Contributing writer for The Artifice.
Junior Contributor I
Decoding Social Commentary in The Walking Dead
Some weeks ago, there was an episode of the Walking Dead that appeared to serve as a commentary on real world events. It was a story of one group of people, reduced to an almost primitive cult-like state, driven to attack another segment of society that endeavored to hold on to current notions of civilized existence. This group that faced attack was comprised of survivors living in a kind of gated community somewhat untouched by the horrific realities of the outside world.
This one episode could easily be seen as a commentary on our fears of the other, about the encroachment of medieval fundamentalism and our relationship to modernity (as a sometimes violent counterforce). The attackers in this episode had a religious zeal for delivering death as way of providing an answer for the "civilians" ills. Those that survived the onslaught wielded modern weaponry (in contrast to the attackers who were armed only with sharp or blunt instruments, painted faces and madness). Those who lived within the city limits (as it were) and imagined a safe life of homemaking simplicity were cut down while the people trained in the art of killing (even those who first tried to use non-lethal methods) survived.
Obviously, the tradition for the Zombie film as a symbolic experience was set by Romero with Night of The Living Dead (Vietnam) and his follow-up Dawn of THe Dead (consumerism). With The Walking Dead we appear to be in The Age of Terrorism.
The Monster is alive and well, and, as always, is us.