Zombies: Economic And Cultural Dissatisfaction Feeds Obsession

Society's current obsession with zombies may be linked to cultural and economic dissatisfaction. There's strength in numbers and the idea of a "zombie apocalypse" occurring is a symbol of the human struggle.

AMC's popular TV series, "The Walking Dead" is not just about zombies roaming about, looking for human flesh to devour. It depicts the human struggle and will to exist, even when faced with very difficult circumstances.

Clemson University English professor Sarah Lauro shared her thoughts on the historical trend of zombie obsession with the Associated Press. While earning her doctoral degree at University of California at Davis, Lauro examined the human fascination with zombies. Her research examines the organized gatherings of people dressed up as zombies known as the "zombie walk."

Organized "zombie walks" are held in large major cities, a ritual usually seen on Halloween, first beginning in Toronto in 2003. Lauro believes that the popularity of zombie mobs increasing in the U.S. conincided with disapproval of the war in Iraq.

"It was a way that the population was getting to exercise the fact that they felt like they hadn't been listened to by the Bush administration. Nobody really wanted that war, and yet we were going to war anyway," said Lauro.

She hypothesizes that the uptick in the number of zombie walks throughout the world may somehow be related to the growing feeling of powerlessness. Zombie walks have occurred in 20 countries, according to Lauro.

"We are more interested in the zombie at times when as a culture we feel disempowered. 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," said Lauro.

In 2010, the Guinness Book of World Records recorded the largest zombie walk with over 4,000 participants. The walk occurred at the New Jersey Zombie Walk in Asbury Park, N.J. 

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