Russian Zombie Walk
Joseph Laycock is a Ph.D. in religion from Boston University with interest in vampire studies. Yesterday he posted in Religion Dispatches: “Russian Zombies Follow in Pussy Riot Footsteps” about a zombie walk in Russia that was cancelled by authorities. Laycock provides a brief history of zombie walks:
The world’s first zombie walk was organized by Thea Felds (aka Thea Munster) of Toronto, Canada, in 2003. In the last decade zombie walks have become an international phenomenon. Last November, nearly 10,000 people assembled in Mexico City to imitate the living dead, though Russia has attempted to suppress the spreading zombie phenomenon.
Laycock notes that a zombie was, last year, arrested in Russia for public indecency. And he notes religious objections:
The local Russian Orthodox diocese complained that “raising the dead” is un-Christian. (The irony of this claim was apparently lost on everyone).
This is particularly interesting to me in light of my recent comments that American zombie entertainment is somewhat Christian-friendly. But I didn’t mean it in terms of authority and orthodoxy, I meant it in terms of selling at Walmart and family night at the Mega Church mall (Cf. “Batman, ParaNorman“).
why arrest zombies? Why claim that the risen dead are “un-Christian?” Perhaps zombies are threatening to such a regime because they are, as Derrida noted, “an undecidable”; they are neither alive nor dead. They run roughshod over the most fundamental categories that order our world. This makes them an inherent symbol of anarchy and the antithesis of social order. A world full of zombies is a world in which neither the church nor the state can impose its will. Yakovlev intended his Zombie Parade as a recreational event. But zombies, it seems, are always political.
I strongly agree with this, the zombie is an ambiguous category that destroys simple notions of binomial categories, neither alive nor dead. They are not necessarily un-Christian (if anything they emphasize similar ideas about human free will and afterlife possibilities), but zombie walks (and dance parties) seem anti-orthodoxy, anti-authority. But they are also a representation of the plague of conformity and adherence to orthodoxy. And so once again, a Derridean “undecidable” and as Bruno Latour explains in “We’ve Never Been Modern” the distinction between artificial and natural is socially constructed.