May 13, 2011

Friday the 13th: Jason Voorhees is NOT a Zombie

This Friday the 13th, I thought I'd go on record and state that, in the opinion of The Zed Word: Zombie Blog, Jason Voorhees is NOT A ZOMBIE.

Here at The Zed Word, I review media from time to time that I don't truly consider to be zombie media. These films or books may have many elements in common with the zombie genre, or general fan consensus acknowledges them as important media associated with the zombie genre, but they are not -- by my definition - true zombie media. Take for example Tombs of the Blind Dead (review), The Revenant (review), or The Evil Dead (review). Not zombie films!

To me, there are three types of zombies. I defined them in a post from last year titled "What Are Zombies?". Zombies don't have to be dead to be zombies. Zombies don't have to eat flesh to be zombies. Zombies don't have to be slow to be zombies. The only thing that separates the zombie from any other creature is its lack of will and rational thought.
After his Zombie Card was revoked, Jason no longer qualified for discounts at the brain bank
Based on my own definitions, some may argue that Jason is in fact what I call one of the INSTINCT-DRIVEN UNDEAD: An ambulatory dead body reanimated in a corporeal state by scientific or supernatural means that interacts with the world through mechanical or instinctual behavior motivated by a powerful desire or instinct (often violent) that overrides rational thinking.
When is a walking corpse not a zombie?
In the Friday the 13th films, Jason Voorhees does exhibit a virtually single-minded desire to kill. This is true; Jason doesn't seem to think about anything but killing, yet his desire is far from mechanical or instinctual. His stalking, slashing, and countless creative kills suggest to me that, while Jason is certainly undead by the time he appears in Jason Lives, he's also fully cognizant and self-directed in his behaviour. You don't drag a woman out of her tent while she's in her sleeping bag and then beat her against a tree if you're mindlessly compelled to kill. That kind of violence takes creativity from a fully self-aware and self-controlled creature of evil.

Jason is undead. Don't get me wrong about that. As a result, he's often referred to as "Zombie Jason." I'm okay with that although it's not really a correct name. Calling Jason by the name "Zombie Jason" is the same as calling a Koala by the name  "Koala Bear" (pssst! Koalas aren't really bears). To define Jason as a zombie, however, in anything other than a colloquial sense ignores all the characteristics that make zombies unique. Therefore, Jason Voorhees is not a zombie! I just hope I don't incur any bad luck today for saying it.

Agree? Disagree? Leave a comment!