Wow. io9′s found out that in the script for Army of the Dead, a zombie picture Zack Snyder is producing, zombies reproduce by raping human women.
Regular readers know that I’m not categorically opposed to scenes of rape and sexual assault in art, and in fact, I think they can serve to educate readers and viewers about the horrors of being attacked. We do, after all, live in a world where Johnny Depp can compare a photoshoot to getting raped. Education in sympathy is still very important. But it sounds like there’s strong potential for grossness-for-grossness’s sake here, a la the Human Centipede movies. You don’t actually need to have zombies rape women to get the message across the audience that zombies are gross and it would be better not to be one. I suppose along the same lines, The Walking Dead didn’t actually need to show a horse being ripped apart by a horde of zombies — one of the most disgusting things I’ve ever seen on television or in any medium — though that scene did provide a sense of vast, massing hunger. It may have been very difficult to watch, but it wasn’t artistically irredeemable.
I suppose I can see a scenario where the threat of sexual assault means that the women of quarantined Las Vegas end up leading the fight against the city’s zombies, cocktail waitresses, card dealers, and strippers teaming up to do what the government, which isolated the city, can’t. I’m not saying a scenario like that couldn’t be empowering under any circumstances, but it would be much more likely, if the movie even went that way, to be the kind of thing that thinks it’s sophisticated because it’s sexual, violent, and sexually violent. More likely, the fight against the zombies will end up being a major airlift in aid of hookers with hearts of gold. Or just plain vile and unredemptive. Either way, rape as a means of conquest is not something that should be approached lightly or enlisted just for its gross-out factor.