*World War Z*

by on June 29, 2013 at 2:10 pm in Education, Film, History, Medicine, Philosophy, Uncategorized | Permalink

I was surprised how serious a movie it is and also by how deeply politically incorrect it is, including on “third rail” issues such as immigration, ethnic conflict, North Korean totalitarianism, American urban decay as exemplified by Newark, gun control, Latino-Black relations, songs of peace, and the Middle East.  Here is one (incomplete) discussion of the Middle East angle, from the AP, republished in el-Arabiya (here is a more detailed but less responsible take on the matter, by a sociology professor and Israeli, spoilers throughout).

The movie is set up to show sympathy for the “Spartan” regimes and to have a message which is deeply historically pessimistic and might broadly be called Old School Conservative, informed by the debates on martial virtue from pre-Christian antiquity.  But they recut the final segment of the movie and changed the ending altogether, presumably because post-Christian test audiences and film executives didn’t like it.  Here is one discussion of the originally planned finale.  It sounds good to me.  The actual movie as it was released reverts to a Christian ending of sorts.  My preferred denouement would have relied on the idea of an asymptomatic carrier or two, go see it and figure out the rest yourself.

By the way, for all the chances taken by the film makers, they were unwilling to offend the government of China (see the first link), in part because you cannot trick them easily with subtle, veiled references.  Such tomfoolery works only on Americans — critics included — which I suppose suggests a lesson of its own.

Here is a Times of Israel review of the movie, interesting throughout, and it notes that the Israel scenes are simply translated to “the Middle East” for Turkish audiences.

A good film, I liked it.  How many other movies offer commentary on Thucydides, Exodus, Gush-Shalom, Lawrence Dennis, and George Romero, all rolled into one?

Ray June 29, 2013 at 2:15 pm

If you haven’t read the book you will enjoy it. It is nothing if not practical.

spit June 29, 2013 at 2:26 pm

I agree that World War Z is much, much better than one had the right to expect. Very little of the “Man needs to save wife/family/child/dog” subplot to humanize the guy during the apocalypse. Brad Pitt is remarkably good, showing just how big a movie star he is by not appearing to do much of anything.

Linking to Mondoweiss without mentioning that it’s an anti-semitic site that’s been banned by Daily Kos for its Jew hatred is unseemly. See here mondotruth.tumblr.com

Tyler Cowen June 29, 2013 at 2:36 pm

Apologies, did not know, but I did indicate it did not seem responsible.

P June 29, 2013 at 4:28 pm

I’m disappointed that Tyler would apologize for linking to a “controversial” site. I think Tyler is essentially an intellectual con man, but I respect him for his staunch support of free speech, as exemplified by the MR comments section.

Tyler has linked to the Occidental Quarterly before, so Mondoweiss seems rather tame by comparison.

prior_approval June 30, 2013 at 1:10 am

‘but I respect him for his staunch support of free speech, as exemplified by the MR comments section’

Like silently deleting comments that touch upon various subjects which are not to be discussed in the MR comments section? Which is not exactly a free speech issue – the authors of this site are free to manipulate what appears here to their heart’s content, after all.

AC June 29, 2013 at 4:37 pm

I do not believe that linking to a site being given a low-status label by a fashionable blog is itself something for you to apologize. If the content was of low quality – whether poor in content or mindkilled by bias, it wouldn’t have been worth linking to in the first place. That does not appear to be the reason for your apology.

Peter Schaeffer June 29, 2013 at 5:41 pm


The article over in Mondoweiss was a parody of extreme left-wing, multicultural absurdity. Did anyone notice the line about

“Brad Pitt’s Gerry Lane, whose full, passive, hetero-normative family awaits him in Nova Scotia”

So a male movie character with a family is now a gay-bashing role model?

Steve Sailer June 29, 2013 at 9:54 pm

The author of the review at MondoWeiss.net, a site which Tyler has apologized for linking to for its purported anti-Semitism, is:

“Jesse Benjamin, an associate professor of sociology at Kennesaw State University, is a US and an Israeli citizen.”


