As a new season of the hit zombie apocalypse series returns to our mind-control machines, it's never more evident the strikingly apparent similarity between our fervent rapacious desire for all things zombie, and our current sad situation of the majority of the population being consumer-controlled zombies themselves. Ok, a "Belieber" fanatic might not try to crack open your skull and feast on the brainy goodness inside, but in an IQ test between said Belieber and zombie? Far too close to call.
The Walking Dead portrays a hellish nightmare future, where no one is safe from a virus that permeates what is left of society, and each character has to eek out a barbaric and brutal existence just to survive. One wrong turn could trap you within a thousand strong throng of mindless creatures, aimlessly shuffling through the streets, hell-bent on satisfying their devilish cravings. That reminds me, when is the next Black Friday?
I like to think of Rick and co as the "awakened" ones. They have all gone through a traumatic episode in their lives, Rick was almost killed, Carol was an abused housewife and Darryl was always an outcast, and through that experience have become to see the world through a different lens. They are able to perceive reality for what it really is - a chaotic, fragmented world where the population has been largely reduced to a herd of vicious, brainless and heartless monsters out for their own pound of flesh.
The show centres heavily around the choices each survivor has to make on terms of his/her own morality and how far they will stray from their humanistic values into their more primal, savage nature. Perhaps this is a stark foreboding of the choices we may one day, ourselves, have to make. The global economy is about as stable as an Irishman in a pub, a bunch of crazed lunatics are on the rampage in the Middle East and soon Noah's flood could seem like the log flume at Alton Towers.
“There are only nine meals between mankind and anarchy.” - Alfred Henry Lewis (1855-1914)
Are we so obsessed with the zombie culture because we are being given a glimpse into a mirror universe, where the thing that makes us human, our humanity, has been stripped away to the rotting bone, to leave only a hollow shell of a killing and eating machine? Perhaps Rick's acknowledgement is correct - there is no use for morality and compassion if those traits are worthless in a society that does not recognise them. A walker does not care if you want peace. It'll tear your face off quicker than you can fashion your faded underpants into a flag of truce and shout 'parley'.
Many of us are hoodwinked into this zombie-induced state by the West’s mesmerizing culture machine. It toils day and night, the unyielding smokestacks of the printed press spewing forth noxious stereotypes and poisonous rhetoric, the chicanery of the bigoted news conglomerates, the mind-manipulating marketing moguls and the toxicity of the Hollywood-sculpted “American Dream”, all fogging our judgement and skewing our values. The late comedian George Carlin said, “It’s called the American Dream because you have to be asleep to believe it.” But then, a world where nobody is fully awake to make conscious, aware decisions on their own is a far more controllable world.
Well, I for one intend to seriously hound my local MP to vote NO on the next "create a nasty virus that re-animates the dead so then they try to eat us" bill, sit down with my fellow passive zombie citizens and indulge myself for a while in a rare bit of good TV programming, and try desperately to ignore the despairing similarities with the show and the "real" world...