Zombies and weapons: examining blog responses to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention’s (CDC) ‘Preparedness 101: Zombie pandemic’ entertainment-education initiative


Emergency preparedness

How to Cite

Houghton F, Hopkins E. Zombies and weapons: examining blog responses to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention’s (CDC) ‘Preparedness 101: Zombie pandemic’ entertainment-education initiative. mir [Internet]. 24Mar.2024 [cited 23May2024];30(121):256-67. Available from: https://interrev.com/mir/index.php/mir/article/view/219


In an innovative attempt to engage adolescents and young adults in emergency preparedness, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) introduced its Preparedness 101: Zombie Pandemic entertainment-education initiative in 2011. This development received widespread attention and such popularity that the CDC’s website crashed as a result of the number of users attempting to access it. However, despite this atypical publicity, concerns have been raised about using this approach. Although some of the concerns focus on the efficacy of the zombie scenario to promote emergency preparedness, others have raised the issue of this theme promoting an unhealthy focus on weapons. To date the majority of this research noting the link between using such a theme and supporting a weapons culture has examined primary school children. This research uses content and reflexive thematic analysis to explore this potential unanticipated side-effect among a public audience. Five years of data from the CDC online blog was examined. Results indicate that over 10% of blog posts mentioned weapons. A number of themes of concern were identified from the blog posts relating to firearms, weapons, and killing. Although the CDC’s innovation is to be commended for its popular appeal, the use of a zombie theme links to wider media narratives that foreground weapons. As such it is recommended that such a theme should not be used in future public health interventions.



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