There are two villains in the modern world that we are allowed to hate without reservation, Nazis/racists (boo! Hiss!) and zombies. Vampires, shape shifters and werewolves have all been made cool and sexy by True blood.
Zombies however are stupid, smelly and one-dimensional. All they want to do is eat brains. This gives us license to shoot their asses.
‘The Walking Dead’ takes full advantage of this, gleefully chopping, blasting and blowing these suckers to bits at the slightest opportunity (though it’s noticeable that some of the audience felt the early part of the second season wasn’t doing that enough…which tells you what kind of audience it’s attracting)
Whereas a show like ‘True Blood’ promotes tolerance and uses the fantastical nature of its scenario to make you see things from several vantages points (human, vampire, shape shifter, fairy) The Walking Dead simplifies everything down to a brutal truth – kill or die. In this world there is no room for perspective when there’s a herd of zombies coming at you.
In that way ‘The Walking Dead’ is as much like an old school western as it is a zombie film. In fact, I’d argue that the zombies are really a PC version of Indians for our ‘cowboys’ to shoot. This has become very apparent in the second season as the survivors increasingly take on the lifestyles of cowboys by living on a ranch, riding and shooting guns. The whole atmosphere is very pioneer America. It’s also the kind of world that the average Tea Party supporter would love. Everyone gets to own a gun, no one pays taxes and there’s no government. I can almost hear them give a collective orgasmic sigh.
Which brings me to the conclusion that in its violence and simplification, ‘The Walking Dead’ is actually quite right wing. Just like the average John Wayne western.
It wants to drag us back to a time where men were men. And so were the women.