ICFA42 Presentation
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Here's my presentation for this year's International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts. This year's (in fact, last year's) topic is "Climate Change and the Anthropocene." I could not justify taking a plane to the US for the conference on this topic last year (as intriguing as the topic may have been), which was one reason why I didn't even submit a proposal (the other was that I would've had to pay the trip out of my own pockets). However, virtual participation is something different--even if, there is a carbon footprint involved, of course, as well.

Anyways, here's the abstract; the video is a little farther down.

When Contagion Trumps Climate Change: Re-Watching Attack of the Lederhosen Zombies in the Corona Winter

Released in 2016, the Austrian horror comedy Attack of the Lederhosen Zombies makes its climate change "subtext" very explicit early on: As the Tyrolean tourism industry anticipates financial trouble in view of global warming, the entrepreneur Franz Steiner "welcome[s]" a potential Russian investor "to the future" and presents a "miracle" which he considers a solution to "the fucking climate change." The chemical solution Franz uses to create snow that does not melt has an unwanted side-effect, though, as it turns humans into zombies. In so doing, the film explores what effects a planetary transformation such as global warming (entangled as it is with global capitalism) might have on particular places.

However, when re-watching the film in early December 2020, the climate change context becomes overshadowed by the viral contagion at the heart of the zombie narrative. After all, in spring 2020, Ischgl gained international notoriety as a "superspreading transmission hub," as, for example, more than half of the COVID-19 cases in Denmark and Norway can be traced to the small Tyrolean town (Popa et al.). A large proportion of the cases have, in fact, been linked to a single apr├Ęs-ski bar; tellingly, in Attack of the Lederhosen Zombies, the zombie virus primarily spreads at such a bar. More recently, the Austrian government has been pushing for re-opening skiing resorts short after the still-ongoing (as of writing this abstract) second national lockdown, emphasizing the precautionary measures taken by the tourism industry.

Accordingly, my presentation will suggest that even though Attack of the Lederhosen Zombies introduces the topic of climate change explicitly, when watching the film in what Continental European news outfits have come to call the "corona winter," climate change takes a backseat to the topic of viral contagion, as Attack of the Lederhosen Zombies seems to premediate events that occurred (and will recur?) in the real world. Of course, in not too subtle ways, this semantic prioritization echoes political tendencies in the real world, as confronting the short-term threat to human lives that is SARS-Cov-2 has become more important than confronting the long-term threat to life on the planet that is global warming.

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