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Government finds useful niche in zombie pop culture craze

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I have in my room a truly spectacular piece of art. It’s a poster, a masterwork of all things printed, the crème de la crème of the wall-hanging world. If there were to be a fire in Larson, this poster would be the first and only thing that I would save. Its subject? “How to Survive a Zombie Attack.”

It is not entirely nonsensical that this poster should hold so much value. As most of you must be aware, the possibility of a zombie apocalypse has become a growing concern for the average American. How many incidences of crazed, flesh-eating individuals have there been in the past few months? More than one. And I would argue that the fact that there has even been one is cause for alarm. So a set of useful tips on making it through a zombie attack would hold a great deal of relevance in our day and age. And, apparently the government thinks so too.

In mid-May of last year, the Center for Disease Control began a new campaign aimed at informing otherwise unengaged audiences on disaster preparedness. As bait, they used the ever-growing fear of an America taken over by zombies. The helpful hints that the CDC has released on surviving in such a world can easily be applied to any circumstance qualifying as a “disaster,” most notably earthquakes and hurricanes. The initial blog post offers a list of necessities that potential victims should stock up on, as well as suggestions to assign a meeting place to regroup with family and friends. Looking back at my poster, Rule #2 “Stockpile food and water for long periods of time. Canned food is good. Junk food is even better” and Rule #1 “Create a home base with plenty of weapons – the sharper the better” seem as though they’re aimed at more than just zombie preparedness. Granted, you may have to read between the lines on Rule #1, but I think it still applies.

Is the allure of zombies helping to raise awareness on true disaster preparedness? It would appear so. According to ABC News, the “Walking Dead” spin on survival skills caused the CDC’s blog site to crash in about 10 minutes as thousands upon thousands of Internet users scrambled to read their advice. You do have to wonder whether or not those visitors actually took away fresh knowledge on what to do in the event of, say, a hurricane, or if they merely got a kick out of the government’s “admission” of the possibility of true zombies. I find it hard to believe that our federal system would submit to something that some not myself would consider completely ridiculous, just for the sake of making people laugh. Although apparently President Obama has been printing his birth certificate on coffee mugs, so clearly our officials do have some sense of humor.

Members of the CDC have stated that their primary goal in this campaign was to get citizens to take disaster preparedness more seriously. Ironically, it does seem that with this zombie campaign they have achieved that goal. Others who have taken on the zombie initiative have reported greater, prolonged interest in disaster preparedness with audiences when the undead were mentioned.

Although we live in Minnesota where the probability of earthquakes and hurricanes isn’t high, I believe it would be a helpful mnemonic device to think of zombies when familiarizing yourself with proper disaster procedure. If some terrifying and unfamiliar act of God were to occur near Northfield, think “WWIDITZA” “What Would I Do In The Zombie Apocalypse?” and you’ll be golden.

Unless, of course, the government isn’t telling us something, and the “actual disaster” part of the CDC’s campaign is just a cover for the fact that an actual zombie attack is nigh. Conspiracies! Munch on that.

Mira Sen ’15 senm@stolaf.edu is from Batavia, Ill. She majors in political science and English.