Archives for posts with tag: The Walking Dead

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It is interesting how art imitates life. As I reflect on the new Season of The Walking Dead, it is apparent to me that as the story line has changed and we are discovering different communities with varied governing entities, there are definite parallels to the leadership changes that are happening in the U. S.

I have written more than a few times about how Anarchy is the new Utopia for Gen X and Boomers which explains the large viewing audience in these demographics. As these two generations have watched government continue to grab power and limit personal freedom, the anarchy of the dystopic world of the Dead has its appeal.

The danger of the walkers pales in comparison to the evil that men do when they organize and create a governing leadership. This has been shown time and time again throughout the tale of the The Dead. The Governor, Terminus and even the Hospital community where Beth died all were examples of how power corrupts and people are more dangerous than flesh eating zombies.

The only leader who seems to be almost immune from the corruption of power is Rick Grimes, the long suffering former Sheriff.  I would call him the Libertarian-the Gary Johnson- of The Walking Dead.  Although he ultimately becomes the main leader of Alexandria, his leadership is not about power over others.  He allows freedom of choice among his followers and asks for the input of others on his decision-making.  His rule is more of a min-archy.  Minimum of rules, maximum of freedom, limited government.

The fatal mistake Rick made was breaking into the Saviour’s compound as an attempt to take them down to protect the Hilltop community from the brutal hold they had over them.  He took on a battle that was not his and overestimated the power of his group.  This prideful decision may show the beginning of corruption from the power of his leadership.  Ultimately this decision lead to the death of two of his main followers Abraham and Glen and the beginning of the iron fisted rule of Negan over Alexandria.

America, on the other hand, seems to have chosen to be ruled by a leader not unlike Negan to replace their leader who is not unlike King Ezekial.

King Ezekial is the smooth talking benevolent dictator who rules The Kingdom with a velvet hammer (and a tiger by his side).  He tells Carol “People want a leader.”  I echo this thought in my book Blessed Are They That Hunger .  Although God wanted the Israelite people to be a Theocracy with God as the leader, they begged Him for a king.  King is a fitting title for the outgoing president of the United States who used his Executive orders to enact his will more like a monarch than a president. And like King Ezekial he is smooth talking and reminds his followers that everything he does is for their own good.  I am reminded of a quote by CS Lewis:

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.

Apparently, America was fed up with Obama and the Liberal agenda of the Democratic Party because his antecessor was not elected to office.

The President-elect has all the markings of Negan.  He may be the robber baron that CS Lewis refers to.  He makes no pretense to his iron rule with niceties and platitudes while enacting his will upon the people.  There is no duplicity about him.  His speech is brash and crude with no thought to lulling the masses into submission, but imposing his rule with an iron fist -no velvet to cushion the blow (or in the case of Negan, a barbed wire wrapped bat.)

Fortunately for America, there is another power to keep in check the power of the president, and that is the power of the other branches of government.  The Congress and Supreme Court stymied the will of the exiting President, and I trust will do the same with the President-elect.

So far no regime has successfully taken away our weapons the way the leaders in The Walking Dead did.  The president- elect promises to restore gun rights as he “Makes America Great Again”.

Time will tell if the promises of the election are fulfilled but as for me, my hope is in the Lord God.

Psalm 20:6-821st Century King James Version (KJ21)

6 Now I know that the Lord saveth His anointed; He will hear him from His holy heaven with the saving strength of His right hand.

7 Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.

8 They are brought down and fallen; but we are risen and stand upright.

bonhoeffer

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.

Alexandria

Season 5 has been an interesting journey into the world of The Walking Dead on TV.  For the first time our rag-tag group of survivors have found a bit of utopia in the dystopic world they live in.  They have found Alexandria- a beautiful community of elegant homes in manicured landscaping with electricity and hot water and food, safely tucked behind an ominous wall.

But as the strange “man of God” Gabriel says in last week’s episode “Satan disguises himself as an angel of light”.  There is an evil lurking in this shiny world.  The most dangerous form of evil is to deny its existence.   The people of Alexandria are under the mistaken impression that the only evil is the walkers outside the protective walls of their community.

They don’t believe that there could be any evil among the survivors so they do not allow anyone to be armed within the walls of the community.  They have rules and those that will not abide by the rules are exiled into the world of walkers outside the walls.

