Culture Jamming with a Meaningless Mob instead of a Pointless Protest
It is a wonderfully subversive absurdist spectacle. People caught unaware and ask what it is for are stunned by the superficial lack of meaning. They expect people taking to the streets in such numbers to have some reason for it. The Critical Mass rides, the Olympic protests, the G20 protests, all of these people are comfortable with because that sort of activism is expected and understood. But confronted with a flash mob of the shuffling undead, they have to start asking themselves questions, even if only for a moment.
Part of the appeal, I am sure, for many Zombie Walkers is there is a thrill in taking over a busy downtown street and co-opting it for a free-form collective street theatre. Unlike the expected form of protest in Vancouver and elsewhere, police presence is minimal, and - probably a manifestation of the confusion over the start time and the disorganized decentralized "organization" that is a fundamental reality of a flash mob - there was almost none at all this year.
Contrast this with the massive police presence at the recent G20 protests in Toronto or the Olympic protests earlier this year here in Vancouver. In both cases earnest protesters with serious and noteworthy agendas were forceably shut down and the presence of violent protesters led to the discrediting of all the voices of protest. With the media's repetitive focus on the violent minority all messages and meaning were lost and the excuse was presented to remove everyone else to prevent any further dialogue. In this way protest is reduced to something majority people are more prone to ridicule than get behind and the attempt to be heard ends up in nothing but backfire.
People come and participate because it is fun. It is not a "broccoli" event attended out of a sense of necessity and duty, but it is not fluffy cupcakes either. The Zombie Walk is meat and brains.