A more general point is that academically trained leftist deconstructionists like Dr. Benjamin are often fairly accurate at sniffing out the rightist crimethink at the root of much of popular entertainment.

In contrast, most liberal journalists just assume that all creative artists are liberals like themselves, and thus tend to be oblivious to the obvious. For example, Christopher Nolan is slightly to the right of the Duke of Wellington and Neill Blomkamp is slightly to the right of the Rev. Malthus, but who notices?

Cimon Alexander June 30, 2013 at 6:44 am

What in the world is a “hetero-normative family”? Isn’t that just a family, in both the historical and biological sense of the word?

Peter Schaeffer June 30, 2013 at 12:17 pm


“Isn’t that just a family, in both the historical and biological sense of the word?”

Yes, and that is exactly what offends the likes of Jesse Benjamin. Definitely go see the movie. Gerry Lane’s family is utterly conventional and Lane is very devoted to his wife and kids. The whole thing amounts to rubbing salt (no doubt Calcium Chloride) into the ideological wounds of the politically correct.

Steve Sailer June 29, 2013 at 9:19 pm

Here’s the Wikipedia article on the founder of MondoWeiss:

“Philip Weiss is an American journalist who co-edits Mondoweiss (“a news website devoted to covering American foreign policy in the Middle East, chiefly from a progressive Jewish perspective”[1]) with journalist Adam Horowitz.[1][2] Weiss describes himself as an anti-Zionist and rejects the label “post-Zionist.”[3]

“Weiss is the author of the novel Cock-a-Doodle-Doo (1996)[4] and the non-fiction book American Taboo: A Murder In The Peace Corps (2004).[5] He co-edited The Goldstone Report: The Legacy of the Landmark Investigation of the Gaza Conflict (2011) with Adam Horowitz and Lizzy Ratner.[6]”

“Weiss has written for the New York Times Magazine,[7] Harper’s Magazine,[8] Esquire, and the New York Observer.[9][10]”

“In 2006 he began writing a daily blog called Mondoweiss on The New York Observer website which began to focus on “Jewish issues” like “the Iraq disaster and my Jewishness, Zionism, neo-conservatism, Israel, Palestine.” In the spring of 2007 he started Mondoweiss as an independent blog.[11][12]”


As far as I can tell, Weiss is a Jewish liberal multiculturalist who thinks the principles of liberalism and multiculturalism should apply not only to America, but also to the Jewish State as well. I guess that must make him “anti-Semitic.”

rigs June 30, 2013 at 1:19 am

Well, if Wikipedia says so (at the moment) then it must be true.

When will people realize Wikipedia is not a reliable source for anything, but in particular for anything controversial?

Also, even if the founder of the site were a saint, that doesn’t contradict the site right now being full of hate. No rhyme intended.

rigs June 30, 2013 at 2:02 am

But speaking of Philip Weiss, it seems you’re not the only person who likes him.

TGGP June 30, 2013 at 2:08 pm

The two sorts of people most prone to obsessing over “the Jew thing” are anti-semites and Jews.

Steve Sailer June 30, 2013 at 7:21 pm

And there are a tiny number of individuals who just want to understand how the world works in this century, and have noticed that they aren’t supposed to pay attention to the per capita most influential group.

Steve Sailer June 29, 2013 at 9:26 pm

And here are extracts from the Wikipedia article on the other editor of MondoWeiss:

“Adam Horowitz (born circa 1974) is an American journalist. He co-edits Mondoweiss, a news website covering American foreign policy in the Middle East from a progressive Jewish perspective, with journalist Philip Weiss. Horowitz and Weiss write “We maintain this blog because of 9/11, Iraq, Gaza, the Nakba, the struggling people of Israel and Palestine, and our Jewish background.”[1][2]

