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Zombies, dementia and Maryan Street

  • September 21st, 2014

Here’s an interesting proposition from an investment analyst –   speculation that the vampire/zombie genre is a way of coping with an advancing army of demented baby boomers.

Patrick Cox wonders whether the current fascination with zombies  might be a protective cultural adaptation to the vast army of the old now gathering in the shadows of medicine’s remarkable extension of life expectancy.

His theory could explain something I’ve puzzled over, since enjoying Taiki Waititi’s vampire film  “What we do in the Shadows”.

The film is witty. It is fun to see Wellington from a night-walker’s perspective. But  I missed allusions clearly familiar to the mainly young audience at the session I attended. A deep knowledge of the vampire genre seems to be universal among under 30s.

Zombie, horror and vampire stuff has always been a complete mystery to me. I cannot understand how anyone finds them of the slightest interest, other than to spoof.

I subscribe to Patrick Cox’s weekly newsletters because science and technology are so much more interesting. Often they are more weird (even fantastical)  than any dull projection of atavistic fears. So Patrick’s speculation (while promoting analysis of a pharmaceutical company that may have a drug for Alzheimers) is much more interesting for me than a film review.

It also reminded me to praise New Zealander Gillian Bennett. In August she committed suicide in Canada, in the face of  deterioration into dementia. The Herald and the DomPost both provided excerpts from the courageous 85 year old’s written explanation of her decision.  Her explanation fuelled the pressure for a law change in Canada.

I believe it will be my duty to ensure I die before I become a terrible burden. My family should not see me for long if I cease to be me.

The loss of Maryan Street from Parliament may delay the time when our Parliament will squarely confront the law that means one must risk deciding too early, for fear that it will be too late when you are incapable. Maryan courageously sponsored a bill to reduce the risks of criminal prosecution for assisted suicide.

I’d rather see the law change delayed until there has been enough debate to evolve the outlines of a new ethical consensus.  I think we need understandings that will honour those of us who choose in free will to go before we become a husk with nothing left but appetites.

National will have a big caucus with not enough to do. Hopefully there will be a member there willing to promote such debate.  Near doubling of life spans does not spare any of us from going, but it can make the going much worse.


  • Roger Strong
  • September 22nd, 2014
  • 12:08 pm

I don’t quite understand the reference to ‘the loss of Maryan Street from parliament’- as far as I can see she is far enough up the list to be back in….

  • Ortvin Sarapuu
  • September 23rd, 2014
  • 12:10 am

I’m sure your inability to understand the appeal of horror has much more to do with your intellectual superiority to the genre’s afficionadoes, and nothing at all to do with your being out of touch.

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