TWD: The Misanthropocalypse Continues Apace

Spoiler Alert for The Walking Dead

As I explained in this post about morality in fictional universes, many entrants to the post-apocalypse genre of story telling express anti-human morals. I don’t fuck with that. I said there,

I cannot watch these shows anymore (TWD and FtWD), as compelling as the perpetual danger and lovely actors may be. I just started watching them in early spring 2015 and quit fall of the same year. It took an embarrassingly long time to do so, but I figured out what was bothering me about them. Both shows have the exact same moral, playing out the exact same way, over and over and over again.

If it was a moral I agreed with, that might not be a problem. But I disagree with it powerfully. It’s the underpinning of so much of what’s wrong with America – trust no one, everyone’s trying to get over, fuck them before they fuck you. Some of you might disagree that’s what they’re communicating, but it really is.

The show, just like America itself, makes exceptions for those close to you, based on closeness. Trust no one (except your family), and so on. On the show it’s the people you know the best – your enclave / faction / posse, whatever – that can be trusted, and everyone else is wrong, dangerous, deluded, or even a cannibal. IRL America, it’s your family first, and everyone else is trying to steal your tax dollars or make your children gay or whatever. And if you must stand in solidarity with someone outside your doors, it’s your race or gender first, everyone else is out to take your jobs, or trick or rob you, or terrorism on you, or try to reverse the situation so that white menz become the most oppressed group evarrrrr.

This plays out in our economy as a situation of total desperation, just a gigantic pile of everyone screwing everyone, the Hobbesian war of all against all. It hurts us emotionally and physically. It’s felt the most by poor people, but can be seen clearly at every level of our society if you know what you’re looking at. It really doesn’t have to be this way; it’s just the same overwhelming fear of the Other that drives the plots of Walking Dead shows along their inexorable crappy path.

In another post on Tumblr (“The Walking Dead to Me“) inspired by the Glenn Rhee fakeout death (I wasn’t hip to the feint yet), I wrote:

…The show is just too bitterly misanthropic… Basically, any generosity toward humans outside of your immediate tribal unit is punished by painful horrible death, because people can never be trustedddddd.  The writer is no doubt a rethuglican gun fondling jingoist piece of trash.

And yeah, now the entire Asian-American population of the southeast USA is extinct, so, bleeahhh.  Fuck those writers right in their filthy conservative necks.  Their brand of edgy “moral courage” is the kind of banal evil that passes for virtue in mainstream amurrica and I’m so tired of it.  I’m gonna sleep on the show now (& its spinoff), and kindly advise all good people to do the same.

Now that Glenn has actually met the fate he suffered in the comic books (killed by yet another white “alpha” male – apparently the most naturally dominant form of human life in lieu of law), that post is once again completely accurate.  I don’t know though, I’m not actually watching the show.  Any other Asian characters in sight?

I feel like I had something to add to this thesis but it eludes me.  Just, right now, on the eve of Trump‘s more-narrow-than-it-should-be defeat, this worldview has a louder mouthpiece than usual.  The place I work for sells fascist propaganda from convicted election fraudster Dinesh D’Souza and others.  Ideas that belong on the outer fringe of human thought are packaged by billionaire-funded haters and sold through mass market outlets.

But the excesses of contemporary right wingers are just tapping into something that’s already there – the rotten core of the american dream.  All I have left for this subject is exhaustion.  G’night.


  1. EveryZig says

    I agree with this feeling on post-apocalyptic stories and zombie stories in particular being very over-edgy and hyper-cynical. I’ve even seen a zombie board game (Dead of Winter) that simulates everyone working against each other to an implausible degree by giving each player an arbitrary secret objective that they can’t fully win without meeting and are not allowed to simply tell the other players about because some of them are secretly out to kill the other characters.

    I would though like to mention a zombie* story that thoroughly avoids the anti-human trope: the webcomic Stand Still Stay Silent. It has a notable lack of evil humans, and while the characters all have flaws they are ultimately are in it together. The story (after the prologue) also involves the remaining settlements not being invariably doomed or dystopian like in most of the genre. I have to wonder whether these differences are due to the comic being Scandinavian (both the author and the setting), and therefore likely less prone to the obsession with rugged individualism that is common in American culture.

    * It is debatable whether it is technically a zombie story. I classify it as one since its premise involves a world mostly destroyed by a plague that transforms people into mindless monsters. It is unlike most zombie stories in that the plague killed most people like a super-flu before the monster transformations, the monsters are called “trolls” and look more like HR Geiger meat monsters than dead humans, and the monsters are supernatural rather than merely physics-defying with no explanation.

  2. Jake Harban says

    I gave up on F/TWD not because of the moral issues but because it was simply boring.

    It’s a show about an apocalypse in which any discussion of what caused and any attempt to rebuild the society which collapsed are both simply ruled out so there really isn’t anywhere for the story to go. Attempting to build a show on the relationships between characters won’t work if all the characters are irritating assholes, and they have to be since it’s already been decided from the outset that they’re completely incurious about what happened and completely disinterested in fixing it.

  3. Great American Satan says

    EZig @1 – That sounds cool. I link to it for the interested, know I’ll check it out myself: Also, yes, I really think that america is to blame on this one. I’ve looked into the heart of this country many times. You can see it most clearly when things are close to the wire – when money is bad, people are sick, debt is mounting, homelessness is imminent. Maybe it’s because I’m a social outsider, but I can also easily see how it doesn’t have to be like this. Like, others assume this situation is some kind of natural truth, but I can see there’s an idea inside it, and ideas are artificial, changeable. I have no doubt there are entire cultures that are operating on different assumptions, better and worse.

    Jake @2 – The actors have some charisma, at least for me, but the writing really limits my ability to like them as well. Like in the last episode or so of Fear the Walking Dead when Ruben Blades unleashes a zombie horde just to serve as a distraction for their plan to get family members back. Everyone else seems to have agreed with the plan & had to know it would get a lot of people killed, and whatever discussion was involved happened completely off screen. It made it seem like a casual thing, like, the hell is wrong with u fuckers?

  4. Jake Harban says

    @1, 3:

    I would though like to mention a zombie* story that thoroughly avoids the anti-human trope: the webcomic Stand Still Stay Silent.

    That sounds cool. I link to it for the interested, know I’ll check it out myself:

    Archive binge in progress….

  5. Jake Harban says

    OK, I read Stand Still Stay Silent. It’s a great comic but I’m having a tiny problem— I cannot tell the characters apart.

    Maybe it’s autism? Or maybe it’s just because white Scandinavians all look the same.

  6. Great American Satan says

    Hoooo… Yeah, anime/disney -ish characters need some help being distinctive, and the everyone-has-shag-cuts + racial homogeneity isn’t helping.

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