“Horowitz received his master’s degree in Near Eastern Studies from New York University.[3] He later served as the Director of the Israel/Palestine Program for the American Friends Service Committee[3] where he gained “extensive on-the-ground experience in Israel/Palestine.”[4] While employed there in 2007 Horowitz received an anonymous email at his home with the subject line “Why do you hate being a Jew, why are you in favor of murdering Jews?” Horowitz later discovered that the e-mail had been sent by Allyson Rowen Taylor, then an assistant regional director at the West Coast office of the American Jewish Congress who went on to become associate director of a pro-Israel advocacy organization called Stand With Us. Taylor later admitted to The Jewish Daily Forward that she sent the email.[5]”

In addition to Mondoweiss, Horowitz writes for The Nation, Alternet, The Huffington Post, and The Hill.com.[3][6] Horowitz’ work on Mondoweiss has been noted by the New York Times.[7] In 2011 he was interviewed on WBEZ on the topic of Palestinian bid for statehood.[8] Horowitz frequently has spoken on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on campuses and to organizations.[9][10]…

“The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs notes that Horowitz has written on the Mondoweiss blog “[if] they are asking if I support a Jewish state…the simple answer is no.”[17] On the blog Horowitz went on to explain: “This is for the reasons stated above: it is impossible for there to be equality in Israel/Palestine while there is a state that offers special and exclusive rights to Jews over other people.”[18]”

Personally, I think Israelis would be silly to listen to Jewish American liberal multiculturalists like Weiss and Horowitz. But, then, I think there is much that Americans could learn from Israel about how an intelligent people rule themselves.

Peter Schaeffer June 30, 2013 at 12:11 am


You are always arguing that American Jews should be demanding “Mr. Netanyahu, tear down this wall”. Now we have found some actually crazy enough to say it.

Steve Sailer June 30, 2013 at 1:15 am

Yeah, it’s a good one-liner to use on all the Open Borders economists who then suddenly sense that, uh-oh, their funding would dry up awfully fast if they tried to pull the same stuff on Israel as they do on America.

In the real world, Israel has been building border fences like crazy, and so far they seem to be highly effective at reducing illegal immigration from Africa, even though the conventional wisdom in the American press is that it’s a Law of Nature that that won’t work. You don’t have to build giant walls like the Israelis build in World War Z, either. Just piling up up lots and lots of ugly razor wire works like a charm for the Israelis.

Rahul June 30, 2013 at 3:51 am

Steve Sailer’s endorsements regarding Anti-Semitism should be pretty dependable.

ArikSharon June 30, 2013 at 10:25 am

With all due respect to the authority of Steven Sailer on anti-semitism, you have to be pretty out there to get banned by Daily Kos for Jew hatred.

Copy and pasting Wikipedia articles, of course, is also underwhelming. Check out the “history” section of the Mondoweiss page for the difficulties in adding anything negative to the entry.

The posts at “Is Mondoweiss Anti-Semitic?” At http://mondotruth.tumblr.com are difficult to argue with — ranging from endorsements by anti-Semites to obsessions with Jewish power and money to calling Elie Wisel a “court Jew” and other despicable stuff.

So Much For Subtlety June 29, 2013 at 10:33 pm

I think that being banned by Daily Kos is a mark of pride in most cases.


1. What did they say that was so vile that this group of Jewish intellectuals were banned, and
2. How can a rather large group of mainly Jews be guilty of Jew hatred?

I hate self-loathing Leftists as much as the next frothing-at-the-mouth Right Wing Loon, but I think that there is more to this story than presented here and until we have actual details, there is no reason to apologise.

Personally I found their review amusing. Although not as much as the hetero-normativity guy.

ecurb June 29, 2013 at 3:32 pm

Banned by the DK sounds like an endorsement to me.

The Bachelor June 29, 2013 at 4:11 pm


Have you read his CV?

Why on earth would Tyler Cowen even consider linking to such a guy.

Michael June 29, 2013 at 2:50 pm
Steve Sailer June 29, 2013 at 10:20 pm

Thanks. Those are comprehensively informative.

