Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Zombies versus C.H.U.D's

Yo, ya’ll ever seen C.H.U.D.? 1984, I was ten years old and Cannibalistic humanoid underground dwellers were the scariest things ever. I mean the name says I all. How are you not going to be afraid of people living underground trying to eat you? Whatever Whatever, I’m a grown ass man now. I am not afraid of creatures living in the sewers. Partially because I’m in Oakland and don’t have shit to worry about from sewers. Well on Friday I saw the Descent. Great movie about a bunch of white women who explore a previously unexplored cave only to find, guess what? C.H.U.D.’s! Now they didn’t call them C.H.U.D.’s, but I know a C.H.U.D when I see one.

Still, I’m not tripping. I’m all “Just a movie.” Then almost immediately after what do I do but take my black ass river rafting at Shingle Springs. Do you have any idea the lack of melanin up there? It’s intense! But still, I’m chillin, until the sun goes down. Then I sleep in the car.

Now many people may laugh at my fear of C.H.U.D.’s. But I’d like to make argument as to why my fear of C.H.U.D’S’ is no more trite than many white people’s fear of Zombies. Look, if I can’t go there on this blog, then where can I take this?

O.K. so let’s start with the Zombie. Pre Romero and the fun 50’s zombie crew, Zombies exist in a cultural context. Wronged individuals are tricked into absorbing a powder created by a bokor, or bad magic man. The powder contains powdered glass, buffer toxin from toads, puffer fish toxins, and a bunch of other stuff that makes the body’s heart and respiratory rates drop to death like tempos, yet the person is still alive and conscious. Think pre pharmaceutical company roofies. The person appears dead, they are treated as such, and buried alive. The person solely becomes able to move and think again but is severely traumatized. The Bokor, who knows how long the Zombie roofie lasts, digs up his victim, whips them into submission, sometimes with a whip that contains a milder version of the zombie powder, and the victim is conditioned to do whatever the bokor tells them for fear of a second death. Operant conditioning at its worst equals zombies.

Now me, I’ve got no problem with Zombies. You see Zombies arrive within a cultural context. Peep the book, and not the movie, The serpent and the rainbow for a fully fleshed out version of what I laid out above. Zombies are just tragic ass folk who got screwed. Happens everyday. One might even say it’s a black experience to have someone try to zombify you. Yet and still, there is a bokor, there are other zombies, there is a tradition for it, it can be understood in terms of humans interacting with humans.

As for the Zombie flicks, I think the notion of half dead half alive flesh eaters who infect those who they bite taps more into a primal fear of the Hoard than anything in particular with the Haitian ritualistic magic practice. All hoards are scary. All hoards don’t care about the individual, and all hoards threaten to take over those that don’t join it. So sorry, 28 days later, Dawn of the Dead, and all the others, I like you but you didn’t scare me.

Now, C.H.U.D.’s. Ok, first off you have to get past the visuals from the 1984 movie and work strictly with the name.

Cannibalistic-They eat their own. Why would anything, especially something human(oid) eat its own? Well Richard Diamond in Guns, Germs, and Steel (great book for black people to read by the way. Don’t watch the P.B.S. version, it sucked much ass and looked hella racist) makes the point that our recorded instances of cannibalism happen usually when humans are cut off from other sources of protein. Yet most of recorded history sees cannibalism as a highly ritualized practice. Rare exception being those people on that plane that crashed in the Andes and just needed a leg bone.

- Notice, not human but rather humanoid. Now what is a humanoid? Well, it’s a creature that has human features. But the term leaves a question mark as to whether it is actually human. So if a C.H.U.D. eats a human is that cannibalism or is it only if it eats another C.H.U.D.? Questions abound. What’s more, what made the C.H.U.D change from human to humanoid? Again was it the cannibalism or perhaps it had something to do with its zip code.

-How can people/humanoids living underground not scare the living shit out of you? Whether its New York or Shingle Springs California, if something lives underground that means it’s more resourceful than the people above ground. It means it doesn’t need light, sun, warmth, or expansive space to survive. Living underground makes the C.H.U.D more adaptable than the surface dweller. Didn’t H.G. wells prove that in the Time Machine? Above ground the peaceful Eloi lived like hippy children on permanent Benzedrine dreams. Below ground the C.H.U.D. like Morlocks made soup out of the RiRis. C.H.U.D.’s are the modern day progenitors of the Morlocks.

Dwellers-Not only do they party underground, they live underground. They’ve gone one step beyond those freaks from the Hills have eyes. They’re not just separated from reality; they’ve got a whole new hegemony going on that is the binary opposite of all surface dwellers. They’ve got their own orientation that privileges a completely different lifestyle from dwelling to foodstuffs. Plus they’re more adaptable…Come on black people do I have to make it any clearer?


The same way Africans were met by a bunch of diseased pale individuals who couldn’t tolerate the sun, lived in an entirely different cultural context, and took them away for Lord only knew what purpose, so too do C.H.U.D’s tap into my unconscious fear of the process repeating itself. Only this time, it won’t be superior technology that overwhelms one race, but superior adaptability that will make high caloric protein bars out of those that use the surface of the planet! I mean come on; it’s getting hotter, despite what George Bush says. Where are we all gonna go but underground? And how long before we run out of food? And how long before we start doing what humans always do, adapt? I’m afraid of C.H.U.D’s because they’re practical.

If you think I’m crazy now, wait till I get to posting my analysis of “The people under the stairs.” One word, hyperWhiteness


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4:53 PM  
Blogger www.zombie-nation.net said...

Nice topic, I just added CHUD to my rental list last night. I'd been looking for it for a long time.

6:46 PM  
Blogger Conseula said...

Dude, you crack me up. I've never seen C.H.U.D. Now Ihave to go out and get it. Zombies still freak me out though. They're dead, but not dead. They hobble along on unbended legs and still stay two steps behind you. And you kill them with a bullet to the brain. Do you know how good a shot you have to be to be to do that? Freaky.

8:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ha nice! I basically could have written this but I am glad you did cause you hit all the points nicely!!

the only thing I take issue with is that the Descent came out a few years back and is available on DVD. I have not seen it yet but I have this aversion to Hollywood re-releases....like the Grudge, Ring, etc (and now Pulse too!) I always like to view the source if possible. I don't know how the two versions differ but I bet its safe to say the MPAA dumbed down the USA theatrical release from the original film.

anyway, nice post...duppie busting is my thing so I its always good to see others with "zombie awareness"!



3:38 PM  

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