I also submitted one on The Walking Dead. The panel I suggested was concerning why it it that, although Walking Dead is proving a ratings bonanza for AMC (its recent episode, which aired Sunday, February 9th, scored 15.8 million viewers, with the key demographic being 18-49 year olds, which we all know advertisers salivate to get the attention of) why hasn’t it received the critical praise lavished on other AMC shows such as Mad Men and Breaking Bad.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that Walking Dead has some problems. It’s a show that is gory and bloody, which has no qualms about killing off key characters and in some cases, quite beloved characters, and it’s also a show that pretty much seems to hold out no hope to anyone. Maybe a glimmer, but that glimmer is like the brief twinkle of a firefly on a summer’s night and it’s usually quickly snuffed out by the overwhelming darkness and horror of this world.
It is a nightmarish world overrun by the walking dead, in which there is no infrastructure, no government, no one you can depend upon but yourself, family and some friends, and, to top it all off, you have just as much to fear from your fellow human beings, as from the walkers. The walkers just want to chomp on your innards. Your fellow humans want to take your stuff; your food, water, weapons, even where you live.
It’s a show that seems merciless in offering no reprieve and, most of all, no hope. It’s a show that I love to rant about with relatives and friends because sometimes it frustrates me to no end and yet….and yet….I can’t wait to watch the next installment!
I’ve been reading a book called The Walking Dead and Philosophy. It’s one in a series of books published by Open Court Publishing. They’ve been publishing these pop culture philosophy books since 2000, with the first book titled Seinfeild and Philosophy: A Book About Everything and Nothing.
I’ve been reading books in the series off and on. These are the ones I’ve read:
- The Simpsons and Philosophy: The D’oh! of Homer (2001)
- The Matrix and Philosophy: Welcome to the Desert of the Real (2002)
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Philosophy: Fear and Trembling in Sunnydale (2003)
- The Lord of the Rings and Philosophy: One Book to Rule Them All (2003)
- Harry Potter and Philosophy: If Aristotle Ran Hogwarts (2004)
- More Matrix and Philosophy: Revolutions and Reloaded Decoded (2005)
- Star Wars and Philosophy: More Powerful Than You Can Possibly Imagine (2005)
- Battlestar Galactica and Philosophy: Mission Accomplished or Mission Frakked Up? (2008)
- Star Trek and Philosophy: The Wrath of Kant (2008)
- The Walking Dead and Philosophy (2012)
Philosophy was one of my favorite courses in college and combining it with pop culture, especially SF&F pop culture, nerd that I am, is too hard to resist.
You can check out all the books they’ve published so far here.
Some of the essays can be a bit dry, causing my eyes to glaze over. But overall I’ve enjoyed reading the books I’ve read so far. They make me think and they raise some intriguing questions, particularly as it relates to morality and ethics.
Speaking of, a course is being offered at Central Michigan University called “From Revelation to the Walking Dead”. Here’s a quote from the article:
Murphy’s class will discuss biblical texts, review popular novels and watch clips from movies such as “Shaun of the Dead” and “28 Days Later.” Students also will discuss hypothetical ethical and theological problems that people could encounter in a post-apocalyptic world.
Which is what The Walking Dead and Philosophy deals with and is one of the major things I love about the show.The moral and ethical dilemmas. I don’t want to give away spoilers, but pretty much most of the moral dilemmas revolve around when is it okay to kill. Is it okay to kill someone who may become a potential threat? Is it okay to kill someone else so that you can stay alive? Is it okay to kill yourself? Or is it wrong? If so, why is it wrong? The world of The Walking Dead pretty much sucks big time and even the creator of the graphic novel, Robert Kirkman, admitted he’d kill himself instead of try to survive in that world.
Robert Kirkman on what he would do in the zombie apocalypse: “I would kill myself. I don’t have any urge to do that, but I’ve been writing about this for so long … I’d jump off a bridge. People come up to me and say, ‘I’d hole up in a school’ … no you wouldn’t. You’d be somebody’s pet, because the whole world would turn into a prison.” Entertainment Weekly
Is it right to bring children into this world? And what are one’s responsibilities to one’s child in teaching them to survive. And are the walking dead really dead? I mean, they’re walking around, so that seems to suggest some kind of “life”, but they’re not alive because they don’t interact with humans except to eat them. Which could suggest that they’re “alive” but just not human. Like animals. The problem is that when you shoot one of the walkers, unless you destroy the brain, they just keep coming at you, even if they have no legs. Or arms.
I don’t believe in zombies or zombie apocalypses. But I do believe it is very, very possible for we humans to turn our world into a place as horrifying as the one depicted in The Walking Dead, sans zombies of course. Honestly, human beings who are desperate and hungry and afraid are scary enough, thank you very much.
We don’t necessarily have to worry about a shuffling mega herd of the walking dead descending upon on our homes, but we do, at times in our lives, face similar moral and ethical dilemmas. That’s what fiction is about and why it does serve a purpose. It allows to us explore these questions from the safety and comfort of our homes, instead of as the “reality” of the folks in The Walking Dead who, with every horrifying day, must struggle to survive in a world gone totally mad.
Anyway, those are the two panel suggestions I made for Odd Con. I hope they get picked. It’s always interesting to hear what other folks have to say about a topic.