Zombies, Geeks, & the Cerebral Underdog


Geeks Love Zombies: What is behind this strange phenomenon?

Before you begin reading this, it’s likely a good idea to have a look at this infographic detailing the differences between Nerd vs. Geek personality types – will add some clarity to the post that follows.

This week is the return of AMC’s The Walking Dead and the buzz is starting to crescendo rapidly. AMC has put some great interactive muscle behind this Sunday’s premiere and why not, their target audience is online. If there’s a perfect pairing for us geeks it’s got to be zombies and the interwebs. Perhaps it’s just me (and it probably is) but have you ever considered the universal love of zombies by tech geeks?  There’s simply no question that geeks loves zombies, it’s everywhere, you hardly have to look for it. So let’s move beyond if geeks love zombies and start considering why they do.

I’ve a few hypotheses to consider. Most Americans love a good underdog story. Quite often this is manifested by some kind of sports underdog, the bottom of the ninth, bases loaded, some 6’6” Neanderthal wearing a Yankee’s hat throwing 120 mph….. That said, the jock underdog situation is not for everybody.   On the other hand, The Zombie “fantasy” if you will, serves up the perfect cerebral underdog scenario.   Zombies offer techie geeks the ability to have the “save the world” fantasy using a combination of brains and brawn in a 90:10 ratio (in favor of brains of course).  I mean, let’s face it (no disrespect meant at all to the geek world, I mean, I think I fall pretty high into a the geek camp) but geeks aren’t the quintessential hero types.  They’re stereotypically, well….geeks.  Not necessarily someone you’d go to if a big scary bad guy busted into your home to get you (thus why Clark Kent the “geek” was the perfect cover for Superman – other than the fact he looked like Hercules in a suit and glasses but that a discussion for another day.)

So, why are zombies are the perfect bad guys for geeks?  Well, we can consider how zombie movies are metaphors for the mind-policing of the world. There’s this subtext that when things go bad in the real world most people will fall into a lemming like mob mentality (like zombies) and you need a smart good guy or gal to rise above that. Plus, zombies are normally manifested as an amalgamated depiction of all the classic geek tormenters. For example, geeks love being smarter than dim witted creeps, jocks, high school principals, professors, rich and popular kids etc that have somehow made their lives miserable at one point or another. They’re scary, propagate quickly, plus hey, they want to eat your brains which is quite unpleasant particularly if you consider your brain your finest organ, and most geeks do. So ya get a geeky kid (like in Zombieland) who uses his geek smarts to outwit the zombies and engineer some solution to take over the mindless bad guys and save the whole world. Plus, the zombie movie often feature geeks expanding beyond just their normal capabilities to learn new non-geek related skills like accidently firing a shotgun and then within 10 minutes being able to wield this zombie blaster like a Marine.

Let’s take it one step further and turn this around. Put a geek up against Wolfman or Dracula and the geek is likely in more peril.  Dracula is strong AND pretty smart.  Wolfman, lacks smarts, but he’s a terrifying furry brute.  Odds are stacked in favor of Drac and Wolfy here.

Zombies give you some time to come up with a “master plan”, avoid falling into the zombie-pack mentality, be smart, and save the world. Oh yeah, and probably impress the girl – showing her you don’t need to be Captain friggin America to demonstrate your “awesomeness”.

Now, if you will excuse me, I need to get back to imagining the impending Zombie invasion and how I’m going to be the last man standing.


Zombies are everywhere these days. While their popularity seems to have been more constant over the years vs. the recent complete and utter obsession with all things vampire (especially by females, odd) zombies seem to be on the rise again. Ha get it, rise again, ok. Here are a few helpful zombie related links:


AMC’s Walking Dead Promo (Worth checking out)

Hey even the CDC got in on the fun:

Boston.com on the top Zombie movies:



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