Seriously, you can’t turn the corner without running into a zombie these days. They’re on TV with AMC’s new hit series The Walking Dead, and IFC’s Halloween mini-series The Dead Set. They’ve invaded literature, rewriting Pride and Prejudice and filling shelves with survival guides. Movies like Zombieland have taught us critical lessons like rule #21, zombies can’t climb. And, perhaps the most certain sign of the pending apocalypse, Sears releases a zombie version of its catalog.
There are any number of theories of why zombies are all the rage. Wired Magazine even put researchers to work to debunk the thought that zombies increase in popularity when the stock market tanks.
Being a strategy guy all of this is more than a passing whimsy. Clients count on their agencies to tell them if zombies represent a critical segment that they should be reaching with target messages. (Current research suggest the undead do not reflect accepted patterns of consumer behavior. But this is somewhat skewed since no one has conducted a successful focus group with zombies. And by successful I mean surviving.)
But I do have a real theory on why we’re seeing so many zombie manifestations. It’s because we know it’s okay to hate zombies. Really, other than Shaun Of The Dead, every presentation of zombies makes them a one-dimensional target of loathing and aggression. That kind of black and white definition is lacking from every other aspect of our lives.
At the risk of sounding like a movie trailer, in a world of woeful economics, shrill politics and daily struggles, everyone wants someone to hate. Maybe hate is too strong of a word. But zombies offer us a humanoid form that is just enough not human that we feel no shame enjoying their demise. Look at Wired’s chart. Zombies started gaining popularity as the world around us became dizzyingly complicated in the post 9/11 world.
If I’m right we should see an ebb in the zombie infestation as soon as the economy starts firing on more cylinders. Then again, if I am wrong you might want to head over to this architectural competition where they’re vetting designs for zombie safe houses.
And don’t even get me started on the whole vampire thing.