Zombie popularity is a surefire indicator of national mental health, says Clemson University professor Sarah Lauro.
Lauro, an English teacher who studied zombies while working on her doctorate, told the Associated Press that the rise of the "Zombie Walk," specifically, illustrates citizens' dissatisfaction with governments and life in general.
"We are more interested in the zombie at times when as a culture we feel disempowered," Lauro told the AP. "And the facts are there that, when we are experiencing economic crises, the vast population is feeling disempowered. ... Either playing dead themselves ... or watching a show like 'Walking Dead' provides a great variety of outlets for people."
A zombie walk is almost like a flash mob, except with zombies. Organizers send out flyers and advertisements listing the date and time to meet up, and then a whole group of people dressed as and behaving like zombies will go on a mass "walk" — more often than not in public areas.
The idea started in Toronto in 2002 and, like the dead, is on the rise.
From the AP report:
As of last year, Lauro said, zombie walks had been documented in 20 countries. The largest gathering drew more than 4,000 participants at the New Jersey Zombie Walk in Asbury Park, N.J., in October 2010, according to Guinness World Records.
Along with walks, as Lauro points out, there are several other popular venues which zombies appear. There's movies, and TV shows like The Walking Dead (which, consequently, has broken longstanding television records). There's even a whole string of fitness obstacle courses on the rise that center around zombie themes.
It's no surprise that America has jumped on to the trend — Lauro cites that it really started to spread in 2002, during the advent of America's two wars. Then there was the crash. Years later, despite the stock market ticking past its previous record highs, the vast majority of America can't seem to get ahead.
It's like they've been left behind. So maybe it's escapism, or maybe Lauro's right and the rise of zombie culture is just a symptom of the larger problems in modern society.
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