Text Review: Themes of Gender Equality in 28 Days Later

At face value, 28 Days Later is another zombie flick: a film about a group of people who struggle for survival in a twisted version of our own world in which some event has resulted in the transformation of most of the human population into mindless, angry cannibals. While the premise of many of these films is the same, one must not forget to look for ways in which this genre may critique our world through its own. Fiction offers a way for us to view the flaws in which we act as people because it presents a world, often one that is not spectacularly different from our own, through which we can view the absurdities and contradictions of our way of life from an outside perspective. In the context of the disaster genre, we are shown the degree to which we take our comfortable and convenient lives for granted. Disaster films, especially ones in which the main characters are isolated or pressed for survival, can and do offer valuable critiques on our fallacious social constructs.


Many would be surprised to find that 28 Days Later, a film which presents to its audience an experience that pretends to be nothing more than a horror film featuring armies of flesh-eating enemies, takes advantage of its setting and circumstances to make valuable points about gender equality.


A common trope in zombie films remains the idea that humans can be enemies to the same degree as zombies, with the main separation between human enemies and the undead being the nature of their malice. In 28 Days Later, the protagonists Jim and Selena arrive at a military compound which presents itself as a refuge from the hordes of people infected with the Rage virus. It is later at this compound that they learn that the refuge is a trap in order to capture female survivors, who are then supposed to be inducted as slaves in an attempt to repopulate the United Kingdom.

28 Days Later is unique among films of its type in that it critiques the common damsel-in-distress archetype by featuring the female protagonist as strong and competent. Selena is often responsible for protecting or saving other characters, and in this sense, she rejects the classification outlined by Simone de Beauvoir in her introduction to The Second Sex, in which women are viewed as being different from the default, or as a simple derivative of man.


With the world in ruins, 28 Days Later is able to pick apart assumptions we have about gender. With the collapse of the world’s traditional systems of social control, the various stereotypes and negative dualities of gender fall with it. Selena’s rejection of these categorizations represents a return to normal. Upon my first viewing of the film, one quote stood out to me as proof of the film’s deeper meaning:

“If you look at the whole life of the planet, we, you know, man has only been around for a few blinks of an eye. So, if the infection wipes us all out… that is a return to normality.”

To say that the disaster genre is capable of showing a world without social constructs is an understatement. In fact, as illustrated by the quote above, the film is aware of it.

