Archives for category: walking dead

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I have written before about the Anarchy of The Walking Dead– how appealing it is to the viewing audience in a world of encroaching government power and limiting personal freedom.

I wrote about how time and time again it is the organization of the surviving humans into any form of hierarchy that leads to more problems than the Walkers that roam the land. We, as an audience have endured the evil leadership of the Governor in the prison, Gareth in Terminus, and Owen of the Wolves.  Their lust for power perpetrated acts of murder on the surviving humans. Perhaps CS Lewis is describing the kind of evil that lead to so much death in Alexandria.  It was Deanna’s kind tyranny that left its inhabitants vulnerable and unprotected in a dangerous world:

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

 

In each instance the corruption of power leads to death and suffering.

I wrote about this in my book Blessed Are They That Hunger in my chapter “We Hunger For Leadership”.  Man’s inherent evil nature is compounded by the power of setting some in position to lead others.

This pattern began centuries ago and continues to this day as kings, and dictators and presidents throughout human history have led to the suffering, loss of freedom and death of those they lead.

As Season 6 of The Walking Dead comes to its finale, we meet a new, evil leader-Negan.  His evil tyranny is the most barbaric and primitive of all.  Even the murderous cannibals at Terminus tried to be humane in their slaughter, but Negan and his followers are prone to torture and murder their victims mercilessly.

We are subject to the brutal death of one of Rick’s team members in the final scene at the hand of Negan’s barbed-wire wrapped bat named “Lucille”. We hear the thud of broken bones and the splatter of blood but no clue of who is the victim.

Negan has a huge following and would be no match for them if they chose to rebel against his leadership. As I watched this horrific scene, my thought was to those who silently allowed it and watched.  The blood was on their hands as much as Negan’s.

It made me reflect on so many evil leaders throughout history who were allowed by the silent acquiescence of their followers to propagate their evil. Hitler, Stalin, Mao, were enabled by the masses they ruled to cause the slaughter and suffering of millions.

And now, we as Americans, are facing the prospect of  candidates for president  that want more power. They want power to discriminate against cultural groups, enforce social equality by suppressing economic freedom, power to invade our privacy, and power to enforce morality.

May we never be silent to Evil. May we always fight for justice for the victims of brutal oppression in the World.  May we always be our brother’s keeper.

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At the beginning of the 4th Season of Walking Dead, I was appalled by the gratuitous violence and wrote a scathing blog called “Is Violence the New Porn?” about it, as well as other shows on the new Fall season of TV.

I may not have been the only one objecting because when I checked in on the shows later in the season the violence was definitely toned down. My self-imposed protest of these shows (by refusing to watch them) sort of fell be the wayside.

I found that the barrage of blood and guts were replaced by some actual story and character development that sucked me back in like an addict. In the case of The Walking Dead, I was not alone in my addiction.

Nielsen estimates that the regular-timeslot telecast of the zombie skein averaged 15.7 million total viewers — a 17% week-to-week gain (from 13.47 million) and 26% bigger than its year-ago season finale (12.42 million). Among all episodes to date, Sunday’s finale ranks third, behind only the season 4 premiere last fall (16.11 million) and the show’s mid-season return on Feb. 9 (15.76 million).

In adults 18-49, “The Walking Dead” averaged a 8.0 rating (10.2 million viewers in the age group), up 20% week-to-week and about 25% vs. last year. It more than tripled the top rating for any broadcast entertainment series on Sunday (ABC’s “Resurrection” did a 2.3 rating). http://variety.com/2014/tv/news/amcs-walking-dead-finale-draws-whopping-15-7-million-viewers-1201150367/

What is the fascination with the Zombie Apocalypse world of The Walking Dead? In my last blog I wrote about Dystopic Fiction and Young Adults.  If Dystopia is the new Utopia for Young Adults, then Anarchy is Nirvana for Adults. Young Adults resonate with a world controlled by a totalitarian regime that the heroic characters revolt against to reclaim their freedom. (i.e. The Hunger Games, Divergent, The Maze Runner etc.)

The world of The Walking Dead is a view of humanity without rules without order-survival of the fittest-anarchy.  I’m reminded of that ode to anarchy by Alice Cooper:

“School’s Out”

Well we got no choice

All the girls and boys

Makin all that noise

‘Cause they found new toys

Well we can’t salute ya

Can’t find a flag

If that don’t suit ya

That’s a drag

School’s out for summer

School’s out forever

School’s been blown to pieces

No more pencils

No more books

No more teacher’s dirty looks

Well we got no class

And we got no principles

And we got no innocence

We can’t even think of a word that rhymes

School’s out for summer

School’s out forever

School’s been blown to pieces

No more pencils

No more books

No more teacher’s dirty looks

Out for summer

Out till fall

We might not go back at all

School’s out forever

School’s out for summer

School’s out with fever

School’s out completely

There are no rules, no laws in The Dead.  There is a different kind of freedom in this society of anarchy.  The only guidance for behavior is in the vestiges of human kindness and love that the characters have for each other.

