Steve Brown

Wisdom from a zombie flick

Yes I am praying.   Yes I am furious at the Chi-com despots who covered this up and unleashed it on us.  Yes, I am sad at putting twenty people out of work yesterday in the hope of “flattening the curve”.   Yes I am grateful for a family I’d be happy to be locked up with, since I am. Yes, I am sad it looks like a friend now has “it”.    Yes, like you, I’ve become an amateur epidemiologist, bio-statistician, and economist.   And I am ticked off at not being able wear my daughter’s and my Purim costume, full hazmat suits with the “My Name Is” name tag reading אחש-וירוס, (Ahashu-virus) which seemed funny till it wasn’t.   Life has gotten too serious, too fast.  

As all this swirls around, I can’t help thinking about a Zombie film.   “World War Z”, whose dashing leading man, Brad Pitt, is a U.N. infectious disease wonk with a peculiarly broad range of  talents, ready, willing and able to chase a solution to the Zombie onslaught around a stricken world in search of a problem he believes is a pandemic.    

Horror flicks don’t appeal to me but I think I understand them.  The desire to be truly frightened reflects a human need to experience something larger than one’s self that is undeniably powerful yet unseen.   It’s the discount aisle version of the search for G-d, or a bromide that relieves the symptoms and leaves the cure open as an option of last resort.  

“World War Z” came out seven years ago and caused a minor stir by being the first major Hollywood film since “Exodus” in 1960 that dared to cast Israel in a positive light.  Israel vs. Zombies, with special effects and a two hundred million dollar budget? Count me in. Even though it was filmed in Malta, not Jerusalem, seeing Israelis portrayed as heroic was worth putting my horror film aversion aside and steeling myself for some popcorn-spilling blood-curdling.   The film had a large effect in making Israel look hip while earning a half a billion dollars.  It opened a door the BDS crowd wanted kept shut. Gal Gadot was still in high school when World War Z was filmed.  Did it pave her way?

Pitt had his hands full in the film.   It seemed really easy to catch a full-on case of the “Zekes”.    Social distancing was NOT something with which the Zombies’ ravenous appetites were compatible.  A gun-toting IDF soldier in Jerusalem, Israeli actress Daniella Kertesz, becomes the co-heroine of the film by giving Pitt a hand (ouch, spoiler alert).  In Israel, Pitt finds the seed of the solution to the deadly pandemic preserved by the building of walls.    The setting and the “walls” premise angered both liberal film goers, who seem to have a special contempt for walls securing borders and Arab film distributors alike, who shuddered at the presence a major star such as Brad Pitt forcing them to screen a film populated with Jews and Arabs living harmoniously together, set in Jerusalem.   

The wisdom I took from “World War Z”, besides the shameless product placement that shows just how refreshing an ice cold Pepsi can be when fighting off a Zombie apocalypse, is this line:     

Mother Nature is a serial killer. No one’s better. Or more creative. Like all serial killers, she can’t help the urge to want to get caught. What good are all those brilliant crimes if no one takes the credit? So she leaves crumbs.

I know our brilliant epidemiologists will crack the code and catch irascible old Mother Nature red handed.  The answers will not just be found in medicine, but our sacrifices as a society, isolating ourselves for the common good, and in economic and political solutions on the other side of this.  For those of us who find direction in the scriptures, I am reminded that this is what we signed up for. The fire, the flood, and that G-d will be with us through them. 

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;    And through the rivers, they will not overflow you.   When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched,   Nor will the flame burn you.” Isaiah 43.2

For those who only want to get as close as a horror flick to that fire and flood, I leave you with a line from Max Brook’s novel, which begs us to find our better nature, to ride this out bravely alone/together, with compassion and forbearance.     

“The monsters that rose from the dead, they are nothing compared to the ones we carry in our hearts

Propitiously, the sequel, WWZ2, was cancelled earlier this month.   I hope and pray that you and I will soon toast our liberation from the scourge of this pandemic, maybe with a frosty cold Pepsi.   


The film’s trailer –  

About the Author
Steve Brown is a registered architect and has headed an architecture, environmental design, and construction firm in the Philadelphia, PA area since 1985, whose recent work includes several Net Zero Energy projects.