Yo, Is This Racist… – Celebrities and Racial Dialogue in America

Yo, Is This Racist…

mason.1009, sienko.4, and clements.172

Episode #1

Episode Transcript

19:16:33 Hey guys welcome back to our podcast of Yo Is This Racist, together I''m here with my fellow co hosts, and we're going to be diving in a little bit more about potential racism within celebrities and with Hollywood.
19:16:49 Now our first topic of discussion is going to be about Kendall Jenner. She recently launched a tequila brand, and she''s claiming that this is going to be the best tequila, ever.
19:17:01 However, she's gotten a lot of backlash within the media, and people are saying that she is appropriating tequila companies, and the Mexican culture.
19:17:11 So we're going to get started talking about this. First off, what do you guys think or what were your initial thoughts when you first saw that she released that tequila brand.
19:17:21 Well, I mean, one of the things I think about starting a business, especially in the context of a business that one might accuse of appropriating someone's culture is the fact that I mean with a business it relies on people buying their product.
19:17:37 So at the end of the day I mean if it's well known that this person is doing something that, in your opinion isn't doing a good job or is doing something that you consider wrong, I mean you can always not buy their product and in some instances the backlash
19:17:52 over this might lead to more people buying from traditional suppliers.
19:17:57 Yeah, I agree, I... when I first heard that Kendall Jenner was coming out with a tequila, I was kind of taken back by it because I only know her as a model and a personality.
19:18:11 So it made me question what made her get into this and she kept this a secret for so long. So I was very confused at first, about what would make her want to make a tequila, like tequila is known for being more Mexican; Latinos, they're the ones that make
19:18:29 these tequilas, and I even found a quote that said, "this is a joke for real to tequila makers," what Kendall did was literally make a bottle and found a bigger brand that bottles quote her tequila.
19:18:42 I found that by the writer Tyler Chin on gearpatrol.com, and it also said that a lot of people were angry that a non Mexican person was profiting off the Mexican product when so many Mexicans rely on making and selling tequila to support their families.
19:19:01 I suppose you could say that it's shameful. I mean we're used to celebrities doing shameful things to make money. And I'm not really surprised. I mean, you see it all the time you see you see a product line from a celebrity. I mean,
19:19:17 Justin Bieber had a clothing line. I mean, Tyler crater has a good clothing line.
19:19:23 But, I mean, it's not it's not uncommon for a celebrity to create and shill a product that is both terrible and something that they didn't even wholly create.
19:19:39 I yes, I guess, sorry, but I saw something that Kendall, since she's the one making the business, they're saying that she's going to be making so much money off of this, this particular company, but she was like, are these players who work in like the
19:19:56 the agave fields which are growing in Mexico normally like are these farmers going to be making more money because of her company, and people were talking about like, are they going to be getting any more benefits than just their CEO I guess is a millionaire,
19:20:10 you know what I mean. And also, I think another thing that is important to consider too is that since Kendall's...
19:20:19 I guess you brought this up earlier to have Kendall selling this tequila, who are the people buying and supporting this business and like I also feel like that could be a potential problem too is a lot of the time people just shop from companies and
19:20:31 shop for products, and they don't really care about the company's morals or values, or if they're offending a certain culture while doing it.
19:20:42 I think that a lot of people buy things just to try things out without really diving into what is going on behind the scenes. For example, Travis Scott coming out with a new seltzer, a lot of people were buying it just to say oh I tried it and have their
19:21:00 opinion on that so I wonder who's going to be buying this tequila just so they can say, I bought Kendall Jenner tequila, and then form their opinion based on that.
19:21:10 Well I mean if it's a, if it's a fad. It just rises up and then falls really quickly. I don't really think that it could create any lasting damage. I mean maybe if she created a brand that was extremely successful in the long term.
19:21:26 And I don't know if it's... that's looking to be the case, especially if this tequila according to traditional makers of it isn't very good.
19:21:34 It looks like this might be a quick jump. And then a fall.
19:21:39 The controversy... the fact that there's a controversy over it isn't really helping our case, although controversy in many cases can sell.
19:21:47 We witnessed that just this month, or maybe last month with the Dr. Seuss books.
19:21:55 Whenever there's some kind of upheaval or some, some massive or what people perceive to be some world ending event is always a surge in sales, surge in prices... people are willing to be opportunistic.
19:22:08 I don't know if it will change the tequila market, or really affect people who are producing it traditionally, if you're just a casual tequila consumer, you're definitely not going to be checking to make sure that tequila you're drinking is traditionally
19:22:24 produced or, or for quality, and people like that will probably try Kendall Jenner's brand once, determine it to be subpar or exactly the same as a commercial brand that she's copying from and move on.
19:22:39 I don't know if it'll truly make a huge impact.
19:22:44 But, I mean it's processes like these that prevent people from straight up destroying someone's market.
19:22:53 Yeah, I guess. Some other problems people were having with the bottle was that she messed up I guess the labeling, like it's... I think it's supposed to be like 'Blanco Tequila', but I think in Spanish, it's technically 'Tequila Blanco' because the adjective
19:23:10 comes, I think after the word. I might be butchering it but people were having a problem with that, saying that she wasn't even able to accurately have the correct label, in terms of the Spanish culture, which I also thought was interesting and she also
