Running the zombie Christmas mall gauntlet

it’s Christmas again…and that means a visit to (dramatic chord)… The Mall.

The Zombie Christmas Maul
The Zombie Christmas Maul

It’s the same every year. The endless shuffle of zombiefied shoppers, drifting around shiny glass-and-glitz caverns, a mass of humanity with glazed eyes and shopping bags, punctuated by toddlers who lurch aimlessly out from the crowd, shrieking and hyperventilating. There are teenage boys who smell like they’ve just showered with a cocktail of propionic acid and brevibacteria, girls who giggle and text somebody three feet away, just because they can, all endlessly circling like – well, endlessly circling things who like circling endlessly.

And then, in the midst of this glittering temple to the worst excesses of shallow consumerism and the transient disposability of post-industrial A-gen society…Father Christmas. He’s moved here from the North Pole apparently.

There’s something about these places that turns the brain to mush and reduces people to zombiefied numbness. I am not allowed to punk them – you know, do the zombie walk behind these  shoppers and murmur ‘braaaaaiins’. Well, I can, but She Who Must Be Obeyed has to walk on the other side of the mall atrium for a while afterwards.

But honestly!

It’s done deliberately. People buy more if their mind’s switched off. And I have to feel sorry for the poor folks that have to work in these places. Malls are the twenty-first century equivalent of the workhouse when it comes to conditions.

Every mall I’ve been to from North Sydney to Lower Hutt to Bangkok has been exactly the same. The Australia and New Zealand ones even look the same. Is this the unity in diversity beloved of anthropologists?

I’ve got readers of this blog from Melbourne to Florida, from the Netherlands to Cape Town, from Houston to New York to France to Moscow to Dunedin. Am I right that it’s the same everywhere? The look. The raw horror of it all. The commercialism? The mindless advertising. The glitz. The ….the…


Copyright © Matthew Wright 2012 


13 thoughts on “Running the zombie Christmas mall gauntlet

  1. Yes, all the malls I’ve been to in the United States basically look, feel, and smell a like. There’s a specific piped-in-mall-smell that goes with the glitz and glam. I haven’t traveled much outside the US, and when I did I stayed away from malls. So I’ll have to take other people’s word there.

    1. It all sounds kind of horrifyingly familiar, actually. In NZ and Australia, a lot of the malls are actually owned by the same company – even the same consumer goods, everything. You really can’t tell where you are from inside them.

  2. If you venture into the malls at this time of year you need a strategy. You can either zip in, go straight to the stores you want, buy and leave immediately – or you can plonk yourself down at one of the middle cafes and giggle at the stressed-out people trudging past you, making up your own stories about all the gifts they have yet to buy for various hard-to-please relatives. Who says Christmas at the mall can’t be fun!

  3. Thanks for an amusing post, Matthew. I believe it’s the same the world over. My father has a slightly different description where he says zombified people walk with their credit cards held out in front of them, saying, “Buy buy.”
    That’s why I avoid all malls over Christmas.

  4. Absolutely!!! I stay away as much as possible. However, one favorite pastime is going to the Mall of America on Christmas eve. At first it sounds crazy, but think about it for a second. Who are the individuals who waited until the eleven and three quarters hour to shop. I usually buy a big soda, find a comfortable seat, and watch the asylum go by. Younger men dashing into the jewelry store are the best. These fools end up buying a ring and getting married because they didn’t have the forethought to buy a pair of earrings!

    Foolish mortals!

    1. It’s the not getting involved in the madding crowd, I think, that makes it safe! And there are stories here, definitely – inspirations, and ways to spur imagination. Good stuff.

  5. The terms “mall” and “zombie” go together so well. Add the term “Walmart” and you have the perfect hell.

    There is a mall in Brussels that the locals tell me is the “first mall”. It’s right off of the Guild Square. It’s pleasant as malls go but I don’t know if perhaps I should feel some anger toward the Belgians for getting all that “malling” started.

  6. There is only one real mall down here in Dunedin, but it is identical to any other and the inhabitants suffer from the same condition you so accurately describe.

    My infrequent visits to the place are usually planned with the precision of a military operation. I always have a specific objective in mind, select the route with the least resistance, have at least one emergency exit strategy in place and once the mission is complete every effort is made to pull back to a safe distance as soon as possible.

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