If someone would have asked me a month ago what I thought of when they said zombies, I would’ve immediately said “Thriller.” Michael Jackson’s biggest hit was accompanied by a pretty awesome video featuring lots of zombies in a movie…or in real life. Yeah, that’s the extent of my zombie awareness.

While I may not be too savvy or enthusiastic about zombies, I know I’m outnumbered. Let’s be honest here—zombies are a pretty big thing in today’s culture, and I don’t just mean pop culture.

By now you’ve probably heard about the “Miami Zombie,” as they’ve affectionately dubbed him. Also called the “Causeway Cannibal,” a homeless Florida native attacked another homeless man. In his tainted bath salts induced state, Rudy Eugene proceeded to literally eat the face off of another man. The victim, Ronald Poppo, had both eyes gouged out, nose eaten, and fleshy facial areas eaten.

Now that’s a lovely picture of the gruesome and abnormal scene, isn’t it? The story’s popularity has prompted similar stories to break and helped fuel the fad that’s been recently trending.

Following the strange cannibal story, another story broke out of Maryland. A college student claimed to have killed a man and proceeded to devour his heart and brains. Then in New Jersey, a troubled man stabbed himself an excess of 50 times and threw his intestines at the police. See, these are things you hear about and see in movies…not on the nightly headlines.

In a way, it’s scary how today’s society takes these things so seriously. The latter two incidents seem almost copycat, maybe because there’s something about the craze and popularity that’s appealing. Now there are people seriously saying that a “zombie apocalypse” is imminent. No good can come out of mass chaos and throngs of people believing these absurd myths.

While there’s a potential for the craze to be more damaging than entertaining, it really is just that–entertaining. Think about all the songs, movies and TV shows that focus on this craze; it’s really quite an industry.

Though their appeal has been around since about the 70s, they’ve been lately reintroduced into mainstream thanks to AMC’s “The Walking Dead.” I think viewers wanted something new after all the vampire mania over the past few years. The appeal of the living dead just seemed to boom. You can check out our lists of the top media that highlights zombies.

Locally speaking, the Pittsburgh area has their take on the zombie phenomena. Decked out in zombie fatigues, runners and hired professionals alike take to the streets and raise awareness for prominent world issues while running. In October of 2006 and 2007, the Pittsburgh zombie walks held outside of the Monroeville Mall were certified in the Guinness World Records for their large attendance, roughly around 1000. Now, attendances worldwide are upwards of 9,000 people.

With all of this zombie talk, I feel the need to mention that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a whole section on Zombie Awareness. Though it was originally formatted to be tongue-in-cheek, they realized that preparedness for a fictitious zombie apocalypse might help people be prepared for other natural disasters. And hey, it’s entertaining.

So all in all, this whole zombie craze has been around for a while, but recent events have brought it a bit more mainstream. Because folks can be incredibly gullible and influenced, it could turn out to be a negative thing. Though it might help the movie industry and news ratings, there’s something discomforting about millions of Americans legitimately believing a zombie apocalypse.

On behalf of myself and Andy Samberg’s “Citizens are not naturally ingested by Americans League,” otherwise known as C.A.N.N.I.B.A.L, I leave you with his words: “Hey you, don’t eat that human being. Instead, try a hamburger!”

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