Greener Grass

Greener Grass

Cover of "World War Z: An Oral History of...

My husband and I were watching World War Z the other night. You know, Zombie Apocalypse Movie #997-B, with Brad Pitt.

In a world where a lot of things, quite frankly, suck, where people die for little or no reason, planes disappear into thin air, and thousands die from starvation every day, human beings just can't seem to get their fill of carnage.

We fantasize about asteroids, tornadoes, earthquakes, fires, zombie apocalypses, nuclear apocalypses, alien invasions, epidemics, futuristic dystopias, and homicidal ghost children. And we never seem to get enough.

It's bad enough to live on a planet where, if you only look, you can find every type of corruption imaginable, torture, famine, disease, drought, and death, but it's worse that, whenever we get the hankerin', we just make up some more.

What is it about the human mind that leads us to these dark places? What part of our primitive brain needs to watch Hannibal, or watch a cruise ship crack in half, throwing its unwitting passengers into frigid seas, or see cities fall to their knees at the hands of evildoers from other dimensions? Pretty weird, right? Throw in the worry about being attacked by a pal and becoming a vampire or zombie, or coming down with a raging case of rabies, and you've pretty much covered the spectrum of human fear.

Logic says we should run, screaming, from all this horse malarkey (and the spiders), and draw sunshine and rainbows wherever we step. We should be singing kumbaya with our fellow man at our local Rotary Club's next Roast Beef Dinner. But we don't. We keep shelling out the clams to watch chaos and destruction - in 3D, at the drive-in, and at home. Logic should tell you that since negative scenarios essentially exist in a continuous loop, we might be a little nicer to one another. We might help each other out more. But we're not. And we don't. In fact, we're pretty mean.

Today (and stay with me here, because this is going to seem to veer way off track), as I headed into the grocery store, out of the corner of my eye, I spied a tall man in a mini skirt and a bunch of makeup, heading towards the entrance. Did I care about his appearance? No. Not particularly. I've always been a little left of center in the 'acceptance of diverse populations' department. I sort of prefer diversity to a Stepford environment. What I did care about was how this man would be received once in the store.

What I witnessed was expected - giggling, pointing, jokes, an almost-giddiness from the staff and patrons that, for a moment, led me to the belief that more men should cross-dress more often.

I lost track of him once I got to the deli counter, but these reactions made me wonder: If aliens descended on the supermarket while we were inside, we'd save this guy, right? Would we save the a*hole who took our parking spot or cut us off on the way in?

Why are we so tolerant of flesh-eating monsters from other planets and not our own people? And why are we so much more likely to pay money to watch the torture or mistreatment of another human being on a screen (Hello, Seven and Saw) instead of facing these issues in real life? We'd literally step over people in the street to go see a movie about people getting stepped over on the street.

We've staged wars on plants, spiders,  witches, and apes, but can't seem to figure out how to get Chex into kids' mouths in the morning.

And how is it we can cheer while watching peoples' faces be blown clean off, but we're scared of a guy in a skirt, buying tomatoes?

I guess my point here is twofold. Here's the first: The fact that we can create entire worlds, diseases, and monsters that do not exist, and have them eat, disembowel, skin, or otherwise violate us, while simultaneously turning a collective blind eye to the realities of our own world, simply blows my mind.

The second? We could be attacked by zombies at any time. Be nice to the guy in the skirt. He might be the one who saves your life. 

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