Sunday, 23 October 2011

Cultural Zombies.

Zombies are getting more and more popular - movies, games, TV series, and mass-gatherings.

This weekend, 3000 zombies turned up to shuffle around Brighton, for no particular reason.

Zombies are also turning up at the various Occupy camps.

All of this is prompting folk that think that way to suggest that the popularity of zombies is an expression of something deeper in society, much as the popularity of alien invasion themes in the 1950s and 60s was an expression of the fear of Reds under the bed.

Dr Leaning, of Winchester University said, "We're living through the hardest economic times in most young people's memories...maybe zombies speak to austerity Britain in a way other monsters don't."

Nick Pearce, director of the left-leaning think tank the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), put some more flesh on the bones of the theory.

"Even before the global economic crisis we saw young, unskilled young men finding it much harder to get a foothold in the labour market," he told the BBC, "and since the crisis we've seen a rocketing of youth unemployment."

"There is something in the idea that if you can't see a future, if you don't have a sense of progress for yourself personally, then you are stuck in the present tense, and this would lend itself to the notion of a kind of recurrent nightmare of repeatedly being a living-dead."

Me, I have a different slant on the phenomenon.

It's not economic, it's the way a lot of people interact with the rest of the world - it's easy to think, as you sit and type into the aether, that you are the last real, emotional human left on the planet - communicating purely through digital fonts robs so much expression from our communications that it is easy to think that everybody else out there has been zombified.

There's also a fear there - with pandemic scare stories continually cropping up in the media, zombie plagues make more "sense" than vampires, ghosts or aliens. Zombies tend not to be re-animated corpses any more, but people who have been changed by some malevolent microbe released by an uncaring capitalist entity, or by humans meddling in what they ought not (I Am Legend being an excellent example).

Whichever interpretation you go with, it not a good reflection on the world today.

I think I'll stick to Making.


  1. Personally, I think they're a simple cultural meme which has found a resurgance thanks to movies. (Well, okay - that, and they play really well into the imaginations of the subset of the population which gets its jollies out of imagining end-of-the-world scenarios...)

  2. @Anonymous - it's weird to hear children discussing the relative "realness" of zombies in different game or books...

  3. Good post.

    I came across this today:

    'Zombies' move into disused Reading shopping centre