JWatts June 30, 2013 at 5:21 pm

I have yet to see the movie, but the review of the book seems to be fundamentally correct, though subject to some hyperbole. In essence, the book is good, but the author (Mel Brook’s son) clearly leans to the left. He takes jabs at Karl Rove, George Bush, evil-capitalists/gullible consumers, etc. Though most of the direct “blame” falls on the Chinese.

I’m surprised at Tyler Cowen’s comment that then ending of the movie has a “Christian” ending. I’m not sure what that means. Of course the movie doesn’t follow the plot line of the book, but is supposedly another story set in the same universe. For example, there was no vaccine “cure” in the book, the “cure” was literally drafting a million soldiers from the remaining parts of the country (everwhere west of the Rockies) and marching then in a 1,000 mile north-south line on foot, “curing” as they went.

Steve Sailer June 30, 2013 at 6:24 pm

Haven’t read the book, but my impression from the discussions is that the younger Brooks has a reactionary, fear-driven, far-right personality, that due to traditional family loyalties manifests itself as seeing as “his team” center and center-left institutions (the Democrats, Israeli secular Zionists, and neocons). If he had the same personality, but his father was Mel Gibson instead of Mel Brooks, he would have written the same book, just the good guys and bad guys would be slightly different.

Steve Sailer June 30, 2013 at 6:47 pm

Here’s a good profile of Max Brooks in the NYT:


Son of Mel Brooks and Ann Bancroft. Extremely nervous in exactly the way his father is extremely funny: familial intensity. Discovered “The Hunt for Red October” at age 16 and Tom Clancy has been the biggest influence on him as a writer. Loves military logistics. When at hippy-dippy Pitzer College, joined the ROTC. Washed out quickly — too nervous. Gets highly agitated watching all the disasters on 24-hour cable news.

Most people with these inclinations would be well to the right, but growing up in a showbiz liberal family, he comes out kind of in the middle out of ethnic loyalty. In general, a lot of neocons are somewhat similar.

JWatts June 30, 2013 at 7:05 pm

I didn’t gather from the book that Max Brooks considers neocons his team, at least not post-2001 neocons.

He takes a rather standard Left-wing view that the Right is led by men who are corrupt and evil and the US military is grossly incompetent.

His book starts with an Idiot Ball. Now granted, in order to postulate a successful Zombie apocalypse you may need to assume the military/civilian leadership is grossly incompetent. Otherwise, you’ve got a very short book. But he carries it a step beyond what you’d have to justify by assuming that they are also particularly evil. The whole US government ignored NPR’s warnings about the Zombie’s in the ghettos because of racist politics angle.

If he had the same personality, but his father was Mel Gibson instead of Mel Brooks, he would have written the same book, just the good guys and bad guys would be slightly different.

That’s quite possibly true. But in that version the Jews & blacks would have been evil and responsible for the results. Which of course would have never led to a big budget movie adaptation.

I liked the strategic viewpoint of the book. I liked the assumption that at the end of the day civilization overcame anarchy. But quite a bit of the book was nothing more than an Author Track.

JWatts June 30, 2013 at 7:06 pm

author tract

ArikSharon July 2, 2013 at 1:57 am

Yes, they also accuse the Joos of knowing about 9/11 in advance and not warning the United States. Just fair warning.

Braden June 29, 2013 at 2:52 pm

“My preferred denouement would have relied on the idea of an asymptomatic carrier or two”

Agreed. SPOILERS: There’s a Chekhov’s gun early on in which a newscaster announces that roughly 5% of people seem to be resistant to the infection. I think it’s meant to refer to the terminally ill, but I wouldn’t expect them to confuse the unaffected and the untouched.

Hadur June 29, 2013 at 3:59 pm

Have you read the book? What you describe about the movie is what is 100x more true about the book. The main reaction I get from people who have both read the book and seen the movie is that they took out all of the non-PC stuff.

Not all of it, apparently.

Steve Sailer June 29, 2013 at 8:56 pm

Are you trying to imply that Mel Brooks’ son isn’t 100% politically correct like all good people are? What are you, some kind of eugenicist who thinks traits can be inherited?

