Belfast Telegraph

How the zombie craze will die away soon ... or will it?

By Robert McNeill

In a surprise development, the zombie craze has passed me by. Generally speaking, I don't hold with the undead. Rum lot, in my experience.

On the other dessicated hand, living people dressing as zombies have to be admired. It's a sign that they're rejecting life, which is wildly over-rated.

Before zombies, goths were on the same continuum, I fancy, though they were sexier than zombies. I could see me waddling down the aisle with a goth, but not a zombie. I'm all for challenging society's conventions but, generally speaking, you don't want to be saying "I do" with your eyeball hanging out.

If you've a third hand about your person, I say also this unto you: you have to be wary about death. It's a pretty big deal, but you don't want to go making a meal of it. Some of the world's worst terrorists - al-Qaida, the Vikings - were or are more or less death cults, though only al-Qaida go as far as not putting a 'u' after the 'q'.

Last weekend, 3,000 crazed citizens took to the streets of the pleasant seaside town of Brighton, Englandshire, dressed as zombies. I'm not entirely clear what the rationale for this was. But then again: does there have to be a reason for everything? I'm as logical as Mr Spock and look where it's got me.

I'm sure computer games and movies are feeding the zombie phenomenon. The BBC described the Brighton participants as ambling, shambling and groaning, which is fair enough. It's a free country. Some of us collect stamps. Some of us amble, shamble and groan.

According to the Beeb, Winchester will soon become the first university in the UK to offer a study module about zombies. Indeed, a top professor rushed out of his study to announce: "Maybe zombies speak to austerity Britain in a way other monsters don't." Austerity? Maybe? Monsters? I'd no idea the situation was so serious.

There's no use thinking Belfast is above such matters either. Only last month, there was a Zombie-Aid march for charity (under the rubric, "when there's no more room in Hell, the dead shall walk in Belfast"). One of our columnists participated and is now being watched carefully. A recent, low-budget (£800) film called Deadville involved a zombie virus infecting the city. And, in 2008, local filmmaker George Clarke unleashed Battle of the Bone on an unsuspecting public. It featured a group of friends trying to stop an army of zombies taking over Belfast without being elected in the normal manner.

In Londonderry, a trio of enterprising individuals launched a comic called Zombies Hi, in which the city's walls are assaulted once more, this time by the undead.

The irony of the zombie phenomenon is that it'll soon die out, with participants settling down to worry about their mortgages and trim their hedges. Life will grind the death out of them. The question is: will they stay dead? I fear not. Zombies seem to rise periodically, perhaps - as the professor says - in response to the death of hope in our economy.

Like the poor, the undead are always with us. But they're nothing to worry about really. The odd eyeball going astray. Flapping bandages. Ketchup all over the place. We can deal with that, as long as we keep it in perspective and say: Be afraid. Be quite afraid.

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