Recently I wrote an article about why I didn’t like AMC’s new series, The Walking Dead. I didn’t like it because it was so gory. I didn’t see why AMC the network that brought us such hits as “Mad Men” and “Breaking Bad” would ‘drop the ball’ with this turkey.
Frank Darabont wrote/co-wrote the first three episodes and directed the premier episode.
How could the man, I wanted to know, who collected Oscar nominations from the Writer’s Guide of America for “Shawshank Redemption” and “The Green Mile” be responsible for such an exploitative series?
The series was based on the graphic comic book by Robert Kirkman and was about zombies. I haven’t read the comic book, but I hear it follows the comic book rather closely, and pulls no punches when it comes to guts, and gore.
I expected a lot of people to disagree with my opinion of the series, and I was not disappointed.
Comments ranged from “if you don’t like it just turn the channel, to my not understanding that it was about zombies and that’s what zombies do. One man even suggested that “Two and a Half Men” might be more to my liking.
I found that intentionally funny not five minutes into the premier episode of The Walking Dead, the main character Sheriff Rick Grimes encounters zombies walking (upright) or crawling with the bottom half of their bodies gone.
If I could have responded, I might have said “Thank you, but I’ve already seen it.”
As I said, these comments were to be expected when I took aim at such a popular show.
(The Walking Dead is coming back for a 13 episode second season.)
The comment that got me thinking
But it was the comment from a 55 year woman that got me to thinking about why I had such a visceral reaction to The Walking Dead.
She said that she hated The Saw movies (as I did) and that she couldn’t watch the Freddy Krueger films because they were so gross. But she watched the premier episode of The Walking Dead and ‘just loved it.”
She then reminded me that the movie was about zombies and wasn’t real.
Wasn’t real: it was those two words that got me thinking. As a kid I loved scary movies and the more far-fetched they were—like “They Came from Outer” space or “Invaders from Mars” the better I liked them.
I like them because they weren’t real. The Martians didn’t look like anybody I knew, and I didn’t expect that we would be attacked by Martians any time soon.
I could be ‘fun’ scared because I knew that my parents would keep me safe.
I even liked the horror comic books that were popular in the fifties. One was called “Tales from the Crypt” and was full of people being killed in gruesome ways. (This was before the Comics Code was instigated.)
But again, I could distance myself from the horror because I knew deep down that horror comic books was not ‘real life’ and that nothing bad could happen to me.
And then I grew up.
As I matured I realized that bad things happen to good people all the time, and that the race was not to the swift, and there was such things as random violence, senseless killings and my parents could no longer protect me from the bad things in the world.
Or to put it a different way, for me The Walking Dead is not just about zombies out of a comic book, but its about what is and could be real.
Why The Walking Dead disturbs me.
The Walking Dead is about a sheriff from the fictional King County Georgia.
I married a King County Sheriff who swore to ‘protect and serve’ when he joined the Sheriff’s department; he didn’t go around killing zombies, but he did head a major serial killer investigation.
When the killer was finally caught, (Gary Ridgway) it was learned that he was into necrophilia. (The zombies in The Walking Dead aren’t into that yet, but just wait until they run out of gross things for ther zombies to do.)
When I watched the first episode of The Walking Dead when the zombies tear apart living bodies and devour them, some memories of the investigation rise to the surface and I have to keep reminding myself that the zombies in The Walking Dead are not real even though some of the women zombies have faces not unlike the faces of women who are brutally killed or left in the water too long.
Millions of people are watching The Walking Dead and (I like to think) that the majority of them normal people who just like to be ‘scared’.
There are the other kinds of people who are sick and ‘get ideas’ from watching television show with graphic violence. The Walking Dead could (possibly) inspire some psychopath to kill like he sees those ‘cool’ zombies do.
Serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer in the summer of l991 was murdering approximately one person each week. He got the idea he could create zombies of his victims.
I won’t go into the gruesome details but his methods are not too different from some of the ‘methods’ used to kill the zombies on The Walking Dead.
Another kind of walkin dead
Then there is the another kind of Walking Dead— the kind that that walks down “The Road” in Cormac McCarthy’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel.
The novel is about a father and son journeying across a grim landscape devoid of almost all life on Earth. It is years after an unexplained cataclysm destroyed civilization.
Father and son must survive in this post apocalyptic world of darkness, electric storms, cold and ash.
They will do anything to survive. Many of the human survivors are cannibalistic nomads
Scavenging the country for human flesh, although even that is almost depleted.
At point in the book father and son encounter a roving bands of cannibals and see that they are roasting a new born infant on a spit.
I’m not comparing (no, no, no!) McCarthy’s brilliant novel to a zombie comic book or TV show.
I’m just saying that watching The Walking Dead reminds me of horrors of what could happen (for example) to people in a world gone nuclear, or what might follow a global bird flu pandemic.
For me, The Walking Dead is just ‘too close to the bone’—-too close for comfort.
And that’s why I cannot dismiss it as as ‘just a show about zombies.”
That isn’t real.