GiT June 30, 2013 at 1:32 am

This would seem to imply you think “political correctness” is a heritable trait. Stupid, but unsurprising given the source…

Jody June 30, 2013 at 5:37 am

And why wouldn’t an inclination to PC be heritable? Not all heritable traits are genetic.

To me, your statement is akin to expressing shock that children tend to adopt the religion of their parents.

Willitts June 29, 2013 at 4:21 pm

The Soviet Union fell when a US president called it out for what it was – an evil empire. We should do the same for China. We don’t have to cut off trade, but we need to stop pussy footing around the tender sensibilities of communists.

It’s also a shame Red Dawn was recast as an invasion by…huh?…North Korea?

China is on its last legs, and all it needs is a good kick in the yarbles.

MD June 29, 2013 at 7:10 pm

We can’t have such sentiment when there’s money to be made.

tt June 29, 2013 at 11:10 pm

say “evil empire” three times and click your heels and they will be gone

JWatts June 30, 2013 at 5:27 pm

That requires a pair of magical Ruby Slippers, which are somewhat hard to come by.

FredR June 29, 2013 at 5:04 pm

A really serious movie where zombies are in India? for a week and nobody notices besides the Mossad, and then they magically appear simultaneously at the centers of basically every major city around the world at exactly the same time?

So Much For Subtlety June 29, 2013 at 6:33 pm

I always knew there was a good reason to ban those damn Hari Krishnas from airports.

Alexei Sadeski June 29, 2013 at 6:58 pm

Easily one of the worst zombie movies ever made.


Andrew' June 30, 2013 at 10:26 am

I think that’s the point. Haven’t seen it, but from the trailers it doesn’t look like it fits the zombie genre. Maybe it is more along the lines of District 9.

Steve Sailer June 29, 2013 at 8:53 pm

Back around 2009 or 2010, Tyler picked up on my point that the major league creative artists in our culture are far less often true believers in political correctness than the minor league kultursmog dweebs who interview them. It’s just that in the arts, unpopular truths can remain veiled by metaphor.

Here are couple of my posts on World War Z:



Andrew' June 30, 2013 at 10:27 am

Moviemakers have to (get to?) re-make or re-establish collaborative networks every 3 months to a couple years. I suspect that’s why they sound a lot like football coaches minus the disdain for the media.

YU June 29, 2013 at 8:58 pm

I apparently missed 100% of the symbolism and social commentary.

Tarrou June 29, 2013 at 9:18 pm

Couple points:

1: The movie bears no relationship to the book whatsoever beyond the concept of zombies, which is hardly unique. The zombies are a different sort, gestation periods differ, there is exactly one character from the book in the movie (the Mossad researcher), the whole terminal illness angle is new, as is the main character and the entire plot.

2: Whatever the “overtones”, the movie was fairly halfassed. And anyone who thought the movie wasn’t PC should read the book.

knb June 29, 2013 at 10:13 pm

I’ve always thought the concept of the zombie apocalypse was too absurd to create real tension. In the real world, the police would kill off zombies far more quickly than they could spread via biting.

Think of how long it took that “Florida Zombie” man to get killed, and he only bit the one guy. Each zombie would have to bite an implausibly high number of people in order to achieve “zombie takeoff.”

Even if zombies successfully took over the majority of an area’s population, the question lingers about how the zombies would survive for more than a week or so. Unless they are perpetual motion machines, they have to be eating something.

They rarely seem to eat an entire human, preferring to take one bite and convert them into zombies. So what are the zombies eating after that? There aren’t enough pets and small animals to sustain a large zombie population for more than a few days.

Even a successful zombie outbreak would have to end within 2 weeks.

Finch June 30, 2013 at 12:10 pm


> too absurd to create real tension

It would be over in an afternoon. It would be like Conquistadors and Incans. It’s some sort of strange conceit that pretends the zombies would have a chance. Hollywood wants to show society as more fragile than it really is. It’s just another kind of pandering to self-hate.

