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Mariani argues that the popularity of the zombie in Western culture is actually a negative example of cultural appropriation, claiming:

“[T]he zombie myth has been widely appropriated by American pop culture in a way that whitewashes its origins—and turns the undead into a platform for escapist fantasy.”

  • Do you agree with Mariani’s concern about whitewashing? Is there a danger in borrowing from other cultures, when the original significance or context is lost in the process? Is it cultural appropriation, or a natural process of cultural syncretism (mixing)?
  • When Mariani discusses the “escapism” of contemporary depictions of zombies, he seems to directly indict an argument like the one Vlahos’ makes in his article on World War Z (which we read last week). Vlahos suggests that in zombie apocalypse literature, the zombies are not important, but rather the way humans (and Americans) ‘step up’ to the challenge they represent; Mariani argues that this is exactly why zombie stories, which used to be a potent vehicle for social critique, now encourage us to turn a blind eye to social problems and instead pat ourselves on the back for how great we are at surviving. Do you agree with one of these positions over the other? Why? (Or is there a third position you would advocate?)

???? Write a paragraph (100-300 words) responding to one or both of the questions above.

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