Reputable Influencer


A little over a year ago, my buddy Rob Walker wrote an article about word-of-mouth or “buzz” marketing, in which people recommend commercial products to people — for free. In other words, they act as shills to their friends and loved ones just to feel “part” of something. Unfathomable.

So, last week I received an email out of the blue, from a movie studio rep who had come across my recent post about zombie flicks. Seems his company was putting out a (presumably) straight-to-DVD zombie flick, and, yep, he wanted me to help him. But this is the best part: having read my post, he labeled me a “reputable influencer.” Is that too awesome for words?!?

Anyway, without offering to show me the movie (let alone compensate me in any way), he asked me to plug the flick on my blog. He didn’t respond to my request for clarification, so… Sorry, guy.

I guess I’m just an asshole — a Reputable Influencer Asshole.

Think I should print up T-shirts?

Zombies and Planning for the Apocalypse


I was never a horror movie fan as a kid, but lately I’ve become attracted to them, specifically to zombie movies. I’d seen George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead some years ago, but recently I took in the sequels Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead. I also saw two British takes on the genre, the hilarious but gruesome Sean of the Dead and 28 Days Later. Oh yeah, and I caught a viewing of the low-budget classic, Evil Dead, tho’ I don’t know if that counts as a zombie flick.

I’m very interested in the use of zombies as a societal metaphor: about racism & xenophobia, about commercialism, and militarism. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, which takes place in a shopping mall, is particularly noteworthy in this regard. His films seem to strike that perfect balance of being straight-ahead horror and carrying a social message without being heavy-handed or didactic. And they’re weird as hell!

Obviously, recent events have put me in the zombie frame of mind: Y2K, 9/11, Islamic fundamentalism, George Bush, bird flu, and Hurricane Katrina, to name a few. I grew up in the 80s during the baroque era of the Cold War, fearful of mutually assured destruction and nuclear winter — but I was never as afraid, or fatalistic, as I have felt in the last 5–6 years. 9/11 is what really set it off; I often feel like I have some form of PTSD because of that. But it’s the irrationality of the present moment that’s really scary. And zombies are the ultimate representation of irrationality.

Coincidentally, a couple of weeks ago, the New York Times ran a piece (in, of all places, the Sunday “Styles” section) all about how zombies are “hot” again. I thought the piece had some good observations about the phenomenon — and made me feel very “cutting edge”: