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Art, History, and the Zombie Apocalypse (& how that's good for your non-profit)

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I am lead writer for the Mystery & Adventure Agency, and next Spring, we are co-hosting a fund-raising 5K for arts education in our community. It’ll be spectacularly popular, fabulously fun, and full of people clamoring to dress up and perform, and who will pay for the privilege and then feel better afterwards.

It’s a 5K Zombie Run.

But why?

One evening I was taking a break with an international publication, and after finishing the article about Mauritania’s Conservation Coast, I turned the page. It was an article called, “Monsters from Mesopotamia” (http://www.saudiaramcoworld.com/issue/201204/monsters.from.mesopotamia.htm). It was absolutely fascinating, especially to someone who loves monsters, loves history, and loves writing and performing monsters. And I, like so many others, am a big fan of pop zombies (I am even in Zombie in a Penguin Suit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jtdEKIsnEkM). They make for great public/participatory art, partly because the costumes aren’t too hard, and partly because the depth of the performance required is, well, brainless. I idly wondered if my predilection was common, and if so, how common.

Enter Zombie Super Cool fact Number One: “A recent Google search showed the word “zombie” garnering 318 million Web pages, while “vampire” collected a mere 80 million, with “werewolf” loping in third at 44.5 million.”

HOLY CANNOLI. Why would they be that much more popular ? I thought, maybe Zombies have always been that popular. Enter Zombie Super Cool fact Number Two....

Intriguingly enough, although the earliest man-wolf transition in literature is from Gilgamesh and vampires can be traced in writing and etymology to multiple ancient sources (the 3000 year old Assyrian incantation is deliciously creepy), the modern Zombie, is a relatively recent creation. The historic Zombie “is a corpse revived by a sorcerer or magician, usually in the context of Haitian, Louisianan or West African Voodoo. The zombie then becomes entirely subject to the power of its master. In literature, zombies have been known to guard treasure, terrorize neighborhoods and, more generally, commit murder. . . . .This new zombie, popularized in director George A. Romero’s 1968 cult-classic movie, “Night of the Living Dead,” is a revived corpse that relishes human flesh and, of that, the brain most especially.”

So then, of course, I started chatting with my husband about it, and we became curious as to when/why exactly Zombies became popular. My theory was that people feel like an Apocalypse is on the horizon, that things are crazy, out of control . . . and art—literature, movies, dressing in costumes as Zombies for things like this new awesome ZOMBIE RUN trend, et cetera (Run For Your Lives is a big version of this)—helps us survive.

Enter Zombie Super Cool fact Number Three: Google Analytics show this trend begins in 2008!!

AND Google Analytics show that Zombies kick Vampire and Werewolf BUTT.

It begs the question, though….

Zombie vs. the Tea Party.

Hmmmmmmm……. Tea Party Actions/News Releases result in Zombie spikes!

What about… Zombies vs. Kittens?

OH! And the Kittens are goin’ DOWN in 2009 and do NOT recover!! (Kitten one not shown..sorry)


How about Zombies vs. Sushi?

Yup. As my husband says, “People must be eating more brains.”

Vampires deal in blood and seduction, werewolves are misunderstood but ultimately still violent and there will be no good outcome. Both are clever and manipulative. It hurts to be them. But a lumbering slavering short-lived decaying Zombie, or a sprint Zombie rising up out of the mud on a Zombie Run,clamoring to yank the runners health flag? MINDLESS FUN.


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