Leaving aside huge scientific problems with dead-people based zombies and imagining something like 28 Days Later zombies (low-IQ, unarmed, very excited, but still basically living people so they don’t freeze at night or melt in heat), the average untrained person with a gun would kill hundreds each day. The average soldier would kill thousands. And it’s not like there’s some shortage of guns and ammo.

Yancey Ward June 30, 2013 at 2:12 pm

There are roughly two types of zombies in the cinematic world- the fast and vicious and the slow and chomping. Like you, I have always found the the rapid spread of the latter over a geographical area to be a bit implausible- especially when they often require hours to reanimate (see The Walking Dead or the George Romero directed movies, for example). The Romero zombies are the slow and chomping, though one will note the remake of Dawn of the Dead decided to go with the fast and vicious brand, and probably was influenced directly by Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later, the latter of which realistically deals with the issues you raised about energy consumption- those “zombies” are just living people infected with a rage virus, and starve out by the end of the movie.

I don’t find it implausible that a fast and vicious zombie plague might quickly get out of control of armed and uninfected population.

albatross July 1, 2013 at 11:44 am

Normal contagious diseases that kill lots of people can in principle be devastating. Zombies just add physical hazards (which aren’t all that scary if you’re armed or prepared, but you might run out of bullets before they run out of heads) and self-propelled spread of the disease (which is probably a lot scarier long-term). To make it more fun, assume that shooting someone in the head aerosolizes the virus, and that the virus is pretty robust so it persists in the environment for a long time. Or assume some kind of hive behavior, so that the zombie hive is actually relatively smart even though individual members aren’t.

John Schilling July 1, 2013 at 4:37 pm

Even the fast/vicious zombies are no more physically threatening than, say, man-eating tigers. Or wolves, assuming cooperative behavior among the zombies. Yet civilization has never been seriously threatened by man-eating beasts of any sort, even when all we had to match against them were swords and spears. If we add the clever feature that every person who is killed by a wolf or tiger becomes a man-eating wolf or tiger, does that change the analysis much? Not really, certainly not in a world that can substitute guns and flamethrowers for swords and spears.

If you want to make zombies truly, plausibly frightening, get rid of two of the staples of zombie lore: the grotesque decaying flesh, and the 100% incurability. If zombies still look human, if zombie bites only turn half of the infected into zombies, if zombie-hood can be cured half the time but only by intensive medical treatment impractical to administer on a mass scale in a war zone, that would be truly frightening. The same countermeasures that work against standard-issue Hollywood zombies would still in principle work – guns, flamethrowers, shoot first and ask questions later, kill anyone who gets bit – but there isn’t the slightest chance that anyone would be allowed to implement them until it was far too late. Shooting people, people who don’t mean to do you any harm, who can’t help what they are, and who can be cured? People who are your friends and family? Not going to happen.

Brooks touches on this a bit in the book, in the early stages of the infestation when the nature of the threat isn’t fully understood. Books in general have a bit more latitude to explore that sort of nuance. But the decaying flesh, the inhuman monstrosity and the inevitability of outcome are too deeply ingrained in the cinematic conception of a zombie to be dispensed with just because it would make for a more credible threat, not when you’ve only got two and a half hours to tell your zombie story from start to finish.

Myron June 30, 2013 at 5:32 pm

Zombies can survive for long periods without eating because they are already dead.

The book at least is pretty explicit in that the zombies are dangerous precisely because its slmost impossible to kill them. I’ve seen criticism along the lines of “this is stupid, the US military just has to use its advance mass-casualty producing weaponry to take out the zombies”. Actually in the book this this approach is tried, in Yonkers, and fails. The conceit in the book is that the “zombie” is actually a virus that resides mainly in the brain, so the virus will work with whatever it has to work with unless you specifically take out the head. The movie muddles this somewhat by suggesting that burning zombies is effective.

Max Brooks seems to have developed his theories of zombies by coming up with a concept that would explain all those older zombie movies, where people were so worried about things they could outtalk.

