October 7, 2013 in Features

Coming soon in theaters: ‘Geezer Zombies’

John Kass Chicago Tribune
 
Associated Press photo

Zombies swarm the world in “World War Z.”
(Full-size photo)

“Geezer Zombies Devouring the Young” should be the biggest Hollywood hit of all time.

What? You haven’t seen it? Oh, well, too bad.

It is a generational horror flick, with hordes of predatory geezers, age 45 on up, running amok.

In this picture, the young have hope and youthful optimism.

But the old have cunning and superhuman strength, and their leaders will look surprisingly bipartisan, the spitting images of U.S. Sens. John McCain and Dick Durbin.

So it’s a guaranteed moneymaker. And that hit will prompt others, like “You Better Kill Anyone over 30, Before They Drink Your Blood.”

OK, sure, these might not be the best titles, but they will make oodles of cash, and why?

Because they are reality-based. And movies, like other popular art forms, reflect our cultural anxieties.

“I’d expand your thesis a bit,” said Ron Falzone, associate professor in the Department of Cinema Art and Science at Columbia College Chicago. “What we’re already seeing in current Hollywood movies, from ‘World War Z’ to ‘Elysium,’ is that the movies are about saying the problems are so great it’s best to wipe the slate clean and start all over again.

“That’s the core of ‘World War Z’: An epidemic wipes out everybody on the Earth. What’ll be left? The paramecium?”

When we were kids, America feared a communism takeover, and in movies, seed pods from another planet were used to take over the Earth. But that was eons ago, when many of us were ducking and covering in school, waiting for Khrushchev to drop the bomb.

If you’ve been following what’s going on in Washington these days, you see what’s coming: The future conflict isn’t partisan, it’s generational.

Establishment pols continue bickering over crumbs while refusing to do much about those fiscally ravenous and unsustainable entitlement programs like Medicare, Social Security and Obamacare.

And the young are encouraged to believe that those of both parties who spend and spend are compassionate – and therefore kind and cool. Unfortunately for them, the unsustainable federal spending is neither kind nor cool.

It will drain today’s teenagers and 20-somethings of vital nutrients, like cash and jobs. Among the young, unemployment rages, job prospects are poor, and many figure they’ll never own a home.

The new hit movies that will reflect their generational outrage might not be about the baby boomer undead and teenage zombie hunters. The evil ones could be the vampires of Wall Street or the stars of the smash hit “Demonic Winnebago Hippies.”

Falzone brought up a popular refrain of a bygone era, “Don’t trust anyone over 30,” a mantra of the ‘60s that became difficult to obey as the baby boomers seized power that they’ll never willingly relinquish.

“In the ‘60s and ‘70s, if you were under 30, you were right, and if you were over 30, you were wrong,” Falzone said. “Back then, there was the ability to demonize a group.”

But Hollywood can’t do that anymore, Falzone said. The young aren’t buying movie tickets as they once did.

“They’re going to have to come up with stories that have more layers, and it won’t be about strictly demonizing those who aren’t their core audience,” Falzone said.

“So you will see generational conflict, but it should be handled in a positive way. That’s pop art, like Hollywood. And you know the rule of Hollywood: Make them feel good when they leave the theater.”

I suppose audiences will exit the theater still tasting the popcorn, and they’ll have their pride intact, until they look at their finances and their status.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the poverty rate for children under age 18 in 2012 was 21.8 percent. The poverty rate for those 18 to 64 was 13.7 percent. And only 9.1 percent of those 65 and over were living under the poverty line.

Less than 50 years ago, nearly 30 percent of America’s elderly lived below the poverty line. No more. They’ve switched places with the young, and the young don’t get it yet. But they will. And if that’s not a recipe for conflict, I don’t know what is.

Can’t you see what’s coming?

When that reality finally smacks young people in the mouth, they won’t care that some old geezer once filled them with hope and change. They’ll feel rightly betrayed. And they’ll be angry.

Years ago, the fear was of overpopulation. The young (who are today’s geezers) were afraid that the oldsters had ruined the planet. And so “Soylent Green” was made.

Old folks who lived past their prime were encouraged to join suicide cults. They didn’t even have to bother with awkward talk of death panels or withdrawal of medical care. Instead, they went smiling into the beyond, with music and multimedia presentations of lovely meadows and lush fields, clean sunsets and mountains.

Then they were processed into tasty crackers called “Soylent Green” to feed the young.

“Soylent Green is people!” shrieked Charlton Heston. “It’s people!”

And it’s people who are devoured in “Geezer Zombies.” They just don’t know it yet.


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