I used to be an occasional viewer of The Walking Dead (TWD), a series which depicted the efforts and determination of a group of people to survive an apocolypse in a newly hostile and dangerous world. It was fascinating chiefly because of the character development of two of the principal characters, Carol Peletier and Daryl Dixon (played by Melissa McBride and Norman Reedus). The conflicts and problems they encountered teased my interest. Although attached to the group, Carol (Peletier) and Daryl (Reedus) were essentially loners who made their own decisions and took their own and often controversial actions, often conflicting with those of the leader, Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), who often wavered between being a man of forceful action and a backsliding, mentally unstable wacko. Grimes swore to kill the super villain, but instead commits him to a jail cell, much to the consternation of some of his friends, who lost friends to Negan’s bat and whimsy.
I gradually lost interest in the series when Carol and Daryl were sidelined by the showrunner and his writers to inconsequential subplots, and when Negan, the glib super villain, debuted with his barbed-wire baseball bat at the end of Season Six and became the series’ plot focal point from there on. The series struggled to “humanize” Negan and make him acceptable as the series went far off the narrative and plot rails, complicating what ought to have been a simple, vertical story flow, introducing new survivor groups, “communities,” and characters, and stirring into the basic story more ingredients than in a bowl of Carol’s casserole (which became a running joke) . An unhealthy obsession with Negan and the allegedly metaphysical potency of evil has been a leitmotif of the series from almost the very beginning (although Negan did not become the series pièce de résistance for several Seasons; Rick didn’t kill him, as he promised to but bloviated and made an empty threat when Negan was about to bash Carl’s brains out).
Another development that turned me off completely from TWD was that Rick, who, for moral guidance, quotes from the Koran: “Let my mercy prevail over my wrath.” (First spoken by a Muslim in the opener of Season 8.)and later when he’s waking up years later. See my Rule of Reason column, “CAIR : New Showrunner?” from October 2017, and also “CAIR: The Walking Dead’s New Showrunner? “
I should mention here that I am not a fan of Stephen King type “scare” or zombie movies (though I did watch iZombie, on Netflix, because a female zombie solved murders in Seattle; this series was occasionally amusing, and also because Rose McGiver, the star, was rather fetching and huggable). But the whole idea of zombies is a legitimate possibility as a theme. But zombies are metaphysically impossible and ridiculous. They exist only in fiction or literature.
I stopped watching this series when Susan Rice was appointed to the Netflix board, and when the Obamas were contracted to produce “original” shows for the channel.
A few of the inconsistencies in the series are: in a very early episodes, zombies could pick up things and use them as weapons or tools, such in as in Season 1,when one uses a rock to break the glass of a department store door to attack the living inside. Throughout the rest of the series this kind of behavior does not happen. Also, early in the series a single shot from the gun would stop or kill one. Throughout the rest of the series it was the head that had to be shot or knifed (especially in the temple by the ear) to terminate a zombie; bullets did not stop “the walking dead.”). Obviously, the later writers for the series were not on the same page as the early ones.
In Season 1, episode 6, a pseudo-scientific explanation of how zombies move and act is offered by Dr. Jenner of the CDC (in Atlanta, where the group has found refuge) about how a person is transformed into a zombie (which is eerily analogous to the Trump Derangement Syndrome in Democrats and Social Justice Warriors; their brains are rendered inoperative by hatred for Trump). Zombies in TWD also automatically develop an insatiable appetite for living flesh (animal or human) as well as acute senses of smell and hearing to detect the living. Regular fans of the series take all this seriously without question. See my Rule of Reason column “Parallels in Evil II” from October 2016. In the Jenner/CDC YouTube segment, all of the characters, except for Rick, Daryl, and Carol, later die, usually horribly, from walker bites, including Carl and Sophie, the kids.
The roaming “undead” are called “walkers” by Rick’s group.
It’s not so curious that Gale Ann Hurd, one of TWD’s producers, was also an early co-producer of The Terminator, a story that has lent itself to Graphic Novel treatment (there are several knock-offs of the story in four subsequent film versions). Given the simplified dialogue in all the films, except for some semi-moralistic dialogue in TWD, it is also not surprising to learn that the films have spawned dozens of Terminator comic books and graphic novels.
But, then, the series is based on a comic book or what is now called a “graphic novel,” Robert Kirkman’s TWD series. Graphic novels existed decades ago when classic or popular literature appeared in comic book form (not as books), and were not called “novels.” As a kid, I read a few of these; they introduced me to stories that I would later read in their literary entirety, without the aid of connect-the-dots visual illustrations: War and Peace, The Time Machine, Notre-Dame de Paris, Alice in Wonderland, Through the Looking- Glass, The Last of the Mohicans, even the Bible, and many more.
“Classic” comic books – and now graphic novels – save a reader the trouble of reading a story and allows him to skip time- and attention –consuming descriptions of characters, motives, and action. The novels omit the “meat” of a story (provided the story is worth telling) and offers instead a bowl of white rice. Often the original stories were “adapted” to simplify a story line, change the story, or were adulterated to protect young readers from allegedly prurient material (I remember that the Garden of Eden illustrations of Adam and Eve in the Bible comic book I flipped through back then. They were suggestive; they piqued my curiosity, causing me to wonder; Did Eve really look like a fashion model but sans fashion? Was Adam really a “hunk”?)
|Peter Strzok, AkA Negan, shaved|
The ubiquity and popularity of graphic novels today – there are separate sections of bookstores devoted to them, with cramped shelves occupied by Kirkman’s TWD novels – underscore the prevalence of semi-illiteracy and mental laziness in the culture. Why read about conflicts in The Count of Monte Cristo or The Man who Laughs when one can read dialogue balloons and text beneath cartoons to grasp a story, helped by the illustrations that stand in for one’s own imagination and replace one’s capacity for objectification and discovering one’s own first-hand values? Publishers Weekly, the leading U.S. book review magazine, has an entire section about graphic novels and comic books. Doubtless, given the state of the study of literature today, there are college courses on graphic novels; why study Shakespeare, Aeschylus, or Mark Twain? If they are studied, they are excoriated from the lens of the post-modern anger of “dead white males” and the so-called patriarchy of minority oppression.
American students, from K-1 to post-graduate studies, are being tutored and “entertained” by Marxist, Progressive, walker-terminators. They mean to darken every brain they can infect.