Neoliberal Nightmares or Fear of Terrorism? A response to Japhy Wilson´s Article

Ulrich Hamenstädt


Political scientists are increasingly interested in popular culture. Notably, films appear as reflections of social and political developments as well as mirrors of common ideologies and fears. In his article ‘Neoliberal Nightmares’, Japhy Wilson (2015) brings forward the argument that the increasing popularity of gothic themes like the zombie apocalypse, could be interpreted as a reaction towards the financial crises of 2008; according to his article, neoliberalism died but is risen from its crave, scary as it was and hungry for the consumption of human flesh. This is a popular view on the current zombie hype and it is convincing at first. In contrast to Wilson´s view, this article highlights another interpretation of this hype: Zombies are the projection of international terrorism. Therefore this article argues that we are much more scared by things, which take our system into question than by the system itself. In doing so, this article argues, contrary to Wilson’s interpretation, that the zombies hype is part of a social and political anxiety from terrorism and not the anxiety due to the capitalist system. It will be also argued that fear is a recurrent topic in popular culture. ‘Zombies’ are an expression in a long tradition of fearful (international) events – like 9/11 – but also refer to the age of bio-political control.
Keywords: Zombies, popular culture, terrorism, bio-politics

Full Paper