The Walking Dead and the Dystopian Obsession

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WALKINGDEAD2.pngStudent Leader member Jonathan Wilder submitted this interesting and informative take on AMC's The Walking Dead:

Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead is undeniably one of the most popular and successful modern shows. According to an article by the Hollywood Reporter, the midseason premiere this past Sunday had 15.8 million viewers. Why is this show such a success? It could be a cultural trend.

 

Divergent, The Hunger Games, and The Walking Dead. What do these all have in common? They are all widely popular and take place in a dystopian universe. The success of the aforementioned may be an unintentional, yet profound statement by the youth of this era. Dr. Beth Weiner, a clinical psychologist, astutely stated, "I think there is a certain amount of hopelessness in our society and we channel it into fantasy movies and books with those kinds of themes. So, we can divorce ourselves from that despair." This phenomenon is heavily embedded in The Walking Dead universe.

 

The Walking Dead questions to what extent humans are willing to go to in their fight for survival. The viewers inherently wonder: Would I be the steadfastly moral Rick or would I devolve into the likes of the Governor? The fourth season's midseason premiere connected with the audience on an emotional level while following the typically stoic  Michonne as she finally broke down. The audience was able to project real-life vulnerabilities onto Michonne. Truthfully, we are not that much different than the people of The Walking Dead universe and that is definitely why it is so compelling.

 

Even if the correct conclusion is that dystopian genre is representative of modern day society, it does not mean the world is entirely dark and gloomy. This is just a trend in the spectrum of popular culture. Who knows what will come next?

 

Works Cited

 

O'Connell, Michael. "TV Ratings: 'The Walking Dead' Outperforms Winter Olympics." hollywoodreporter.com<http://hollywoodreporter.com>. The Hollywood Reporter, 10 February 2014. Web. 13 Feb. 2014.

 

Weiner, Beth. Personal Interview. 13 Feb. 2014.

 

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1 Comment

I agree, there's something intriguing if not thrilling about the prospect of doing away with the mundane problems and complications of modern life and chucking it all in favor of living by one's wits on the razor's edge of survival in an arena that is one part Zombieland theme park and another part crucible of faith ("faith" in humanity, religion, one's self--whatever any given viewer of the show might bring to the table).
And the deep character development on this show allows the audience to make such strong connections to those characters. An interesting exercise is to pick the character that you feel is most representative of how you yourself might behave in some post-apocalyptic scenario where the chips are down and the normal rules no longer apply, and watch to see how that character actually fares. Even the most ruthless and stalwart--no matter how tough they think they are--turn out to have their vulnerabilities, and those who might at first blush seem most likely to fall victim to the the predations of others (humans and zombies alike) turn out to have surprising inner strength and adaptability.

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This page contains a single entry by Ed published on February 14, 2014 3:36 PM.

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