Dawn of the Different: The Mulatto Zombie in Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2012-08-02 02:45Z by Steven

Dawn of the Different: The Mulatto Zombie in Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead

The Journal of Popular Culture
Volume 45, Issue 3 (June 2012)
pages 551–571
DOI: 10.1111/j.1540-5931.2012.00944.x

Justin Ponder

WHILE ZOMBIE FILMS DO NOT BLATANTLY FOCUS ON miscegenation or mulattos, interracial themes abound in them. In George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (1968), Ben, a black man, saves Barbra, a white woman, from hordes of zombies. From this moment on, the film binds this interracial couple, casting them as partners attempting to survive the horrific attacks of the living dead. Cristina Isabel Pinedo (Recreational Terror: Women and the Pleasures of Horror Film Vieiwng) claims that “racial silence” is the film’s “structuring absence,” and this absence falls no more silent than the romance this interracial coupling implies (29). The film pairs the cantankerous and controlling Mr. Cooper with the long-suffering and submissive Mrs. Cooper while coupling the young, star-crossed lovers Tom and Judy. According to North American cinematic logic, one could safely assume that Ben and Barbra, the remaining adults, would fall in love by film’s end. While the late 60s might have been ready to see a black man save, protect, and even punch a white woman, the era apparently was not prepared to see him walk away hand-in-hand with her as innumerable zombies rise from the dead to keep Night’s black white couple from the normative romantic conclusion of North American cinema.

This romantic tension between black man and white woman continues in Romero’s 1978 Dawn of the Dead. The film focuses on four survivors: Fran, a resourceful news producer; Steve, a helicopter pilot and Fran’s lover; Roger, a S.W.A.T. team member; and Peter, a S.W.A.T. team member and the quartet’s only black man. Robin Wood (“Normality and Monsters: The Films of Larry Cohen and…

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