I like The Walking Dead.
Both the television show and the comics (oops – sorry – Graphic Novels). Being born at the lagging tail end of the Baby Boom, I grew up when the concept of zombies moved from shambling voodoo-created slaves in Hammer films to the apocalyptic vision of George (the Gore) Romero in Night of the Living Dead. The film that paved the way for all Zombie Apocalypses to come. All great fun.
But on a more philosophical note, I wonder if when I was a teenager in the early seventies I equated those nasty selfish older people trapped in the house fighting off the zombie horde with other people in the world around me. “The “Man”; the “Establishment”. The only child in Night of the Living Dead was a pre-teen girl who turned out to be the death of her mother and father, Just like mom predicted, I am sure, on more than one occasion.
But the world has moved on and what were fringe creatures and ideas are now mainstream entertainment in big budget movies and multi-season TV shows.George Romero’s original film was made for a budget of $114,000 and was shot in five months. Since its release in 1968 it has grossed over $30,000,000 worldwide and has spawned not only a cult following of its own, but has given rise to (sorry) dozens of cheap rip-off copy-cat films, several sequels, handfuls of homage films with big budgets, name stars and huge production costs, a cracker-jack TV series and hundreds of comics and books.
So what effect have the legions of zombies, or the walking dead, had on our collective psyche? How do we view them, who do we think they are?
Here are two opposite opinions. I heard the first in a coffee shop conversation in the recent pastbetween a couple of young guys who commented on an older couple shuffling along in line to get their coffee.
“Check out the walking dead people.”
“Yeah. Hey man, how come you never see a zombie with a walker, eh?”
The conversation devolved from there, but the picture stayed with me. Old people seen through the eyes of the young. Taking up the good spaces and the good jobs, hanging on long past their prime, shuffling through this world long after they should have shuffled off their mortal coil. Hell some of them even look dead.
And then I thought of reversing the image and seeing the young through the eyes of the older generation. Shuffling along the streets in undone oversized shoes, pants crotches hanging below their knees, faces devoid of expression, eyes down thumbs twitching over their little god-boxes, earphones in place, completely unconnected to the world directly around them. No respect, no interaction no life as we know it. Hell some of them even look dead.
Not all of the old ones or all of the young ones and not all of the time.
But in the movies not everyone is a zombie either.