The National Undead Defense Association (NUDA) is filing class action lawsuits on multiple fronts in an all-out attack on the use of Undead-Americans as a pop culture trope.
“Undead-Americans are the last disenfranchised group about whom institutional prejudice is not only tolerated, but actually celebrated with the full support of the state,” the group’s co-founder Claude Gilbert, said in a press release. “It’s shameful, it’s cruel, and it’s unconstitutional,” he continued.
NUDA was formed earlier this year by Gilbert and a number of his clients who claim to have died and later been reanimated. In a telephone interview, Gilbert explained that they feel their civil rights are being trampled every time someone makes a new zombie movie, writes a zombie book, makes zombie jokes on Facebook, or “live tweets the zombie apocalypse.”
“Even using the ‘Z-word’ is grievously offensive to my clients, their families, and the Undead everywhere,” Gilbert said. “Just think of all the pejorative connotations assigned to that word, not to mention the images of idiotic, shambling monsters that Hollywood and the Internet has promulgated,” he added. “Oh, and make sure to use an upper case ‘U’ in ‘Undead’.”
Gilbert’s first targets are Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead creator George Romero and United Artists, the company that distributed the films, widely considered instrumental in popularizing the perception of the undead as flesh-eating morons who can only be stopped by massive head injuries. “My clients are human beings, just as sensitive to physical and emotional pain as anyone else;” Gilbert said, “just because they happen to have been dead and buried for a while doesn’t mean they are second-class citizens.” When asked what on what grounds he planned to sue Romero et. al., Gilbert said, “We’ll start with defamation and go from there.”
Gilbert is optimistic about his chances of prevailing in court, and plans to go on suing virtually everyone he can find who uses the term “zombie” in a way perceived as denigrating to his clients. “I’m not going to show all my cards at this point,” he says. “But if you’ve participated in one of those horrible ‘Z-word walks,’ you might want to contact an attorney. They’re going to be in short supply once we get rolling.”
Others who have had brushes with Gilbert in the past recognize his fervor and tenacity, but tend to characterize him as misguided. “Ever hear the term ‘vexatious litigant’?” asks one former colleague who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “Just Google it and you’ll see Claude’s picture. Literally. Do it. Also? His so-called zombies–excuse me–’Undead-Americans’? Check out their photos against the guys in those ‘Bum Fights’ videos. Just sayin’.”