True confession: I have now watched maybe six whole episodes of ‘Walking Dead’ (at the vehement insistence of friends) – and find it B O R I N G. What’s the big deal? Zombies, Survival, Warring Tribes (yawn).
I’ve just been reading that we are in the midst of some kind of cultural Renaissance driven by excellence in television. Seems the venue for passive consumption of high quality artistic expression has moved from the Cineplex to the flat screen. You have big Hollywood types – David Fincher (oooooo) and Oliver Stone (oooooo) and Kevin Spacey (ooooo) and So On (ooooo) – moving over from the big screen to bring the highest quality, best acted, written and directed stories to us.
Stories. Unreal, escapist, often stupid Stories. Come on: the High School Chemistry teacher who shifts over to making the highest quality Meth in the world after learning he has limited time to live? Oh, I hate it when that happens. Come on: The suburban mom who, having lost her income stream and means of support shifts over to merrily selling pot to her friends and neighbors (what is this obsession we have with the oh so romantic illicit drug culture?). And don’t get me started on The Walking Dead and The Game of Thrones.
The only thing more unreal, more stupifying is the big screen’s fascination with comic book heroes. Do we really need another Batman, Spiderman, Captain America, Iron Man, Avengers movie? Thor? Are we so devoid of creative energy that we have to rip off Norse mythology for our celluloid jollies? How many of the people paying $12 to see Thor have any notion of where the story originates, of what the real cultural significance is?
(Even today’s great movies often leave me cold. ‘Gravity?’ It’s a comic book. ‘Philomena?’ I cried; I got angry. But it’s a Lifetime Channel made-for-tv movie.)
Rant rant rant rant rant! Rave Rave Rave! Quack quack quack quack quack!
(My metaphor for the burgeoning excellence of television is Bob Dylan making a television commercial for Chrysler.)
TV has always been a territorial war for control of the real estate located between your ears. From Donna Reed to House of Cards, it’s the same war; the playbook has just become more sophisticated.
Read Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 (or passively watch the excellent movie). The population is kept numb and unquestioning largely through the programming pumped onto their giant wall screens. The hero makes his break only by first breaking the pull of the tube. Great science fiction has always been predictive and, I’m sorry: I think we are there. Now.
It is entirely possible that the Zombie Apocalypse is upon us . . . but it won’t be the one that comes on TV every Sunday night. In this story, it’s not the un-dead and the survivors; it’s those under the sway of ‘The Gilded Age of Television’ and those who aren’t. Your task is to discern which ones are the Zombies.