19:23:28 was drinking the tequila on the rocks, and that's just not a traditional way to drink tequila. So I guess other people were having a problem with that as well, which I thought was interesting that she wasn't even using it unlike a traditional sense.
19:23:43 This is a similar.
19:23:46 In my opinion to the pizza effect, I mean you could give it any names but Americans, generally like to import a culture, or some some food or product from another culture and then change it to American tastes.
19:24:01 And if you if you go to Italy, and you try the pizza there it's very different from what you might get at a regular pizza chain in America, Chinese food
19:24:14 Similarly, and although I mean a lot of these products are produced by immigrants, and they tweak it for their market. I mean, they're business people first.
19:24:19 But it is kind of interesting to see someone selling something that, that they have no connection to. It does seem disingenuous, and it doesn't really seem honest but I don't really think we expect too much honestly from famous celebrities.
19:24:39 So I'm not surprised, but I'm not because I'm not surprised I don't think it's going to be a huge difference.
19:24:52 Yeah.
19:24:54 And I guess another thing that some people were saying that other celebrities, including The Rock and Justin Timberlake also have tequila brands, and they have not seen received this amount of backlash compared to her because she is a woman in the media but.
19:25:08 So that's also something else to consider, I guess.
19:25:13 We also have another similarity with celebrities that are accused of using something to exploit their own music is Justin Bieber. He recently released an album called Justice, and in one of his songs he has an MLK speech, and the verse is stand up for justice
19:25:34 is what Martin... Martin Luther King says, but Justin cuts it off so it sounds like it's saying, "stand up for justice." What do you guys think about this.
19:25:44 Do you think it's right or wrong or what's your opinion?
19:25:47 I think in terms of the shamelessness, it's about on par if not worse than what Kendall Jenner did.
19:25:55 I think in this case, this is just a case of someone commercializing social justice. It's not uncommon to see Martin Luther King portrayed in popular culture.
19:26:06 And it's not uncommon, especially in hip hop and pop music to see it, social justice movements portrayed in a certain way or leaders quoted, and it's not uncommon at all to see cultural issues discussed, I mean that's a lot of popular music cultural
19:26:23 issues are the reason that the song was created. Killer Mike is a big example
19:26:31 MF DOOM, who recently passed away.
19:26:35 Carlee, what do you think. Um, I read an article that said, a lot of people think it's performative nonsense. And I kind of agree because of Justin Bieber, he says he's not trying to make a connection between himself and Martin Luther King, which he shouldn't.
19:26:54 But I don't understand, if he thinks that he has a lot more educating he needs to do, why would he even go there and try to include something that he knows is going to be controversial, especially in today's society where we're facing a lot of racism,
19:27:11 and we're still trying to combat that. So I was just kind of confused why, if he knew what was going on in society, why would you want to put himself in a position where he would potentially face this type of backlash.
19:27:26 I think you make a really good point. Um, I saw that the song where he has stand up for justice in it from Martin Luther King. It's a song about his wife, so it's kind of, I guess, confusing as why would he bring that in when it's not even about, I guess,
19:27:42 inequality, it's about like his wife, but I also did see an article where Justin Bieber was talking about it saying how he was trying to bring education and awareness to the Black Lives Matter movement and to racism in America and in Canada, he said in
19:27:57 Canada where he grew up he wasn't even like aware and fully educated about all this and he said that he has such a large platform, which he does, so he wanted to bring more attention, and he also had started a campaign for a lot of other like justice movements.
19:28:13 And I think this is where I'm confused because I'm happy that he's wanting to educate Americans and all his huge influence more about the true racism that's existing in America, but I don't think going about his way of how he did it with his album is
19:28:32 not fully appropriate.
19:28:35 I know he's received different backlash and everything and I think it is a little bit absurd, because I think that he can.
19:28:42 He can, he can do a lot, and bring a lot of awareness, but that's also like, I don't know.
19:28:58 It does sound like the celebrity cop out though, saying, I mean, people people getting mad at him, he argues that oh I''m trying to raise awareness. I know very few people who aren't aware of Martin Luther King.
19:29:03 And if people weren't aware of Martin Luther King is out there be such a huge response to it.
19:29:10 In this case I think he tried to get away with it, couldn't get away with it, and tried to use this excuse as a cop out I, I, I doubt that Justin Bieber is really educating people with several second sample of him.
19:29:28 I agree, I think he just wasn't thinking, and thought this would be the right thing to do, to mention a social issue in a song, thinking it would have a positive effect, and instead it had a negative effect.
19:29:42 So,
19:29:46 yeah, I guess one final thought is that I did see that one of Martin Luther King's ancestors reached out to Justin Bieber, praising him and like approving of what he did, so I guess it depends on how different people feel but I do think
19:30:03 that Justin should have done things in a more appropriate way.
19:30:09 Celebrities have such a big platform, and I think sometimes they find difficulties trying to use that platform in a way that won't cause controversy in a way that doesn't have their morals questioned, and I think it just came down to the fact where this
19:30:26 is just something that he, you know, he thought would make a positive impact.
19:30:32 And everyone has their own opinion on it so.. What's our verdict: racist or not racist?
19:30:41 I mean I don't want to say full on racist but I definitely don't think it's not...
19:30:48 Maybe not politically correct, I'll put it that way. Yeah, I agree. I think maybe it's just not appropriate.
19:30:54 I'd say it wasn't racist it's just a little embarrassing.