Myron June 30, 2013 at 5:43 pm

Incidentally, the book does not feature the new fangled fast vicious zombies that the movie does. The danger in the book is from the classic slow walking zombies, the problem being that they are persistent and almost indestructible. The book even has a passage where a Japanese teenager who spends all his time on the internet out-walks the zombies to get all the way to the other side of Japan (the country was evacuated by the character is too engrossed online to pay attention to the evacuation order) to meet up with the only other healthy human left in Japan, an blind gardener.

I don’t mind the movie being so different from the book, by the way, since I think the book is unfilmable. It is much too episodic. Apparently the movie producers tried to film the book but eventually came to agree with me.

JWatts June 30, 2013 at 7:18 pm

I’ve seen criticism along the lines of “this is stupid, the US military just has to use its advance mass-casualty producing weaponry to take out the zombies”. Actually in the book this this approach is tried, in Yonkers, and fails.

That’s what Brooks wrote, but let’s face it his logic is silly. The Battle of Yonkers is fought by the US Military assuming the role of the Coyote from a Loony Tunes cartoon. He goes into great detail to explain how armor piercing rounds from M1′s wouldn’t be effective against Zombies, but ignores the rather obvious “why don’t I just drive over the zombie’s and crush them between my treads” tactic.

Gunnar Tveiten July 4, 2013 at 5:11 am

Yeah, that elephant is pretty big. You see the same thing in the Last of Us where zombies are still figthing the last surviving humans after 20 *years*. Despite the plain fact that once killed, they stay dead, and one armed human can trivially kill dozens or hundreds of the things. It does have a gestation-period of perhaps 5-10 hours, but the obvious and trivial countermeasure to that is to quarantine anyone who’s been outside the safe-zone for 12 hours.

Tarrou June 29, 2013 at 10:25 pm


I agree to some degree, and I think it all hinges on the length of gestation of the zombie “virus”. A long gestation would produce a more spread out first outbreak, as people would have time to travel. One as fast as in the movie (a few seconds) would spread rapidly, but burn itself out just as quickly. The WWZ movie made no sense because the virus spreads in seconds, but appears around the world. Were they airdropped?

And you’re right, the concept of zombies just doesn’t work, they have to get energy from somewhere. They are not above the laws of physics. Decay, heat, cold and insects would do the work once the zombie population ceased to grow.

A Berman June 30, 2013 at 6:03 am

In the opening scenes, the virus spreads in seconds. However, later in the movie, there are conversations about the virus taking up to fifteen minutes to activate. This leaves open the possibility that mutations sped it up and that it spent some time traveling even more slowly and thus quietly.

john June 29, 2013 at 11:37 pm

Pitt races non stop around the world, barely spending 10 minutes in one place, until he reaches Wales, where he finally takes a (well deserved, BTW) Pepsi break. I hear that single product placement paid for writing out the mega battle in Moscow and allow him to talk his way through to Nova Scotia for a reunion with his extremely likable and useful family, and broach the potential for a sequel.

There is a reason these come out in the summer.

(I have never seen a C130 take off from a United Nations Atlantic Fleet (UN?) aircraft carrier off the east coast and fly all the way to South Korea. No wonder the pilot said he was landing on fumes.)

Steve Sailer June 30, 2013 at 12:01 am


If being a UN rather than a US operative keeps Angelina happy, Brad will play along.

JWatts June 30, 2013 at 5:33 pm

I read somewhere that they actually had a “UN” carrier in the movie. Did they attempt to explain it, or were the Hollywood types too dim to realize there isn’t any such thing?

Myron June 30, 2013 at 5:35 pm

Those “UN” ships were apparently actually Royal Navy ships masquerading as US ships masquerading as UN ships.

Andrew' June 30, 2013 at 10:21 am

“Such tomfoolery works only on Americans” Or maybe we just don’t get offended. Or we don’t have people on the payroll to look for Straussian symbolism that should offend us. Or maybe Americans just believe the intentional fallacy theory. Anyway, if Obama ever calls you to be the movie review czar turn him down!

Finch June 30, 2013 at 12:21 pm


And it appeals to the self-hate crowd.

