Warm Bodies & What Makes Us Human

Since this recently came up in discussion between some aros, I thought now would be a good time to air some old grievances about a certain movie trailer.  The exact compilation of clips I first encountered was one of those YouTube ads that shows up before it’ll let you watch a video, with some slight differences from the official trailers, so bear in mind that the only versions accessible now are going to be slightly different than my first exposure to it.

Here’s a summary of what the above trailer shows us:

  1. protagonist is a zombie
  2. protagonist indicates romantic/sexual attraction to a girl
  3. protagonist is then implied to be becoming more human
  4. titlecards outright declare “LOVE MAKES US HUMAN

Not a whole lot of equivocating, there.

Hopefully you can understand how I came to interpret this as saying that romantic attraction (accompanied by sexual attraction) is a necessary component and a defining trait of humanity.

It’s frustrating, because I wanted to like this movie.  I’m a sucker for redeemable monster stories.  And it’s frustrating that the friends* I tried to talk to about this both thought I was misinterpreting it or reading things into it where there weren’t any.

*We don’t talk much anymore.

The ad I initially saw was more similar to Official Trailer #2 in that it overlaid the audio “He’s changing, and he’s learning to be human again” over the clips of the protagonist watching the girl undress.  To me, it seemed unambiguous.

Granted, it’s possible to interpret the trailer not as saying that only romantic-sexual love makes us human, but that it’s all love, in general, including familial and nonromantic love, which makes us human (a proposition I would also disagree with, but that’s another matter).

If I were forced to interpret this movie in the most optimistic way possible, that’s what I might go for.

But considering that the movie situates itself within the romantic comedy genre, the history of how previous examples in media have handled the “nonhuman creature becomes human” narrative, and the near-ubiquitous habit in Western speech to use “love” to most frequently refer to “romantic love” (and “relationships” to most frequently mean “romantic relationships”), I can’t have faith that most people will read it that way.  There are actual people who think that romantic(-sexual) attraction is a universal human experience and “what makes us alive,” and this trailer engages with that perspective without challenging it.

I don’t care about what the actual movie said, and I don’t care about what the creators meant for it to say, and I don’t care how it optimistically can be seen as saying.  I care that lots of people saw this trailer and didn’t object to it.  I care that it allows itself to be read in a way that dehumanizes aromantic asexuals, and that it allows that easily and readily.

And I care that no one bats an eyelash.

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4 responses to “Warm Bodies & What Makes Us Human

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