A New Birth of Freedom

MARCH 18, 2012 5:35PM

The Walking Dead

Rate: 15 Flag

Science fiction tells us more about ourselves than we would like.

 For example, in the 1950s, science fiction was all about aliens invading America from the sky. They used death rays, destroyed entire cities and engaged in "body snatching" and brain-washing to conquer America. 

Sociologists say that America's obsession with UFO science fiction in the 1950s reflected our anxiety and apprehension regarding the Cold War, the Soviet Union and our fears of nuclear war. 

Today, there is a new science fiction craze, namely, zombies. 

What does this craze say about American society?

A few things. 

First, it says we are terrified about things falling apart, about the collapse of order, civilization, community and the like. We are apprehensive about the collapse of fire departments, police departments, governments, garbage collection, the rise of anarchy and the like, things brought on by numerous years of GOP/corporate benign neglegt. Its beginning to impact our collective unconscious. We fear for the collapse of our society.

Second, perhaps the rise of apocolyptic literature, of which zombie movies and comics are but a part, is indicative of America's declining role in the world and the coming anarchy and destabilization that our Power Elite claims will come in the wake of our eclipse. Sort of like the Dark Ages that followed the collapse of the Roman Empire? Perhaps the Apocolyptic Literature and Zombie craze speaks to these underlying concerns?

Third, perhaps the Zombie craze represents an underlying racial concern. As America and Europe experience increasing numbers of third world immigration, perhaps the zombie craze speaks to the underlying fears of white westerners who irrationally feel overwhelmed and outnumbered by "hordes of savages" who seek to consume and kill all in their path, unrestrained by traditional notions of civility or morality? In this sense, the zombie movie and comic phenomenon could be perpetuated by an underlying racial angst, despite the multicultural cast that comprises such films. 

Fourth, perhaps the zombie craze represents an overwhelming popular fear of capitalism and consumer culture, and the attendent behaviors of consumerism and objectification? Perhaps Zombies represent our fear of masses of people only concerned with mass, ravenous consumption? Of using us as a means to an end, rather than an end in of itself? Perhaps zombies represent shopping mall consumerism, as Romero so aptly argued in his movie, "Day of the Dead?"  That zombies are mindless, drone-like consumers, wishing for nothing more than the satiation of their immediate instinctual impulses, deprived of their higher, civilizing impulses?

Fifth, perhaps the zombie craze is a covert way of furthering the survivalist movement? I hear people all the time talk about how they are preparing for the zombie apocolypse and how they are buying guns, knives, armor, provisions and the like. Perhaps this is a code for preparing for a race riot or the like?  I don't know. Perhaps its all of the above and then some. 

 What I can say is that I absolutely love this series on AMC. I read the comics religiously and follow the show religiously. 

I think Rick was totally justified in killing Shane. 

I think Dale was the most awesome guy in the group. He is the one who kept them human. Without Dale, they would become indistinguishable from the zombies, who are all about killing and eating, survival and consumption. Humanity must mean more than this. Dale shows us this. I am glad Rick realizes this. 

 The battle between Rick and Dale ended through both of their deaths. Dale made the more lasting impact. 

 As Season 3 comes around and we meet the Governor, we will see where Shane's style of leadership will get people, in terms of losing their humanity. 

 

 

Author tags:

walking dead, zombies

Your tags:

TIP:

Enter the amount, and click "Tip" to submit!
Recipient's email address:
Personal message (optional):

Your email address:

Comments

Type your comment below:
Good hypotheses. I find them fun though, especially when the movies make fun of themselves...
I've never watched this series RW.
But I do think you sense the coming of the collapse of today's system in whatever form it takes.

I feel like the main event has yet to take place.....
In all wars it is standard procedure to dehumanize the enemy. Whether they be buck toothed Japs and soulless Boche as in WWII or perhaps zombies as the current craze goes, it gives freedom to slaughter whoever is so designated. Computer games are significant in re-enforcing this freedom. When the time comes for the officials to massacre protesters the people who can no longer be quiet under the open advance of totalitarianism in the USA will be designated zombies. The mere gathering of a group of people celebrating the OWS movement over the last weekend was quickly and brutally dispersed by the New York City police and this openly shows how fearful the authorities are of the legal right to peacefully protest and how fragile that right has become. So much for "zombies".
Perhaps it's just the latest fad. Spiderman movies one decade, Zombies the next. I think it's silly, but to each his own.
I personally feel that the escape into catastrophic science fiction is a deliberate distraction away from the reality of daily life - name the immense suffering Americans are experiencing as a result of the economic collapse.
While I don't quite see the econ-explanation for the craze, you may be on to something w that analysis and I wholly agree w the other notions here. r.
I'm going with #4: ".. overwhelming popular fear of capitalism and consumer culture...consumerism and objectification..fear of masses of people only concerned with mass, ravenous consumption." Why, I was thinking about that just earlier today.

Nice post!
I have been wondering about the spate of zombie movies. You've put it in perspective. What you missed is that the zombies now have their own TV station: Fox News.
A lot of #3 probably. The others make the audience sound a lot less superficial than they are. I'm always suspicious of critical readings that do that.
rate
“America's declining role in the world”? We have our finger in every pie on earth (and probably elsewhere). Indeed we are like the proverbial Dutch boy at the dyke. We are all out of fingers.

Fear of zombies is a racial memory for the entire human race. If you want to watch science fiction movies may I recommend ‘The Ghosts Of Mars.’ Jesus said he would raise the dead when he returned but long before that Ishtar said: “I will knock down the Gates of the Netherworld, I will smash the door posts, and leave the doors flat down, and will let the dead go up to eat the living! And the dead will outnumber the living!”
You may be overlooking the real reason for the current "zombie craze" and who is creating it, how and why. As far as I can tell this is a creation by the Mass Media that is catering to the docile masses that follow anywhere they're led. they've created one dumbed down show after another including the latest in the Zombie craze.

The bigger problem is the more subtle real life zombies that can be easily programed by propaganda. this includes many religious people that blindly follow what they're told by their own leaders and other secular indoctrination tactics including an enormous amount of capitalist ideological beliefs consumer commercials that ell people what to buy and when and dumbed down TV and movies that turn people into mindless idiots that follow the crowd everywhere.

The more recent zombie craze is increasing stereo types about walking dead zombies to distract from the real thing.
Gee, I thought zombies were stand-ins for Republicans.
The reason zombies are so popular is none of the above. The reason is that it's fun to wander around aimlessly intoning "brains. brains. brains."

Next question.
I think for many people, there is an underlying religious/supernatural fixation with Zombies. Think about it: they're dead people, come back from the dead, are possessed, and eat human flesh. It's the opposite of the Risen Christ who is salvation and the only way to save one's self from these demonic creatures is to use violence. The tombs have been opened and the undead are here to kill us blah blah blah, etc etc etc. Zombies are actually from the Voo Doo culture, aren't they? Which is considered to be virtually Satanic by Christianity? I think they're gross, creepy, and look like they would be very smelly, but that's just me :)