Just read this article: http://www.indiegogo.com/zworlddetroit
I recommend you read it, too. It is covering the proposal of a zombie themed experience park in Detroit — so like an amusement park, but you live the experience of a zombie apocalypse.
This idea is so messed up, brilliant, exhilarating, and terrifying that I can barely give you my initial impressions of it.
So, here are just some quick thoughts, at a glance.
The language of this is realllllly unsettling. It is glamorizing the rush and thrill of LARPing a zombie apocalypse, explaining that video games pale far too much when compared with real experience.
Downsides: the ‘immersive’ experience is explicitly predicated on escapism: “The experience is designed to last overnight where you are sequestered in Z World Detroit. For that time, Z World Detroit will be your world, while you forget about any other problems.” Whoa.
-catch 22: saves an area with its own specific, local history at risk of being wiped away… by wiping its history away and making it a non-place
Upsides: brings revenue into a beleaguered area, is an inventive and creative tourism idea, promotes cooperation
The premise of this theme park is kind of awesome. I would love to go and try my hand at surviving — especially because violence is, quite explicitly, not an option.
That said, I have to admit, this strikes me as both very intelligently capitalizing off of a strange cultural phenomenon AND symptomatically indicating just how privileged we are in the most messed up way. The solution to saving an economically destroyed, abandoned area? Make thrill seekers pay to visit it. Really?
I’m aware of my privilege, I try not to forget that. Seeing this idea makes me very uncomfortable about it. What better way to save Detroit than to make it an amusement park for a young, middle class demographic? It seems shocking in its consumerism and it seems like an odd way to ‘save’ Detroit.
That said, I’d be willing to consider a visit. I’d call it research.
I’m not saying this idea is bad, just fraught. Besides, this is still only an infant idea, from what I can tell, and it has a lot of potential. If the creators could encapsulate the history of this area and memorialize it in the park experience, it might also do some interesting good.
Instead of turning this neighborhood into a non-place, crystallize its uniqueness, use the zombie as a symbol for the necrotizing forces that left that wound on the city.
Just some food for thought.
PS: doesn’t it seem like Z World should be hyphenated to you? Z-World?
PPS: isn’t this the perfect, self-reflexive, haunting place for the ACTUAL zombie apocalypse to break out at?