth 2006: 57). Dawn of the Dead emphasises the myth of mankind that presents commodities as the supreme goal of existence (Bishop 2010: 246). In a consumerist culture people cannot decide what to purchase, instead social standards decide what direction all have to follow. Individuals even in a state of zombification are looking for self-definition in the shopping mall. The commodity fetishism empowers the capitalist system and allows the individuals to live a utopian fantasy of autonomy (Bishop 2010: 247). People believe that they are free when they buy an object of their desire. However, in a sense they indirectly fall victims of exploitation, which is the purpose of the bourgeoise (Bishop 2010: 247). Just as zombies never satisfy their appetite for human flesh, consumers cannot restrain themselves from buying. People are unconscious of businesses that brain wash with propaganda to exploit consumers into buying merchandise (Bishop 2010: 248). Thus on a purely metonymical level, the zombies represent the existing horrors of a society brainwashed by the capitalistic need to

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