Remember flash-mobs? That is too 2000’s. Now the real cool thing is Zombie Walks. Never such a social phenomenon was so passionate. So if some people think we might get invaded by Zombies, well they are right. It is just not exactly the way they thought. With the support of social media, isolated events become worldwide phenomenons. so get ready to be scared, as this is the Zombie walk!
How Science fiction and B movies became a social inspiration
Since the rediscovery of Cyber Punk culture in the 90’s, many sub-trends became very popular among young and less young people. We can see that most of the time all these trends have one thing in common: self-expression. The more the world becomes grey and boring, the more people wished things were more exciting. It is proper to mankind to be entertained, and the more economic crises strikes, the more people wishes to be entertained, like if they could for a limited time to forget the problems of our daily life.
Since the 70’s science fiction literature and B movies developed an important source of inspiration for young generations. On that time, authors and artists dreamed of another possible version of reality, which made a very powerful anchor. From this decade we kept some sub-trends. We have:
- The middle-age
All these sub-cultures above, were basically living together side by side and recently even blending. Websites, social media pages started growing and hundreds of thousands of people started creating big online communities.
Probably online gaming helped a lot to maintain this sub-cultures alive and even spread. Games like Silent Hill or Resident Evil became huge blockbusters including in theaters.
With the years 2000, we got into the Vampire era. From books, novels, tv series, cartoons and films, everything was about vampires. This time, with a more romantic approach, motivated by a teenage story style. We would quote simply the Twilight saga films or the 2 tv series True blood and Vampire’s diary. Probably the front head of this trends was The Vampire Chronicles with Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Kirsten Dunst, Antonio Banderas and Christian Slater. The film was released in 1994 based on a novel of Anne Rice written in 1976. Since then, any teenage library section has at least 45% of its surface with books, DVDs and other goodies about vampires.
Generation Y and the need of self-expression.
Another interesting fact is that the young generation, that we call generation Y or Millenials, has a strong need for self-expression. They want to show their difference and what makes each one of them unique. After the lost of all models in society (religion, politics, family model…) each individual feels the right to be what they want and to express their opinions out of any rule or pre-concept.
Of course, being a teenager is also, by definition, being against the older generations lifestyle and way of thinking. This new generation was the first generation being born with internet and social media, so the world is completely at their fingers (and computer screens). Moreover, mobile phone became their secret weapon to communicate with and to the world. It is by far their biggest expenditure, followed by fashion. They are connected 24-7 and the idea of a “public life” evolved a lot.
And technology only made it worse
With the creation of Social media, Internet got finally a purpose for many many people. They can easily connect together, share their passions and aims. All in a very simple way. Just need a computer and an internet connection. Facebook was the beginning but today hundreds of social networks allow you to become a potential heavy content producer just by sitting comfortably in your couch. If we consider Youtube for example, more than 100 hours of videos are uploaded every minute. Every month, people watch 6 billion hours of videos on youtube, this is more than any television channel in the USA. 25% of this is used via mobile (source: Youtube stats). If we consider another very popular social network, especially popular among teenagers, it would be Instagram. With its 150 million active users, the statistics are just amazing. Everyday there are more than 55 million pictures posted in Instagram. Every second, there are 8’500 likes and 1’000 comments. We could also talk about Twitter, that replaced the email and the SMS in people’s mind. So as we can see, texts were replaced in the internet by pictures and pictures by videos. Today’s technology allow us to create our own communication platform to the world and more than that, to become our own internet. Blogs, forums, groups, online communities are easy to build as any simple text page. With more than 99 million blogs around the world people can start sharing their lives and their passions. And thanks to technology, this can spread really fast.
From flash-mobs to Zombie Walks
As Facebook has now 1.2 billion users, we can say that almost every single person in this world with an internet connection is present in one or more social networks. If we think that internet was a revolution, think Social Media as the true Big bang! We experience worldwide phenomenon spreading massively and rapidly everywhere. People can get really creative and the cool thing about it? It is that millions of people will probably follow you in seconds.
Flash-mobs, people get creative
This social phenomenon was created in 2003 in New York. The purpose of it is to assemble as much people as possible in one unique location. Then, to perform an unusual and seemingly pointless act for a brief time, then quickly disperse, often for the purposes of entertainment, satire, and artistic expression. Many flash-mobs became cult like the tributes to Michael Jackson when he died.
Several types of flash-mobs were produced, from Ninja-fight, to pillow-battles and freeze-mode. All of them were made possible thanks to the power of social media and viral emails. Some companies tried to use the flash-mob as a new kind of advertising, especially to gain visibility in youtube. But most of the events are organized by people.
