COMMENTARY | According to Sarah Lauro, a Clemson University professor, the zombie craze on television, movies and video games is a sign of cultural dissatisfaction, the Associated Press reported on Monday. Lauro, who teaches English but studied zombies while working on her doctoral degree at the University of California at Davis, said in particular, the “zombie walk” in which a gathering of people dressed like the undead stagger and dance, is seen when people feel like the government is not listening to them. Goodness, can’t a zombie just be a zombie?
Yes, there are a lot of zombies showing up in media. For whatever reason, zombies seem to be the “in” thing — from Plants vs. Zombies to “The Walking Dead” to cases in which people have taken over emergency broadcast centers to post prank alerts to listeners of radio stations, zombies are everywhere. And yes, there are a lot of disgruntled people around these days. Dissatisfaction is high all over the world. But isn’t tying one situation to the other overthinking it all just a little bit?
What would Lauro make of a sudden rash of movies and television shows about lawyers? How about when skateboards become all the rage? Or video games featuring high-speed car chases or Gotye’s “Somebody that I Used to Know” playing nonstop on the radio for six months straight? I think sometimes cause-and-effect reasoning has its place — but not when it comes to zombie fascination.
According to Lauro, a zombie mob originating in Toronto in the early 2000s and gaining popularity in the U.S. in 2005 is associated with dissatisfaction with the war in Iraq and how “nobody really wanted that war, and yet we were going to war anyway.” It seems I remember a lot of people believing in that war and supporting the troops and their mission. A lot of people who happen to enjoy the entertainment factor of zombies, as well.
According to Lauro, there have been zombie walks documented in recent years in at least 20 countries, with more than 4,000 participants of one in New Jersey in 2010, according to the Guinness World Records. Could it be that the people participating in the zombie walks were trying to get their event to set the world record? Or perhaps maybe they had heard about a zombie walk that happened somewhere else and thought it sounded fun?
Lauro backs out of her assertion by saying that those who are participating in a display of dissatisfaction sometimes aren’t aware that they’re dissatisfied. I say maybe that’s because they aren’t dissatisfied. Maybe they’re just having fun.