“The rules” do not allow for self-sacrifice or heroics to save and protect one another but there is a survival of the fittest creed that they appear to hold to.  Relationships among the Alexandrites seem to be shallow and forced and for the most part they isolate into their shiny granite-countered, stainless steel homes.

But they forget “the evil that men do.” I wrote in a previous blog how the anarchic world of The Walking Dead appeals to the mostly millennial and Gen-X audience who want a world without a controlling government.

As the series shows over and over the real evil is the evil perpetrated by the human beings not the living dead.  Anarchy cannot protect mankind from itself.  The selfish nature of the people of Alexandria is shown in the refusal to protect Francine from the Walkers on the constructions site and Nicholas’ every man for himself attitude on supply runs.  We are also privy to some physical abuse that is going on in Jessy and Dr. Pete’s home.  The greatest evil is, that Deanna the leader of Alexandria refuses to take action against Dr. Pete because his surgical skills are needed by the community.

Could it be that another more horrible evil is being perpetrated outside the walls by humans as well?  The naked woman tied to a tree to be fed on by walkers had to be the doings of the living not the walking dead.

It must be remembered that the Good Book says “No one is righteous—     not even one. 11 No one is truly wise;     no one is seeking God. 12 All have turned away;     all have become useless. No one does good,     not a single one.” 13 “Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave.     Their tongues are filled with lies.” “Snake venom drips from their lips.” 14     “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.” 15 “They rush to commit murder. 16     Destruction and misery always follow them. 17 They don’t know where to find peace.” 18     “They have no fear of God at all.” Romans 3:10-18

This is true of mankind in the real world as much as the fictional world of “The Dead” even if Gabriel tears the pages out of the Bible.

RIP Bethboy hugs cop

As violence increases in movies and TV, it continues to increase in our lives as well.

I have been watching The Walking Dead for the past two seasons. During that time there have not been too many characters that I have grown fond of.  As the Apocalypse progresses the characters are evolving to be less compassionate, less vulnerable, and less human.  They are not very lovable.

Even Rick and Darryl, both initially good men, have changed because of the violent callousness they are forced to embody in order to survive.

Hope for humanity is left to the next generation, the children, who have been shielded and protected from most of the violence and for the most part have not had to participate in the killing of walkers or corrupt humans.  Beth is one of these.

After she is rescued from the safe house where she was staying with Darryl, she is taken to a hospital in Atlanta.  She continues to have some hope but finds herself imprisoned by the law enforcement officers, led by Dawn Lerner, who run the hospital.  In the process of earning her keep by working in the hospital, she is put in two situations that force her to kill law officers.  By the final episode of the season Beth realizes that she was set up to make these killings by Dawn so that she could get rid of potentially subversive officers without culpability.

Beth has struggled to stay positive throughout the series, even making a suicide attempt in episode 2.

She seems to have lost hope completely by the mid-season finale episode.  She sits in the broken elevator shaft staring longingly down, remembering her escape attempt with Noah.

“Are you gonna jump?” Dawn asks her.

Maybe Beth is contemplating a more permanent escape.  She does voice her hopelessness to Dawn:

“You… You keep telling yourself you have to do whatever it takes just until this is all over. But it isn’t over, this is it. This is who you are and what this place is until the end.”

Beth shows that in spite of it all, she has not lost her compassion or her humanity.  She fights for Carol when Dawn orders her life support machines be turned off and steals medicine in order to keep her alive.

Her final act of humanity is to kill Dawn to save Noah from imprisonment in the hospital.  Did she know this would be at the cost of her life?  It is hard to say, but I don’t think she would regret her decision either way.

She died with her humanity intact because she was willing to risk her life to end Dawn’s cruel reign of terror and save Noah. As the Good Book says :

John 15:13

There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

Maybe Beth’s sacrifice will be the conduit to break the hardened hearts of the other characters, so that it will serve a higher purpose as the story unfolds.

As art imitates life, I can reflect on the violence and mayhem that one young man’s death has perpetrated in Ferguson, Missouri and throughout the U.S.  Are we as a nation losing our humanity, our love, and our compassion?  Are we unable to forgive and:

Romans 12:19

never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the Lord.?

I am reminded of the words of another young black man:

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

― Martin Luther King Jr., A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches

May we as a nation return from darkness to light, from hate to love.  May we live and die with our humanity intact.

Rest in Peace Michael and Beth.

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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