This is the End and After Earth already came out this summer and now World War Z joins them this weekend. So it’s a good time to put on your tin-foil hat and hunker down in the bunker with some popcorn. It also reminds me of how much apocalypse movies can also teach us about life before death. Here are some things that I’ve learned from previous zombie movies that I hope to impart on the next wave of straggling survivors, whichever apocalypse came for them this summer.
Shaun of the Dead: This is going to sound like bad advice, but it’s never a bad time to work out your friendship issues.
Sometimes life throws everything at you at once. Relationship woes, friendship tensions, and a global zombie apocalypse. But pushing one thing to the back of your mind so you can focus on the others will not make the problem go away, and it’s the seemingly little things in life that tend to snowball into a massive meltdown just as much as — sometimes more than — the biggest, scariest problems you’re facing. The truth is, if it’s causing you intense emotional distress, it’s probably inhibiting you from working on any of your problems effectively. So if you’re barricaded inside your favorite pub while a horde of undead brain-eaters crowds in on you, don’t feel guilty or weird about having a discussion about something in your friendship that’s been on your mind recently. Once you clear the air, you might find that a great weight has been lifted from your mind and you’ll be more ready, emotionally, to stand up and shoot every undead face you see with a sawed-off shotgun.
Okay, that’s the silly version, but it is real advice. Often, we add a lot to our own emotional distress by telling ourselves that now is not a good time to try to work things out, or we just have too much going on to spare a moment for own own emotional wellbeing or the health of our friendships. Maybe you or a family member is gravely ill, or you just lost your job, or another big event just overturned your life, and while you were absorbed with grappling with that situation, you didn’t take the time or energy to tend to your everyday emotional needs. Those needs are important, though, and if you neglect them, everything else will suffer, too.
Zombieland: This is going to sound like bad advice, but sometimes doing the thing that seems like a horrible idea turns out to be a great idea.
You’re only an IBS-suffering, weak-armed fool if you tell yourself you’re one. In Zombieland, we see Woody Harrelson’s brash character Tallahassee gradually reveal his vulnerability while wimpy Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) gets over his and learns how to grow some confidence and save the day. And he does it by doing something completely stupid. I wouldn’t recommend putting your life on the line, but if you’re unhappy with yourself and your life, one way to turn things around is to embrace the unknown: to take a chance on something you might never have imagined enjoying.
Maybe that’s a really long road trip, or taking a random arts class, or going to an activity with your friends that you normally would have stayed at home through. If a part of you groans and says, “Ugh, I couldn’t possibly enjoy this, I’d much rather stay at home,” challenge yourself, and ask yourself why. If you’re stuck in a rut, that’s probably how you got here. Maybe you’ll wind up with a pile of bad experiences, but part of getting out of your rut is also developing the sense of humor to laugh at them instead of dwelling on how miserable they were.
Second lesson: hoard Twinkies.
BioZombie: This is great advice: check out Hong Kong cinema.
I love this one. Remember, more than Brits and Americans can turn out an entertaining zombie flick.
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