Sep 11 2013

Don’t Go In There!

Hmm… I still have access to the FtB server. Apparently the whole “plugging the security loopholes” lesson hasn’t quite been learned, given that you’re reading this post right now. Anyway, just thought I’d throw this out there, since it’s something that I did in January and is finally now seeing the light of day. This was originally posted earlier today at my personal blog (which, I’m sure it will disappoint you to learn, I am not posting at very much at all).

Horror films are a wonderful source of escapism, where we can feel the thrill of terror in the relative safety of our living rooms or a crowded movie theatre. One of the all-time classics within the horror genre is the zombie movie: hordes of shuffling, shambling atrocities hell-bent on devouring the flesh of the still-living. One of the iconic images of any good zombie movie is the panic-stricken victim of a zombie bite who is slowly turning from human into monster, as all morality and reason drains from their body while their comrades feverishly debate whether or not to put their erstwhile friend out of hir ‘misery’ courtesy of a well-timed shotgun blast to the face.


One of the things that has always struck me about the thrill and threat of the zombie subgenre is the idea that someone can walk around ‘infected’ without showing any outward signs of distress, but at that pivotal moment they ‘turn’ and lash out. Having watched enough zombie movies in my life, I know enough that I would be far more cautious about that ‘little scrape’ on my friend’s upper arm after a fight with a horde of the undead. I’ve seen enough movies to know that that ‘little scrape’ might mean the difference between life and un-death. I suspect that, if you’ve watched these movies too, you know as well as I do what the warning signs are – the eerie music, the mysterious noise, the unexplained ‘headache’.

Much like a zombie movie afficionado does, members of visible minority communities have spent years learning to read the warning signs of racial antipathy, even from those who don’t recognize that they’re ‘infected’ with the subtle biases that affect us all. They (we) have learned to spot the danger from a long way off, ensuring that we can take the necessary precautions to protect ourselves.

In the following presentation, given in January of 2013 in Kelowna, BC, I explore the parallels between zombie movies and anti-racism, with examples drawn from classic horror scenes. I discuss how we can learn to understand racism in a contemporary context, and understand the role our subconscious plays in our interactions, and how we can use this knowledge to avoid and combat racism in the same way we use it to avoid and combat zombies. I discuss how to have more productive conversations when you, as a member of the majority group, enter a minority space. Finally, I emphasize how anti-racism is a crucial and useful part of a skeptical toolchest, and how we can use this knowledge to grow the movement.

I hope you enjoy the talk, and please feel free to share it, as a whole or in part, wherever you like:

Part 1: Don’t Go In There!

Part 2: Fighting Racism, Zombie Style

Part 3: How Not to Get Your Head Blown Off

Part 4: Anti-Racism and the Skeptical Movement

Like this article? Follow me on Twitter!

Clips from Dawn of the DeadZombielandShaun of the Dead, and Resident Evil claimed under Fair Use principles for educational purposes.


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  1. 1
    PZ Myers

    Maybe it’s a hint that we don’t want you to leave.

    You could just make the occasional post when you feel like it…as you’ve done here.

  2. 2

    Pfft, you just keep me on the front page for affirmative action quota purposes. I’m hip to your jive, turkey.

    But seriously, thanks for saying that.

  3. 3

    Yeah, go on! You know you want to … Must be the odd post you can put up from time to time. Go on, go on, go on, go on, go on, go on!

  4. 4
    Johnny Vector

    Well I for one am doing the dance of joy* that you’ve posted something new! What a cool idea too. With video to watch as soon as I get the chance. Thanks!

    *I learned it from Numfar himself.

  5. 5
    morgan ?! epitheting a metaphor

    Hey Ian. I seconded what PZ said. You are a really valuable member of this FtB community. I hope we don’t completely lose touch.

  6. 6


    Oh. Well, don’t be a stranger, ok?

  7. 7


    *flailing dance*

    *bad moves*

  8. 8

    Wait I can read you in two places. Cool!

  9. 9

    Ha! My reaction was exactly the same as SallyStrange’s. But I don’t think she used enough exclamation points. Plus, why use all caps when you can do BOLD AND ITALICS TOO!


    I’ll have to block out some time to watch these, they look really interesting.

  10. 10
    MG Myers

    Yay! This was a very pleasant surprise. Thanks for posting, Crommunist!

  11. 11

    Ha, great to see a post from you Ian. Slowly we will draw you back in, slowly….

  12. 12

    I admit I ran around in happy circles.

  13. 13
    F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

    Ah, zombies and wights. Or whites. With scratches. Or something.

    I bet it’s like a train whistle heard miles down the track. And yest some of us don’t notice at all, even standing right on the tracks, because that train passes right through us like neutrinos. Or a ghost. Huh? I didn’t see any racism…

  14. 14

    Oh how I’ve missed you! Twitter just isn’t the same, though I do enjoy you there as well.

  15. 15

    Aw go on, the occasional post would be great, and I miss you posting here :)

    I’ll watch the videos when I’m not at work though.

  16. 16
    One Brow

    You’ve always been one of my favorite reads. Thank for posting again. I hope to see more, against all evidence.

  17. 17

    Just thought I’d add to the pile of warm fuzzies. Pull a Deacon Duncon, and fire off occasional articles when it strikes your fancy! Or even better, let your co-bloggers have free reign here.

  18. 18
    JesseW, the Juggling Janitor

    For what it’s worth, let me be *another* person who is happy to see you here, whenever you wish to post. Often or not often. I’ll also offer the suggestion of re-posts — I know there are quite a few of your posts that I’ve been meaning to read, but haven’t gotten around to; if you set up a semi-automated system to post links to your past posts, I bet quite a few people would appreciate and benefit from that.

  19. 19
    JesseW, the Juggling Janitor

    I’ve now listened to the whole (4 part) video. It was as funny and informative, that is to say, very funny and informative, as Crommunist’s other work. I encourage everyone else to watch it, too. I wish I had something more substantive to say.

  20. 20

    I’ll second SallyStrange too, what a nice surprise!! I do so enjoy reading your posts. So thanks for popping back by.

  21. 21

    Please come back!!

  22. 22

    I knew you couldn’t leave me! Don’t ever leave me again!


  23. 23
    John Kruger

    Had you left on the same terms as TF, I doubt the privilege would have been extended. Apparently the price paid is another great posting on the FTB network. I think they will continue to allow the “security risk”.

  24. 24
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    @ Crommunist : I’d always love to read your work here. Yes that’s a hint.

  25. 25

    This was a Sept. 11 post. I guess he really ain’t coming back.
    Perhaps its time for Ed and PZ to “turn off the lights”. But then, I noticed “Sincerely Natalie” is still showing up after a much longer absence.
    The presence of these “dead sites” sort of reminds me of the way a cobra raises its hood to look larger than it really is.
    But then, “Blasphemous Blogging” just kinda dissappeared in the middle of the night without any warning, so its not like I really know why the FtB’s do what they do.

  26. 26

    How did I miss this back in September???

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