Social Justice as an Aesthetic

Since early 2020 (and one could argue even earlier) there has been an increased focus in general on social justice, and in particular, the ability of governments, companies, and individuals to make positive change to address both current societal issues and issues stemming from the past with respect to the treatment, visibility, and rights of minorities in the United States. It is no coincidence that messages of these ideas spread like wildfire throughout social media, where sharing ideas, even with the threat of a minor controversy, is extremely convenient and easy. These messages and pro-social justice accounts are not new, and groups dedicated to maintaining these accounts and propagating their messages have always existed, but the ability to spread messages quickly for free is a new phenomenon, and the results of this newfound ability are not always positive. With any movement there comes a risk of that movement becoming little more than a vehicle for some to display their own virtue as a subtle form of bragging to others.

Many of us most likely witnessed the way in which this materialized, often from the same people, and sometimes from people whom we did not expect. Perhaps you even saw an example of such a post today. These posts are often from pages with questionable owners and ethically dubious business models often using stolen or reused content.

An example of the format of these popular consumable posts Source: https://thedesignofculture.com/instagram-activism/

The problems with these pages however is not that they come from ethically questionable sources. The fact that they are designed so well and have a simple, modern look makes them appeal to young people, who tend to be more interested in maintaining an “aesthetic,” or a consistent look that allows their pages to be more presentable.

The tragedy of such a trend is that the guides and posts often shared are widely accessible by many people, easy to read, and pleasant on the eyes, so they can be used as vehicles for spreading awareness, but the way in which people abuse a simple sharing of them for the selfish purpose of appearing “woke” or appearing to be compassionate or virtuous is narcissistic at best and nefarious at worst.


@feminist: a popular feminism-themed Instagram page promoting gender issues was recently discovered to be run exclusively by two white men as an online business. Source: https://therevivalzine.com/2020/10/26/the-truth-behind-instagram-account-feminist/

You may be tempted to share some of these posts on your social media page, but it is important to investigate the sources and determine whether they are truly attempting to spread awareness of a lesser-known issue or they are simply producing another consumable product to be sold.

Before sharing ask yourself, am I giving my friends valuable information, am I honestly sharing my enthusiasm for solving these social problems through action, am I providing material support (donations and physical aid), or am I simply using these quick messages to pad my social credit score?

Sharing without truly helping seems harmless, but without making any further attempts to contribute to a movement, you are doing little to support it; instead, you are unintentionally diluting a message through reckless repetition.

More information:

Vox: How social justice slideshows took over Instagram

The Do-Gooder Ploy: Social justice as a business model

Week #7 Context Presentation: The Middle East and Islamic Revolution

For week 7’s class, we cover Marjane Satrapi’s autobiographical series Persepolis, which centers around the Islamic revolution (otherwise known as the Iranian revolution). During the Iranian revolution from 1978 to 1979, the uprising occurred much like any other uprising in history. Before the revolution, the monarchy in power in Iran known as the Shah had been steadily accumulating power. The first cracks in the regime appeared when a group of scholars published open letters which were openly critical of the regime and protests against the Shah mounted up during its first year (Maloney and Razipour).

The cycle of violence that often springs forth from even peaceful protests can prompt further escalation of tensions between a ruling state and an oppressed people. Anyone who has remotely glanced at the history of the United States should be familiar with the Boston Massacre, a protest against British colonial rule which resulted in the deaths of protestors and spread popular opposition to colonial rule among the American people at the time.

Many of these events are central to popular revolutions. In an attempt to control the effects of protests, people are killed by the ruling government, and the atrocities result in further protests. This cycle creates a feedback look of ever-accumulating popular support until a state is overrun. Such a sequence of events exactly transpired in Iran during this revolution when students protesting the Shah were killed in early months of 1978 (Maloney and Razipour).

Unfortunately, contemporary conflicts in Iran have lead to the nation’s portrayal by Americans as a hotbed of terrorism and religious fundamentalism, and Marjane Satrapi addresses these perceptions from her perspective in the introduction of Persepolis. She writes: “since [the revolution], [Iran] has been discussed mostly in connection with fundamentalism, fanaticism, and terrorism. As an Iranian who has lived more than half of my life in Iran, I know that this image is far from the truth. That is why writing Persepolis was so important to me. I believe that an entire nation should not be judged by the wrongdoings of a few extremists” (Satrapi, Introduction).

Such a statement reinforces the idea that it is important to consult the people who lived through such an important and widely studied social shift. Instead of analyzing the results of the revolution from a western lens, we should instead view it in the context of the lived experience of someone who witnessed it and came of age during it. Without a diversity of voices surrounding an event, we are doomed to allow the victors to write the history books.


Maloney, Suzanne, and Keian Razipour. “The Iranian Revolution-A Timeline of Events.” Brookings, Brookings, 7 Feb. 2019, www.brookings.edu/blog/order-from-chaos/2019/01/24/the-iranian-revolution-a-timeline-of-events/.

Satrapi, Marjane. Persepolis, Pantheon Books, 2004.

Katouzian, Homa. “The Iranian Revolution of February 1979.” Middle East Institute, 29 Jan. 2009, www.mei.edu/publications/iranian-revolution-february-1979.