Monday, February 15, 2016

Bad Decisions And Trust Issues, Or Thoughts On The Walking Dead

I love killing zombies as much as the next blogger, and yet I’ve found that over the seasons The Walking Dead has become progressively assaultive to its viewers, as if we’re the zombies.  It has become an onslaught of creative violence and casual cruelty that critics are calling misery porn; though I can’t honestly say that I enjoy watching a character I’ve invested time in being eaten alive by the living dead.  Ladies and gents, I present to you The Walking Schadenfreude, your new favorite show.  Or rather, what your favorite show has slowly evolved into.
Like Rick and Carol, we as viewers have become accustomed to this world and immune to the violence that surrounds it.  We’ve seen every zombie death imaginable, we immediately distrust any new character and our first response usually involves a bullet or a knife to the head.  There’s a word for that, and that word is formulaic, which is not necessarily a good thing.  You’re presented with different iterations of the same scenario over and over again and the writers are counting on your affection for the characters to keep you watching.  Daryl’s a badass with a crossbow and an RPG, how many times do you need to see that? 
There are multiple story lines that take weeks to converge, a cheap and manipulative ploy that forces you to follow the weaker characters and guarantees your tuning in to the next episode.  Game of Thrones employs the same strategy.  We’re so addicted to what happens next and hold out hope for something triumphant and heroic that will resonate emotionally.  But understand, The Walking Dead will make you pay dearly for that moment with interest, and in blood, when that favorite character of yours is ultimately killed off.
I’ve said before that this show is a metaphor for how we view our lives, is this how you want to see the world?  All you can hope for is survival, and an opinion about a bad decision or a cool zombie makeup to talk about the next day with your friends or online.  Which is essentially what I’m doing right now.
I’ve also discussed my dissatisfaction with The Walking Dead in depth, the primary reason being that there’s no end in sight, which means we can look forward to an infinite recursive loop of getting to know new characters, watching them make stupid mistakes and/or betray the main cast, and waiting for them to die horribly.  That’s not a story, that’s a video game.  In fact it’s worse than a video game because you’re not participating, all you get to do is watch.  Maybe that’s the reason all the good zombie movies are about the start of the zombie apocalypse, the outbreak, because the fiction is not sustainable over the long run.  The question becomes one of endurance, both for your favorite characters and for you the audience; how long are they going to last in this world and as a viewer, when will you decide that you’ve had enough?


my first novel? thanks for asking:) I wrote a 4 book supernatural martial arts series concerning the ongoing feud between a group of kung-fu killer witches in san francsico’s chinatown.