The Walking Dead juxtaposes the almost utopic commune of the living in their barricaded prison, with the dangerous world of flesh eating zombies roaming beyond the barbed wire enclosure.  When the prison is evacuated, the former inhabitants are left to fend for themselves against the world of the undead, the wilds of nature and the packs of brutal criminal humans.

They have only their wits, their weapons and their will to keep fighting.  They search for “Terminus” at the end of the railroad tracks.  Could this be the utopia they are looking for?

Terminus appears to hide a dark secret (and a lot of grilled flesh).  The message is  that when humans organize and leaders emerge, freedom is lost. Anarchy is the only road to freedom and Nirvana. Will there ever be true freedom for the characters of The Walking Dead-or humankind in the world as we know it-for that matter?

Tune in next season to find out…….

As for mankind my hope is:

24 For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:

25 But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. I Peter 1:24-25

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I have noticed a disturbing trend on TV in the new fall season. There is an increase in the kind of graphic violence being portrayed.  The show The Walking Dead is gaining a growing following.  The premiere show of the season had a viewership of  over 16 million viewers.

I saw The Walking Dead display at Comic Con San Diego 2013.  It was a replica of the prison enclosure used in the show complete with barbed-wire fence and zombies walking within the enclosure.  Unlike the TV show, this enclosure was built to keep the zombies in.  In the TV show the enclosure is to protect the unaffected humans from the growing population of zombies in the world outside.

Because I am a student of popular culture, I decided to watch the premiere episode.  I  recently saw the cast on an afternoon talk show and found out that one of my favorite actors was on the show.  This also increased my curiosity about the show.

In the episode I watched, from what I can put together, there was a young boy who had some type of compassion for the undead and was feeding them rats and other small animals.  In the process, he became infected with the disease that created the zombies.  Once he transforms he immediately starts feeding on the closest live human being who is asleep on the cot in the room with him.

As he feasts, we are witness to a grisly scene full of lots of blood and gore as he tears at the man’s flesh with his hands and disembowels him so he can feast on his organs as well.  Somehow the man is still living when he is found by some of the unaffected humans.  They realize that he is now infected with the zombie disease so they must stab him in the cerebellum to destroy his brain and end his undead existence.

There are several more gory bloody scenes in the show, but that was probably the most disturbing.  The Walking Dead is on the AMC channel.  The shows on AMC are known for breaking tradition with the kind of censorship that the so-called Network TV shows have.  It boasts Mad Men and Breaking Bad which both push the limits of what is acceptable viewing on TV-Mad Men for its sex, Breaking Bad for its violence and both for their storylines of depraved humanity.

I must say though, that in watching the new shows on the Network channels, I have to wonder if the censors are on hiatus based on the kind of violence I have seen. The Black List  is a new show on NBC about a criminal operative who turns himself in to the FBI. He gains immunity by helping to expose the list of criminals that he formerly worked with.  The two shows I have seen included stories about a serial killer and an assassin who used gruesome techniques of torture and murder on their victims. In these tales we view these acts in bloody detail.

Another popular show on NBC is Revolution.  It is a tale of a post-apocalyptic America full of brutal violence and torture as well.

The increase in graphic violence and its subsequent increase in popularity among TV viewers cause me to ask the question “Is violence the new porn?”  Is there a growing addiction among Americans for blood and gore and violence? Some of this, I am sure is influenced by the increase in graphic violence in video games and their influence on the culture.  But I have to wonder where will this addiction lead?   There is no question that there is an increase in violence in the real world as well, perhaps as a result of the virtual violence that is experienced in video games, TV and movies.

2012 showed a 1.1 increase in violent crime and a 11% increase in violence against property for the first time in 6 years.  As the violence portrayed for us increases so does the violence we experience.  The greed of network producers causes them to refuse to accept responsibility for how they are affecting society, but continue to increase the dosage to increase the addiction and the dependence of the audience.

So I for one say no.  I will break the addiction and choose more positive influences.

And as the Bible teaches

Philippians 4:8

[ Meditate on These Things ] Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.