chapter  2
23 Pages

The collective zombie

This brings me back to the parade and to the even more curious question of what happens to ‘zombie as metaphor’ when it takes to the street as a public spectacle. In zombie parades, groups of people who have entered imaginatively into a fictional form, collectively create a social ritual out of its imaginary constituents. This movement from narrative to social enactment, from the imaginary and symbolic world of fiction to the corporeal world of bodies, acts, rituals and performances creates a new kind of collective manifestation. Consecrated by rituals of performance and pantomime the zombie parade is a collective event that transforms a private act of viewing zombie films or playing zombie games into a visible, public and global manifestation of a collective identification. From humble beginnings as an event to promote a horror film

festival in Sacramento, California, in 2001, zombie parades and festivals are becoming mainstream events attracting thousands of participants in cities across the world. Zombie websites record this escalating tally as if the rise in active zombiism

underwrites the veracity of the zombie vision – 9,800 in Mexico in 2011 (ABC News, 2011); an estimated 15,000 in Brisbane, Australia, in October 2011 (Zombie, 2011); 12,000 in Santiago, Chile, in October 2012 (Arsova, 2012); 15,000 in October 2012 in Asbury Park, New Jersey (Columbus, 2012); 25,000 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in October 2012 (Murch et al., 2012) and so on. In comparison to the world’s big religious festivals and parades,

with participation by hundreds of thousands of people, the zombie parades are small affairs, but they mark the transformation of zombie from a fictional genre into zombie as a social form. Zombies incite forms of identification and pleasures that are moving off the screen and into the street, and these street events are fanned by the rise and rise of the zombie genre. Google trends reveal that web search interest in zombie headlines has risen steeply from a search index of 11 in 2004 (out of a maximum of 100) to 88 in October 2012 (Google, 2012). The cultural spread of these fans is another zombie surprise. Zombie fans cross languages, cultures and nations. In the period 2004-12 Indonesia scored 100, Mongolia 64, the United States 74 and Australia 56. Phillipinos (94) are more interested in zombies than the French (35), but in the UK (53) there is far less interest than in Canada (61) (Google, 2012).