A Sideways Glare at Contemporary Society
A couple of years ago, I thought one more season of The Walking Dead was finally going to finish all this zombie crap — for good. Wrong! In a couple of weeks, AMC is going to be back at it again with Season 6. (Not only that, but word around the campfire is, the production team has plans for a Season 7, and an 8, 9 and 10.) It’s like Route 66 with butcher knives. Plus, now they’ve come up with some nonsense spinoff, “let-me-explain-the-apocalypse prequel: Fear The Walking Dead. What’s the deal? The original Night of the Living Dead lasted 96 minutes. Rick and his minions have been killing zombies for 5 years! How many different ways can you blow somebody’s head off? And more importantly, why is any audience still interested?
I’ve figured it out.
As a society, we’re starved for villains, and zombies are the last ones available to us.
Check it out.
1) Hollywood has clichéd Evil Corporate America out of existence. When a movie has a white guy in an expensive suit in it — he’s the bad guy. D’uh! Audiences have been there/done that so many times even Disney has quit trying to sell that lame old story line.
2) No film maker is ever going to risk making the ethnic guy the villain. That’s like throwing gasoline on the Eagerly Offended fire. Every self-appointed activist this side of Mars would be on his ass faster than you can say “Don’t you ever show your face at Sundance, again!”
3) Point #2 goes double for all other identifiable groups. Try making a gay guy evil, or a single mom, or a paraplegic and the Social Media would go berserk. They’d threaten to blow up your car, burn down your house, slap your face, kick your dog and pee in your porridge — you insensitive bastard. The last time a guy in a wheelchair was the villain of a movie, it was Kenneth Branagh in Wild, Wild West and even Salma Hayek’s boobs couldn’t pull that dog out of the fire.
4) The entertainment industry has made bad guys look good. Tony Soprano was a Mafia Boss. He was a criminal. He stole things. He cheated. He lied. He killed people. WE SAW HIM DO IT! But who cares? We were still cheering for the guy when family night got cut short by the blackout series finale. Dexter? Totally psycho! Walter White in Breaking Bad was a meth dealer. A METH DEALER! There are no redeeming qualities to that profession. Yet there are people in this world who think the moral of that story is we should pay teachers higher wages!
So who’s left? British accents and pretty girls. And even that doesn’t always work. I cheered for Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl just because she knocked the snot out of Ben Affleck.
No, folks. We’re stuck with zombies for the foreseeable future. In a society where vampires are cozy, crime is a career choice and everybody’s entitled to a rainbow, zombies are the last bastion of evil.
And to demonstrate just how far our world has descended into Cloud-Cuckoo-Land, never once — in the entire Walking Dead series — does anyone ever say the word “zombie.” I think the producers are scared skinny that Z.A.C (the Zombie Awareness Coalition) is lurking in the shadows somewhere.