I like the TV show "The Walking Dead"
. Its well acted, the producers treat the subject with respect, the show does its best to use the Zombie Apocalypse as a spring board for observing humans under pressure, the cinematography is okay, and the moral and logistical dilemmas are interesting. I'm on board. Mostly.
But, man... sometimes its hard to buy Zombie Fiction.
I won't go into the logistics of zombie metabolism and how the only Zombie movie I've seen handle the logical endgame of zombies logically was 28 Days Later
(organic things gotta eat. Either the zombies start eating each other, or its a wildfire that will burn itself out).
Nor will I go into how I suspect anything as virulent as Zombie-ism, and that requires a slow death to take effect and renders its carriers nigh-mindless, would likely get quarantined and shut down within two days.
I also won't get into the logistics of the unlikely the spread of anything beyond a localized zombie outbreak would be (do zombies fly on international flights? If so, the TSA really needs some improvements.).
The one thing I've learned about Us since 9/11 is that if we think a situation is getting slightly outside our comfort zone, we will freak out. Fear of death (especially of a death that would lead to a wretched, rambling undeath) is an incredibly powerful force. I mean, it rains a little and traffic gums up for hours. We think teeter-totters are too dangerous for kids. Heck, we're currently deciding its not big deal to let perfect strangers take nude pictures of us so we can get to Vegas without having to drive. And we certainly don't have any problem throwing anyone who is not ourself under the bus in the name of self-preservation.
So when I see a touching scene of a woman still cradling her sister ten seconds after she's gone full zombie and the slightest nip means the same awful fate for her?
1) We have a pretty good understanding these days of how infection is spread. If we're willing to stand on the other side of glass in hospitals for newborn babies and send Purell sales sky rocketing when a few people have the flu, I don't see people anybody lovingly cradling their blood-soaked loved ones. And much like 28 Days Later
, if any blood did get on you, you would freak the @#$% out.
2) I don't know how many people would really sit around and wait for someone infected to slowly die, metabolize, and become a zombie. Especially while holding or touching that person. Walking Dead
and other shows suggest that we'll all sit through the transformation of our loved ones (or even friendly acquaintances) right up to the point of zombification. I believe a few people would want to do that, but in any kind of group? The first rule is going to be "we don't wait".
3) People are going to let the ones with the least risky plans take the lead. Given what we now consider completely normal in the name of "national security" and the siege mentality we've agreed to live under in - surprisingly mundane aspects of our lives because its "safer" than if we didn't agree to the changes- suggests we want someone else telling us what to do in high pressure situations. When you're in the zombie apocalypse and someone suggests "anybody who gets bit gets a bullet in the skull" and you parse it logically, you're going to agree. And when something bad happens to Uncle Louie, you're going to fall back on the fact that we all agreed, the decision was made when he threw in with your group, and that he's gotta take a bullet. There not going to be teary scenes as you help guide Uncle Louie to the sweet zombie beyond, and, likely Uncle Louie is going to be onboard with a quick exit.
And I assure you, if you're in my
Zombie Apocalypse survival group, anyone who gets so much as a nip is getting a bullet.
And, no, the Zombie Apocalypse scenario is not going to wind up looking too much like a democracy.
4) There will be safety in numbers, so I don't see people deciding to break off because of philosophical disagreements (unless there's a critical mass willing to give up their safety). This is going to lead to some bizarre set ups for survivors (which is what I think Walking Dead
is sort of trading on as a show, its just not gotten to the tragically pragmatic part quite yet).
Now, I understand that this stuff (the cradling the zombie-bit sister, carting around a nigh-zombie and leaving him alone with worried looking colleagues) is done for dramatic effect. Its also done to get the same emotional impact you get when you want to stand up in a theater and tell the co-ed "don't go in the dark room! The killer is in there!", but... it always takes me out of the scene. It just always feels like "hey, somebody here would surely say something." And, honestly, at this point in my zombie media consumption, I've seen the slow death a dozen times. I'm more interested in seeing the scene play out where Alpha Leader tells mourning sister "you don't get to stay with her and hold her. We're not going to let her suffer for hours or days until she turns. She's laying there until she's passed out, and then we're finishing her and burning her."
As it has appeared in most movies, Zombification isn't a flu. It isn't even something a lot tougher you can possibly beat with medicine or recover from. It has 100% chance of killing the carrier and 100% chance of that carrier getting up and rabidly attacking anyone they can reach with their teeth. I don't even see survivors taking the chance of spreading infection by burying the corpses when the bodies can decompose into the water table, and/ or lie dormant and/ or dig their way out. I see a lot of pyres happening.
Sure, I've got an Omega Plan in place for Zombie Apocalypse. Lets just say it doesn't end with sunshine and roses for anyone involved. And, frankly, I don't really get how and why the nuclear options don't ever appear in zombie movies. Instead, its almost always scrappy survivors squabbling and trying to figure out what to do with the dead weight victim who will inevitably turn and cause drama.
I do get that part of Zombie fiction is that everyone second guesses the solutions and opinions of those trying to survive. But at some point, you do sort of get tired of characters doing something because it sounds good in a writing room and not because it seems... true. Even true to a premise as far-fetched as zombie apocalypse. Its a concern with a weekly show that it will rely on "dramatic" scenes to keep the juice flowing and get those tears out of the audience. And I'm not sure how long an audience is going to stick with "Cruelly Pragmatic Survivors of the Apocalypse".
While I am very much enjoying this season of The Walking Dead
, I'm beginning to remember why I quit reading the comic book series upon which the show is based after the second volume. At some point, I just quit buying some of the story. I haven't watched the season finale yet, but did watch the 2nd to last episode this evening. Looking forward to the finale, and I have high hopes that the show is going to last long enough that we'll see all kinds of variations and reactions to Zombie Apocalypse.