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When Zombies Attack: A Look At Shaun Of The Dead Through Menippean Satire

2457 words - 10 pages

It’s the zombie apocalypse. All hell has broken loose, there are few in the group you can trust as you search for shelter and food. One man is usually in charge, and we would hope that it is someone who is capable of leading a group. The film I have chosen to discuss is Shaun of the Dead, a British zombie romantic comedy directed by Edgar Wright. Shaun of the Dead was heavily influenced by George Romero’s Dead trilogy, hence the parody title of the film. The main character in the film is of course, Shaun, played by actor and co-writer of the film, Simon Pegg. His character is the last man we would expect to want to save the world or be in charge of a group of people, and the movie showcases that by using a satiric form of humor called menippean satire. “Menippean satire is named after the Menippus in the third century BCE” (“Menippean Satire”, Wikipedia).
According to the Collins American Dictionary,
“Menippean satire is defined as a form of satire that is indirect and nonrealistic in approach. It consists typically of a loosely organized narrative incorporating a series of dialogues between representatives of various points of view” (Collins).
Shaun of the Dead uses menippean satire as a means of demonstrating the metaphorical connection between zombies and human society by having the zombies represent consumerism. Similarities that zombies and humans share include being purposeless and adapting to the trend or the next best thing. We see this represented in social and news media daily. This movie uses zombies to represent society in the form of consumerism and how daily activities in human lives can quickly become routine, foreshadowing consumerism in the sense that everyone does the same thing (i.e. acting like zombies), including the idea that Shaun represents change and the everyday man in the film.
The idea of feeling purposeless and the feeling of being stuck in a routine were recurring themes throughout Shaun of the Dead, shown mostly in the beginning of the movie. Set in London, we get a sense of the environment and are introduced to the main character, Shaun, in the beginning. The first shot of the movie is a view of slow, shuffling feet and the sound of human moans. As the camera slowly pans up, it is revealed to be Shaun waking up in the morning. The audience expects it to be a zombie. Shaun is a man in his 30’s that appears older than he truly is. He has the same routine every day of getting up and commuting to work and making a convenience pit stop along the way before work to pick up snacks, ending the long work day at his favorite pub, The Winchester, in the evenings with his best friend as well as roommate, Ed. His girlfriend Liz in the beginning is of a higher status than Shaun, well dressed and refined, and the audience is left clueless as to what Liz would see in a man like Shaun and why she would be in a relationship with him. Liz challenges Shaun to grow up and kick Ed out of his house, who she feels is a setback in...

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