On gossipping, ‘fitting in’ and… Zombies

To me, any movie or videogame that features zombies is automatically 50% more enjoyable. Dawn of the Dead, Resident Evil, The Last of Us… I love it. So I gave the movie ‘Detention of the Dead’ a try yesterday, not expecting much of it. It’s definitely a B-movie, a horror-esque comedy that follows six high schoolers who are in detention when the zombie apocalypse breaks out. Barring a few retarded scenes, I was pleasantly surprised by some hilarious gags, huge amounts of clichés and references to other movies and a few attempts at profound pseudo-philosophical insights into life. Like this little gem, from Willow (goth girl), Janet (popular cheerleader) and Ash (useless stoner).

 

Willow: "Everyone in this school knows you've got a mouth that could suck-start a jet engine."  Janet: "You boys get to chase every ass in tight jeans but I do what it takes to satisfy my boyfriend and I'm a slut?" Ash: "Pretty much."
Willow: “Everyone in this school knows you’ve got a mouth that could suck-start a jet engine.”
Janet: “You boys get to chase every ass in tight jeans but I do what it takes to satisfy my boyfriend and I’m a slut?”
Ash: “Pretty much.”

 

I guess that’s one of the best examples of cliché, hilarity and commentary on human behavior all at once in this movie, but there was another quote that I found interesting.

“You’re just like the rest of these idiots. You were a bunch of mindless zombies before any of this happened. Trying so hard to fit into their little clique. Trying so hard to hide anything that might make them stand out. God forbid we don’t all fit into this cookie cutter mold that everyone puts us in. You’d die for one night with Janet. Not because you love her or that you care for her. Just because she’s what everybody tells you you should strive for.” – Willow

If you lift weights, you’re narcissistic.
If you don’t have a job, you’re lazy.
If you don’t listen to mainstream music, you’re weird.
If you show cleavage, you’re an attention whore.
If you don’t drink alcohol, you’re no fun.
If you’re a christian, you’re close-minded.
If you’re a nude model, you have no self respect.
If you’re an only child, you’re spoiled.

It’s an endless list, and all the silly prejudices, judgments and expectations obviously differ, depending on your social circle and where you live. In Detention of the Dead, things were from the perspective of teenagers suffering from peer pressure, but these things stay for a lot longer than that angsty rollercoaster period of our lives. I’m 26 now, usually hang out with people that are 20-35 or so, and I can’t say I see much less drama, gossip, judging and other retarded stuff than 10 years ago when I was in high school. I’m occasionally guilty of this as well, even if I try not to. I have a few basic principles that I try to stick to, to avoid getting dragged into all that bullshit. A few examples off the top of my head;

  • Don’t say bad things about my friends that I have not said or will not say to them.
  • Don’t let people badmouth my friends in front of me.
  • The aforementioned points don’t apply when you’re discussing positive things. I have found that bashing people may feel good, but praising people feels a lot better.
  • Don’t waste my time and energy on people who put more effort into belittling people instead of growing into better people themselves.
  • Reconsider whether people are really worth my time if I wouldn’t want them around during a zombie apocalypse. (Seriously, remember the adage ‘Adversity reveals character’.)
  • Live and let live. It relates to something my mom always taught me, “If it makes you happy and you do your best not to hurt people, it’s probably fine.” Talking shit behind people’s backs and judging them for not fitting your expectations of ‘being normal’ is a pretty good way to hurt people.

Yes, there are probably countless exceptions to this, but if you have any intention to debate those, you’re missing the point of this whole post.

I don’t expect people to read this or watch Detention of the Dead and suddenly have an epiphany about being better people and not being backstabbers or cowardly shit-talkers anymore. To some extent we all do it and apparently psychologists have even tried to explain it because it’s so ridiculously prevalent among people. Frankly, I’m happy enough if people at least make an effort in not trying to bring other people down all the time. If I hear you  talking shit behind another person’s back all the time, who’s to say you don’t talk shit about me once my back is turned? To me, constantly judging and gossipping takes away from your reliability as a friend. I would not be eager to share my troubles (perhaps not even my help) with people that I would not trust fully.

I’d rather do things that are ‘not normal’ and take some good, honest criticism from reliable people than safely stay in the crowd and gossip along with others, making sure we don’t attract too much judgment from others. The constant judging and gossipping reinforce the whole “don’t stand out from the crowd” mentality. Comes with the territory, sure. Paul Carter from lift-run-bang.com recently wrote “As adults we should understand that criticism is part of the territory once you rise above the norm.” and I fully agree. But honesty should not be an excuse to be a dick.

 

“I won’t become a tool,  a puppet
My will to live against your world of zombies
I’ll never walk your way, whatever it may take” – from ‘Whatever it may take’ by Heaven Shall Burn