28 Weeks Later - We've Lost Control

Curator's Note

28 Weeks Later, a 2007 sequel to 28 Days Later serves as an example of the proliferation of zombie infection narratives in current cultural discourse.  These narratives signify a deeper problematic about the nature of control in a distributed network society.  In the film, 28 weeks after the “rage” virus destroyed England, turning majority of population into the “infected”  - the word “zombie” is never used by the films although the infected are interpreted as super fast zombies - the virus is contained and military forces open London for repopulation.  Forming a Green Zone, a heavily surveyed, heavily guarded, and heavily regulated territory, located inside London proper, military is slowly allowing limited numbers of refugees to return to that part of the city.  The efforts are highly militarized, surveyed, and curfewed.   

However as the virus spreads once more and military forces lose control, the film exemplifies not just the futility of modern warfare and surveillance to contain viral conditions of terrorism and infection in the postmodern and postglobal world, but also an overarching problematic of what it means to loose, or to keep control in the network.  It is the same problematic that informs discourse about the threat of zombie-bots or the warnings about a latest worm, or a computer virus, that threatens to infect the network and hijack your computer. I would argue that this problematic is directly connected to an yet fully recognized quality of the network – network, not as inanimate or inhuman object, but rather as a fully live [post]human entity.  The constant movement of information in networks encourages volatile spaces, random relationships, and zombie emergence.  It also makes networks a subject of constant resistance as supposed to constant control.  The behavior of nodes, or what Deleuze terms “dividuals”, in the network is dependent on the topology of the network; in those terms control in the network only functions as long as the topologies are not affected, or infected, by other life. However, we need to question the very assumption that a network can only exist as a topology.  Therefore, if we are going to conceptualize control in the network then we have to make allowances for those elements that are fully alive without the necessity of being human.  In other words, if we are all just a little bit infected by the virus then all networks are viral and we, as nodes in networks, are all already (post)human.   


Grant Wythoff's picture

superheroes and control

This is interesting in relation to another subset of SF wildly popular today, the superhero movie.

Contrast the above scene in 28 Weeks Later to the fantasy of superhero control in the recent Iron Man movie, where Tony Stark’s HUD automatically separates the friendlies from the terrorists, allowing him to surgically target them out of a dense crowd.

Geoff Klock:  "…superheroes most often occupy a reactionary role, traditionally emerging only to meet a threat to the status quo.  Large-scale social changes are a supervillain signature, manifesting when one wishes to take over the world or, alternatively, to destroy all human life, allowing nature to grow without humanity’s ecological poisoning, for example. "


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