The very first time I read The Girl Who Was Plugged in, I was caught off guard by the fact that Tiptree used the word ‘zombie’ twice (Tiptree, 1 & 31). Why would she refer to her readers and or audience as zombies? Zombies, for me, were the creepy dead then not dead go to costume everyone would use for Halloween. That’s why her using it to refer to her audience struck me as strange.
The first definition the Oxford Dictionary offered was: a zombie is a soulless corpse brought back to life by witchcraft. This definition was the definition I was expecting. I knew zombies were dead people who walked around with their arms extended and made noises like uooo, eii. I tried to use some onomatopoeia, failed! Back to the point, it wasn’t until I read the other definitions that I was able to get a new perspective on zombies. Among the many, surprising, definitions one I quite liked was: zombies were black shapeless things that were brought back from the dead by evil voodoo priests. Another definition of zombie was a dull, indifferent person.
After reading the first definition I thought of P. Burke and how she was a zombie due to the fact that she was a corpse just rotting away while her brain was being used. She wasn’t technically brought back to life, but I believe she was given a second chance at life. Which to some can mean forgetting the old life and starting a new life. Being ‘reborn’. When I read the last definition I stated above, that’s when I changed my attention from P. Burke to us. Yes, I think Tiptree referred to her audience as zombies, but maybe she did because they are. This is set in a future that we don’t know yet, a future where pollution is bad and we no longer have a brain, well our own thoughts. She was referring to them as dull, indifferent people who no longer think for themselves.
Now that I’ve been exposed to the many definitions of zombie, one being an alcoholic beverage, I can see why Tiptree used this word. One, we usually never see this word unless we are reading scary books or watching Scooby Doo, in my case. It caught me off guard because I hadn’t seen it used in this context. Tiptree used it to be, one, honest and, two, catch the reader off guard. I first thought it was strange and rude she would address her audience with such words and tone. Now I see that they are individuals who are indifferent to what is happening around them. So she addressed them as she saw fit, mindless, thoughtless people.
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