When I thought I’ve seen too many nonfiction books and research I can’t be surprised anymore, I stumbled upon Zombies, Migrants, and Queers: Race and Crisis Capitalism in Pop Culture and knew this needs to happen.
The book is divided into few parts, each of them addressing one of the pop culture interests, such as zombies, queers, migrants and ecological distasters in broader context of capitalism and politics.
One of the social phenomenon shaping current pop culture is related to Generation Y, aka people born between mid seventies to the mid-nineties. According to Macmillan Dictionary, the generation I belong to too, is fascinated by technology, aware of environmental and social issues, tending to liberal politics. The dark side of our generation, at least seen from the economic point of view, is staying with parents much longer than previous generations did, or even returning to the parental home after years living away – the reference to boomerang is quite obvious. This phenomenon has both global economic and social background and is valid again mostly for white middleclass, where moving economically (and socially) downward can be almost portrayed as a new, brave way in a different direction.
Zombies, Migrants, and Queers: Race and Crisis Capitalism in Pop Culture shows how in massively popular shows the white protagonists are usually engaging in various criminal activities for their ‘survival’. Their actions in forms of drug dealership, corrupting police departments and establishing deeper connections with criminal world is perceived as a new form of entrepreneurialism, and their efforts of doing ‘whatever it takes’ is branded as signs of strong will, determination, while all negative narratives and consequences are somehow swept under the rug. The impact of such shows on racialized characters is following: their stories and communities are extracted from historical, economic and social contexts for the entertainment of white middleclass, however their own positions in the same type of situations or activities are being judged, and ultimately create harmful stereotypes and exceptions, often hidden behind a mask of personal empowerment.
Honestly, reading Zombies, Migrants, and Queers: Race and Crisis Capitalism in Pop Culture has changed lot of my opinions about shows I’m watching. As much as I know that representation matters, I managed not to see it that much on Netflix or elsewhere. But yes, zombie shows are mostly about white men and weak women, yes, shows from prison environment are fluid in sexuality, but fixed in race, yes, ruins are fascinating reminder of economy freefalls. Read this book if you want to understand your favorite movies and shows in social-economic contexts.
Note: I received this book in NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.