The title of the essay is somewhat confusing as Oswalt tries to label all young personalities into either zombies, a spaceship, or a wasteland. Zombies are the lumps that have apathy, which is a defense mechanism that helps them to wade through life, just like spaceships exist outside the earth’s surface. Spaceships, in his work, represent the social outcasts who do not fit in like computer nerds who desire to get away from the world and observe its’ happenings from a distance. Finally, the wastelands are those who seek to obliterate their past lives in an apocalypse and live free as changed men in the desert. Oswalt places himself among the wastelands as he has left the perceived safety of a planned career and a life in the suburbs to become a coastal comedian.
The classification that Oswalt chooses for his friends and other young people is not delightful. However, it is compelling. He applies rhetoric in his attempt at popular sociology. The classification is daring but, at the same time, takes a laid-back tone. He attempts to try and understand or bring order to a human universe that is confused by using non-human objects to resemble the different kinds of persons. He believes that everyone fits somewhere, and that is why there are no people that do not fit into any of the groups in his work. While his work was meant mainly as a joke and a memoir of a bringing up watching science fiction, Oswalt identifies significant issues in society and human relations.
He appreciates the views of society, especially the common perspective that a career in the corporate world and a life in the suburb is what is acceptable since he chose a different path of being a comedian, he classifies himself as a wasteland just in the way society would see him. He ridicules society through the eyes of the zombies who cannot appreciate how much energy the rest of the people use in pursuits of other things other than food. The zombies themselves while having their infrastructure intact, are somehow broken and out of order. Oswalt uses this to refer to the people who do not fit in socially and like to keep to their pursuits all by themselves.
Oswalt appeals to emotion by identifying himself with one of the groups that society perceives as not conforming. However, he does so proudly despite classifying himself as a wasteland, he has achieved pretty much and although he uses such taxonomy he seems not to believe in it having broken off himself and not seeking to return. Oswalt is fascinated by the world but confused he identifies with the feelings of most teenage outcasts. Something interesting is that behind these classifications, there is a common shared origin and a deep look at his work would show that he attempts to bring out the various experiences that shape people into the adults they become. According to Oswalt, misfit teens grow into adults and in the process strive to either simplifying, leaving or destroying the world that they live in. he highlights the struggle of growing up in a society with standards that do not allow for one to be different and accepted in their difference one cannot simply be.
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