Squarely Rooted June 30, 2013 at 11:28 am

Man, can people of reasonable intelligence just banish the term “politically [in]correct?” It doesn’t mean anything, nobody cares.

Gabriel E June 30, 2013 at 1:01 pm

Perhaps I’m of unreasonable intelligence, or simply reasonably unintelligent, but I thought “political correctness” to be fairly well defined.

Racism, to take a very obvious example, is considered to be politically incorrect, and that’s why people get in trouble when they use the “N Word”.

Not defending, in fact mostly opposed to PC-ness. But I’m pretty sure it means something in our culture.

Skip Intro June 30, 2013 at 2:34 pm

When you write, “people get in trouble when they use the ‘N word’”, is your argument that speech should never generate consequences?

albatross July 1, 2013 at 11:34 am

You could almost substitute the word “heresy” for “political correctness.” Politically incorrect ideas are ideas that you can expect to be punished (fired, ostracised, etc.) for expressing, regardless of their truth or falsehood. Many politically incorrect ideas are also wrong, but their wrongness is irrelevant.

Skip Intro July 1, 2013 at 5:19 pm

I take your point and appreciate the thoughtful reply, but I’m not sure it speaks to what I was at least trying to say. Actions have consequences. – this used to be a foundation of conservative thought.

It seems that, today, people often use the term “politically incorrect” to bemoan the fact that they can’t offend others without censure.

albatross July 1, 2013 at 8:34 pm

It looks to me like it’s common to use “I’m not politically correct” to mean any of:

a. I want to crap in the pool and have people invite me back to their next pool party anyway.

b. I want to claim to be edgy and daring without having to actually do any original thinking or anything.

c. I want to talk about ideas or topics that are upsetting to many people for good or bad reasons, but which are genuinely important.

It’s often not easy to distinguish these cases–when someone has just said somethign that upsets or disturbs you, and that nobody ever says in public, it’s very natural to get mad and decide they’re just crapping in the pool. And it is a very common debating tactic to try to move a public discussion from a question of facts to a question of why you are such an evil insensitive bastard as to bring up this matter at all.

Depending on your audience, try bringing up objective evidence for a large and persistent IQ difference between blacks and whites, or for US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, or for a low recidivism rate among child sex offenders, and you can experience this phenomenon yourself, complete with ostracism and shocked stares. Go further into Ward Churchill or James Watson terrotory, and you can be hounded out of a job, not for being wrong, but for being offensive in your expressed ideas. (Either or both may well have been wrong, but many people are as wrong as either man in public every day of the week. Being wrong doesn’t get you hounded out of a job, but being offensive to too many people with the power to cause you trouble sure does!)

TGGP June 30, 2013 at 2:37 pm

I asked just what makes something “politically incorrect” some years ago, and think Hopefully Anonymous made the best stab at a definition.

Steve Sailer June 30, 2013 at 6:27 pm

An obvious example: Jason Richwine’s Harvard dissertation was politically incorrect.

Steve Sailer June 30, 2013 at 6:28 pm

Here’s Hopefully Anonymous’s definition from TGGP’s website:

“I think a useful, natural definition is where there are social mechanisms to reduce the expression of an idea for reasons other than its utility in creating the most accurate models of reality. It’s not that the idea is empirically incorrect, it’s that it’s politically incorrect.”

Richwine’s Ph.D. dissertation on immigration and intelligence would be a classic example.

Yancey Ward June 30, 2013 at 2:30 pm

I think the movie could have been better if it had focused more on the chaos of the collapse of the cities, and spent less time in the conventional search for “patient zero”. In other words, it should have been more of a conventional disaster movie, and less of a sleuthing one.

The bad part, and the part that is going to really make it difficult for the sequels they claim to be preparing, is the rewritten ending. Once the living are camouflaged, where do you do from there?

Mike Schneider July 10, 2013 at 9:50 pm

More pragmatically, difficult to end the movie as originally intended when that’s more or less the same premise at the start of THE WALKING DEAD TV series.

gubbler chechenova July 14, 2013 at 6:00 pm



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