Monday, April 04, 2016

Notes on the Walking Dead

Like the characters in Eastenders never watching or talking about soap operas, so in the Walking Dead no one mentions the word zombie or talks about zombie films – mainly, they're referred to as 'walkers'. Dracula/vampire films and TV shows are at least self-referential and aware of their history but with the Walking Dead, it's like George Romero never existed.

The core characters mostly live such a feral, grim, miserable day-to-day existence, wearing rags, covered in blood, surviving on found tins of food, rodents and snakes, tramping through forests, seemingly going round in circles and sleeping rough (at least in season five anyway). They must be aware that other people are probably living decent lives – oh yes that's right, and when they find these decent people, they usually kill them. And they're meant to be the good guys.

By season six, Rick (Andrew Lincoln) has gone psycho (it's his demented concept of family that's done it; he'll do anything to protect his gang). He's usually to be found covered in blood with an axe or gun in his hand and a crazed look on his face – vaguely reminiscent of Ash Williams (the great Bruce Campbell) in the original Evil Dead films. Wherever he goes, humans as well as zombies die; and he doesn't seem to mind which he kills. Whenever he enters a compound of humans, who have survived for years peacefully and without bloodshed since the outbreak began, within five minutes of Rick entering, mayhem ensues. Usually it's him killing a human, but give him a few days and they'll be fires, explosions, the walls of the compound, which have survived years, will collapse, zombies will enter and all the humans will die, except for Rick and his buddies. Rick is a psycho! Why anyone would let him into their house is beyond me.

The thing is, they've become so used to their feral existence that they don't know how to cope any more with a 'normal', civilised existence. Basically, after about five minutes, they're bored by it. Nice homes, clean shirts, freshly baked cookies – it's just not as exciting as chopping zombies to pieces.

Aside from never mentioning zombie movies, they never talk about art or culture at all. They all seem very narrow-focused, just trying to get through the day. There's no enquiring nature in any of them – they've never wondered what the rest of the world is like. They've never thought of checking out the White House, seeing Area 51, nicking an original Van Gogh painting. Why not find a nice mansion to live in? Or move to the mountains or desert for a bit, just for a change of scenery?

If I was alive after a zombie apocalypse, I'd probably have more ambition than I have now. After all, money is no object, friends and family are probably all dead, mortgages are a thing of the past. Perfect time to make a fresh start. Hook up with a bunch of fine human specimens, go to the coast. Find a luxury boat. Get a map. Sail to the Caribbean or any small, beautiful, desert island with bountiful natural resources. Kill any zombies there; it's self-contained, so once they're all dead, no more will come. Start a family and community. Live happily ever after in paradise.

The Walking Dead spin-off series, Fear the Walking Dead, is similarly oblivious to the concept of zombies. The characters all seem to take the outbreak in their stride – the only character who has a bit of a breakdown (understandably in the circumstances) gets chucked into a Guantanamo Bay-type detention camp, and never heard from again.

Previously on Barnflakes:
The Walking Dead recipe
Dinosaurs & Zombies


Slayer said...

'They never talk about art or culture at all'? They're in a zombie apocalypse! I think the time for visiting Van Gogh exhibitions has passed...

T-1000 (the bitch is back) said...

what better time to visit an exhibition?

Barnaby said...

Slayer – Fair point but I don't know, to pass the time, I'd want to talk about stuff apart from who's going to kill the next zombie. Favourite zombie films, for example, or top ten post-impressionist paintings.

T-1000 – good to have you back. Exactly! No queues!