Zombie-like behavior stirs public interest

Six gory events conjure zombie allusions

TAMPA - At Shooting Sports gun range in Tampa, there is a new bad guy to shoot at.

"We have the butcher," said Fred Flesche, showing off a target with a zombie on it.

Zombie targets are the new best seller.

"Our assistant manager ordered targets, and when she showed me, I thought, 'What's this all about?'  What is a zombie?  This is when everything started to get going," said Flesche.

Zombies seem to be closing in on us everywhere.

Six real and gory incidents have made news recently, including a Miami man who gnawed-off another man's face (see http://wfts.tv/L6v3kB ).  Then there's the Maryland man accused of killing and then eating his roommate's heart and brain (see http://wfts.tv/LctfXo ).  A New Jersey man stabbed himself 50 times and threw bits of his intestines at police.

"People like to make these connections," said Dr. Elizabeth Bird, USF Professor of Anthropology.

Doctors Amy Rust and Elizabeth Bird are not zombie experts, but the humanities and anthropology professors at the University of South Florida do have theories about why zombies are so hot right now. They believe it has a lot to do with the economic climate dragging us down.

"This idea that we're all barely getting by, that there is an idea of barely being alive.  I think that its not surprising that zombies sort of get brought to the table," explained Rust.

Bird also says there's a lot of end-of-the-world talk too.

"Zombies are us, and not us, and they destroy us, so I think they've kind of stuck together a lot of these fears into a very potent symbol that is also at one level, kind of fun," said Bird.

Fun if it's just pretend, and you have the right ammo.

"It has been a big seller and has been very popular with people who are after the zombies," said Flesche showing us a hollow point bullet called ‘Zombie Max."

But if the zombie apocalypse really were to happen, you'd have plenty of practice.

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