Call for greater representation of ethnic and disability groups in zombie movies

zombie movies not adequately reflecting what goes on in the real world

The continuing popularity of horror films has prompted a leading social commentator to call for a more politically correct portrayal of the undead in zombie movies.

‘Even in undeath, there appears to be no escape from the social inequalities which plague ethnic minorities and those with disabilities throughout their lives,’ said Polly Toynbee, writing about vampire and zombie movies in her latest Guardian column. ‘Death is always said to be the ultimate equaliser, so why is this not recognised in film? And I’m sure I’m not the only one wondering where all the gay and transgender vampires are hiding.’

The problem is also acknowledged by award-winning director Tim Burton, whose new zombie film ‘Dark Shadows’ is scheduled for release next year. ‘The issue here is that the vast majority of the cinema-going public has grown up only being exposed to white able-bodied zombies. As a result, I just don’t think people are ready to see the hero of a film smashing the living hell out of an Asian learning-disabled zombie in a wheelchair.’

But Burton is keen to try and change audience perceptions. ‘We’re filming two versions of my next movie, and when the DVD is released it will come with the second version featuring disabled zombies. Although if I’m honest, the plot does suffer a bit. When the hero is cornered by a group of zombies on crutches, he just escapes down a flight of stairs before spending the rest of the movie hiding in a public library without wheelchair access.’

Others in the industry, though, are concerned that unless is it is handled sensitively, including themes of ethnicity and disability in zombie movies could lead to prejudices being reinforced. ‘I recently saw a movie set in the American deep south,’ said film critic Mark Kermode, ‘in which a rural community is terrorised by a gang of Afro-Carribean zombies. I just worry that some, seeing the scene where the white farmers chase the black zombies out of town brandishing pitchforks and torches, might get the wrong idea and assume it’s a documentary.’

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Posted: Oct 9th, 2010 by

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