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21 August 2011 @ 04:35 pm
Why the World Needs Zombie Walks  
I was thinking today, why is the Zombie Walk so successful? What is it, and why do people turn out in droves for it worldwide?

A Zombie Walk is not a protest, parade, demonstration, marketing stunt, or otherwise controlled event with some sort of agenda. It is not specific to religious, political, economic, age, language, gender or racial orientation, nor is it funded by any source. It is a crowd of random people deciding to gather, dress up to look like rotting corpses, and have fun - and that's it.

Perhaps it's popular because it also requires little expense, little skill, and little advance planning (unless you're paying to have your make-up done of course, but that's entirely voluntary). Anyone can be a zombie for a day, and I do mean anyone. If nothing else, grab a ketchup packet from a cheap burger joint, and you're on your way to fake gore.

But what does it all mean? Of all things, why is it a ZOMBIE walk, not a kitten walk, or super hero walk, or celebrity walk? Why is the shambling undead such a popular theme, given that people repeatedly show up to participate in such large numbers? I'm no psychoanalyst, but I do wonder why the concept of "zombie apocalypse" has such broad appeal. In an age of increasing disease, famine, overpopulation, climate-related disasters, political unrest and economic change, do we not feel some sense of helplessness, like the world is going to s*** at the speed of light, and that there is little we as individuals can do to influence a positive resolution? Is there some weird melancholy global unconscious, evidently slightly more apparent to some than others, detecting that we actually have something in common with the walking dead? Or that in a way, we are already the walking dead? An overly dramatic assessment perhaps, but ask yourself: why should so many people find identifying with zombies as something *fun* to do, even for just an afternoon? Does a mindless, flesh-seeking zombie seem to celebrate prosperity, peace, generosity and goodwill? Does a restless, diseased, reanimated corpse give you warm feelings of family, acceptance and community? Doubtful. If anything, a zombie apocalypse reeks of fear, helplessness, hopelessness, and relentlessness. Now, don't those feelings sound a little bit familiar?

However a zombie walk goes a step beyond (if you'll pardon the pun). Rather than consist of a mad rioting mob wailing about the futility of mankind, oddly enough, the walk features friendly participation, smiles and laughter (plus a little fascination and surprise provided by onlookers). The generally well-behaved crowd obeys traffic laws despite being relatively (or in some cases completely) unpoliced, and disperses after only a few hours, usually without injury or incident. If we assume that the need to focus specifically on zombies is borne from a sense of displacement from our world, we must also accept that the execution of the walk itself celebrates the ability to gather peacefully and respectfully, for no other cause than to relish each others' company, despite how grisly things may seem. A zombie walk may appear to be completely absurd at first glance, even utterly inane, but in the larger scheme of things, I don't think it is. When that many people repeatedly express themselves by participation, no matter what the catalyst, it has to make you wonder if there isn't more beneath the surface. Perhaps, we *need* things like the zombie walk in order to gain a sense of community in the face of uncertainty, whether we realize we need it or not.
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
Lorraopium on August 22nd, 2011 12:57 am (UTC)
I think it's also a fun, easy way to get into society again, because most people (especially in places like vancouver) just bypass each other, there is no connection (whereas a theme like this IS a connection), and everyone 'connects' these days online - it's not as daunting as nightclubs or bars, and most adults, I find, can't trick or treat on Halloween anymore, and dressing up at home is no fun, so this is reliving childhood in a way, I think.
Valerianvalerian on August 22nd, 2011 03:17 am (UTC)
Exactly! And what better way to break the ice among complete strangers than to all be playing up the same theme, for the purpose of nothing more than joining in. Be it a zombie walk, pillow fight, water fight or any other "flash mob" activity, the end result is the same.
Red: goreybitogoth on August 22nd, 2011 03:28 pm (UTC)
There's also an element of catharsis- people gets so wound up over politics/environment/religion/sport/etc.- eveything is SERIOUS BUSINESS. to be able to take something scary and out of your control and just laugh at it, to become something that you fear, to flip the V at the suits staring at the parade... just venting some existential angst and having fun is its own purpose.
d_sdonnaidh_sidhe on August 23rd, 2011 03:51 am (UTC)
I dressed as a research scientist and totally accidentally put on the same set of Umbrella Corp. patches in the exact same placement as a group of a dozen strangers, who became my bodyguards. :D
Valerian: Schmokin'valerian on August 23rd, 2011 05:50 am (UTC)
Aha!! Awesome!!