The news on a slow news day is not like slow food–it’s often more like junk food. But there is better and worse in junk food, and the same holds for what the press serves up during the summer doldrums. Time Magazine recently put up a slide show about the zombie walks and related zombie festivals in various cities around the globe. (There have been several events this summer, along with auditions for the London Bridge Experience staged for tourists, while some of the photos document choice displays in previous years.) But I’m getting ahead of the show, which started with this beauty:
And he is gorgeous, isn’t he? As much as I like The Night of the Living Dead, there definitely has been a fashion upgrade in the ensuing decades. Purists might point out that there is little in the way of genuine corruption evident in this dude: the hair, piercings, beard, and bone structure are stylish in any case, while the make-up only highlights those bedroom eyes. Romance or Romanticism, he’s got it down.
But why look at a walking corpse, or act like one? As with the movie, these zombies might be providing a ghastly simulacrum of the “normal” society seen walking about during the day. The undead can display bodily cravings that otherwise are kept under wraps, and the reactions of those still not buried can reveal social norms that mutilate and kill. If so, this guy really is a model, because he suggests that fashion dominates modern life and that art is not enough to overcome the distance between one soul and another.
Unless, of course, you have the good sense to not take any of this too seriously. And so my admiration for the first image was topped by the good laugh I had when I saw this photograph:
These zombies are waiting in a cafe before their auditions in London. God, I love this tableau. Even the zombie life can come to this, another day of deadening routine. Worse, you have to believe they could be ordinary customers not in costume. He’s shell shocked by another day in a job that is sucking the life out of him; she’s already so bored with the relationship that she could croak. The living dead, indeed.
The moral of the second photo is that we shouldn’t be too quick to assume that ordinary activity is a sign of life, or that the living aren’t already succumbing to mindlessness. The moral of the first might be that artistic attentiveness, which is the opposite of mindlessness, can both liberate and isolate. Alive or undead, there are no easy answers in how to live your life.
Photographs by Johannes Eisele/Reuters and Stephen Hird/Reuters.their auditions.