The Politics Of Zombie Walking by Chris Burt

Q. Why didn’t the Zombie bank extend the Zombie’s mortgage?

A. He was already fully amortized.

If you have not experienced a zombie walk, you may be too late. Not too late to experience the zombie walk, as it is now an annual event in Toronto and other North American cities. Too late, however to experience it as the novelty it once was. Too late for the experience of walking South down Bathurst, lost in conversation, and looking up and bursting out ‘What’s going on?’ with Gaye-esque feeling and a shameful twist of terror. ‘All the stories were true!’ You toss your up-until-now Love to the fiendish mob, crying ‘Run for it!’ It was an experience. Now that you’ve heard about it, and now that it merits the historical overview treatment, the experience is changed.

The first ever zombie march was held in California to promote a film festival, and they are linked by this history to the Romero version of the zombie, as represented in Night of the Living Dead. As a reference, therefore, to an allegory, the Zombie Walk has had from the start an element of social critique. A 2003 Toronto ‘Zombie Walk’ was billed as such and not a promotion for anything, establishing an annual local tradition while making the walk itself the event. Since then, walks have become popular all over the western world, notably including a ‘Walk of the Dead’ at the mall which served as the backdrop for Dawn of the Dead, and many events have included thousands of participants.

Two recent events highlight the Zombie Walks’ disparate goals. One is the annual Toronto event’s recent 9th running – er . . . lurching. The other is the Wall Street Zombie March at the beginning of the month as a part of the ‘Occupy’ movement. The former actually occurred simultaneously with a march by the Toronto franchise of the ‘Occupy’ movement, coming as close to each other as Dundas and Spadina is from Nathan Philips Square.

The highlights of the Toronto event included a Zombie Wedding, souvenir photos, and an after party hosted by a local film festival. This brings the story back around to the original Zombie Walk, where the cause was culture, but also points out some obvious common ground: the two films screened were of the ‘indie’ or ‘underground’ variety, and nary a bailed-out corporation was product-placed in either. There also must have been at least one clever Bay Street office drone who saw both, and then said to the person beside them ‘tell me again which ones are the blood-thirsty zombies, and which are just out enjoying Halloween a little early?’ Of course, the irony would not be lost on the equally clever drone beside them, who would say ‘We are all zombies; but those ones are having the most fun.’ 


Chris Burt is a freelance writer who writes about sports at, Toronto parenting at and whatever. You can follow him on Twitter: @AFakeChrisBurt.

Scott Snider is a Toronto based photographer dedicated to showing the quirkier and lesser known aspects of urban life. He is a regular contributor to BlogTo and his work has been published in Spacing magazine, Metro News, T.O. Night, and been featured on Torontoist and TechRepublic among others. His daily output can be found on Flickr here.


Post a Comment