Project X, reaching the extreme
This is probably the limits of technology towards social behavior. Project X is another kind of organized event in which thousands of people are unofficial invited to a private event like a birthday. The most unfortunate event of all is the one from a young Dutch teenager and her birthday. She sent a invitation for her birthday to her closest friends and the invitation got viral on social media. The result: 3’000 people came to the party in her small village. And of course things got a little wild. Hollywood made a film, also called Project X, that tells a story of such events. Here is the trailer, you will understand right away the extreme downside of it.
Of course this kind of events are illegal and should not be presented as an example to follow. Naturally hollywood pushed it a little far but reality is not so far from it.
Harlem Shake, completely nuts
This is one of the recent internet phenomenons. The principle of the Harlem Shake is a 30 seconds video in which we see a group of people dancing on the Harlem shake by DJ Baauer, an American music producer. Normally the video starts with a regular and usual situation yet one person is dancing in a silly way. After 15 seconds there is a breakdown on the music and then the last 15 seconds are purely craziness. Check for yourselves in this chosen video.
Today thousands of videos with people “doing the Harlem Shake” is online. Millions of views and always the aim to innovate and surprise. The first original video has today more than 50 million views on youtube and it is still spreading.
Zombie Walks, creativity at the next level
After the vampire’s decade at the top trends in music, cinema and fashion, now the era changed. The It characters of the moment are… Zombies!
It sounds crazy but it has become a even broader phenomenon than vampires, witches, or other kind of monsters. Why Zombies? Good question. Probably George A. Romero could not imagine that directing the film “Night of the living-dead” in 1968 would generate one of the strongest sub-cultures on the last 40 years. Since then, a passion for Zombie stories, movies, video games, tv series, websites, social networks and disguises. One of the big hits in video games and movies is Resident Evil. Probably the only big success as a movie based on a video game. More recently World War Z with Brad Pitt also brought to top of mind the Zombie trend.
Another reference to be quoted is on television. Tv series or soaps became very popular in the past 10 years and even companies like Netflix were founded on this trend. Among the best-selling is Walking dead. According to Wikipedia, The Walking Dead is an American horror drama television series developed by Frank Darabont. It is based on the comic book series of the same name by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, and Charlie Adlard. The series stars Andrew Lincoln as sheriff’s deputy Rick Grimes, who awakens from a coma to find a post-apocalyptic world dominated by flesh-eating zombies. He sets out to find his family and encounters many other survivors along the way. The series was launched in 2010 and it is an amazing success. The first episode in season one got around 5’500 viewers. Today we have season 4 that just started and the episode one of season 4 gathered more than 16’000 viewers. Here is the trailer for season 4 that just started.
So what is about this Zombie Walk? As the other social phenomenon, a Zombie walk is an organized public gathering of people. They all dress as zombies. Most of the participants meet in a urban city center and make their way through the city streets. Some of the zombie walks are purely for fun, others to claim a purpose (political, social, etc…). It started in the USA but now it is all over the world.
The first Zombie walk happened in the USA in August 2000. During Gen Con, the biggest tradeshow for Tabletop games, an organized zombie-flash-mob was organized. One year later, a Zombie parade took place in Sacramento California. This event was initially to promote a film festival and now each year it takes place at the same moment. Last year the parade itself gathered more than 1’000 participants. Due to the strong popularity of Zombie movies and literature, Zombie walks became a huge phenomenon, not only in terms of people participating but also in terms of imagination, creativity and disguise. Up to today the biggest ever zombie walk in terms of participants was recorded by the Guiness Book of Records in the Twin Cities, Minneapolis-Saint Paul. A total of 30’000 zombies participated to the event in 2012. It is up to today the biggest of all.
The creativity and the high degree of execution in the disguise is simply amazing. Some people could play in a movie as the execution is beyond amateurism. Here below some pictures taken during the Rio de Janeiro 2013 Zombie Walk.
Is it scary? Yes it is. The amazing part is the organization and the vitality of the news. Thanks to social networks, people get organized, they have their meeting point and the street parcours. Several Facebook pages exist. Here is the one for the Rio walk:
So next time you are walking downtown, just be careful. Check the social networks before living your home, so you will know how many zombies your day will be made of.
Info sourced at wikipedia, Vogue, Gen Con website, youtube. Images from Nathalia A., Fabio G.C., Elisangela M.Nathalia V. All content is copyrighted with no reproduction rights available.