Every time I mention The Walking Dead, I am hit with two or three people who try and rebuke me for watching a show that, in their words, “glorifies death and evil.” If you don’t believe me, just read the comments of this blog post. Those guys will be proving their inability to understand narrative and story structure by adding their own meta. I’m certain of it.
The dictionary definition of glorify is the following:
Glorify: to describe or represent as admirable, especially unjustifiably or undeservedly.
So the question is: does The Walking Dead represent death as admirable?
In order to accurately investigate this let us first come together and discuss the plot of the show.
Andrew Lincoln plays Rick Grimes. An ex-sheriff who wakes up from a coma to discover that he now lives in a world where a
zombie, I mean walker,” outbreak has taken over the country. Walkers are dead human carcasses animated by a contagious virus/bacteria that reanimates the brain allowing the corpse to walk. As Christians, this is an important detail mainly because this sort of parasite actually exists in God’s creation. Though it poses no threat to humans only ants. You can read more about that here.
It’s important to note that because the walkers no longer have souls, they are not image bearers, and are at their core still dead. Rotting flesh and bones. Within the walker universe, death is still final. The people who once lived are either in Heaven or Hell. The walkers are simply dead bodies being controlled by a virus. Even when a cast member dies, their death signifies the end of their character. No one expects them to come back to life.
I say that because its important. Nothing about the walkers’ existence undermines a Biblical worldview of life and death. Once you are dead, you’re dead. You are not–unlike some zombie stories, actually living.
The difference is that within the walker universe, death is magnified for us. We as Christians know that death is evil, we know that death is an enemy. What The Walking Dead does is magnify that in such a way that it makes death frightening again.
Death is very much a part of our culture such that–in some ways–we can be numb to the evil of it. We expect death. It happens. It’s just a way of life. Sure we have scientist looking for ways to stop cancer, or slow down aging…but we hardly ever hear reports of scientists trying to find a cure for death all together.
The Walking Dead shows us how death is evil. It portrays death as contagious, a virus, just around the corner, waiting to attack at any moment. It vividly portrays a death that is hungry for more death. It shows death not as something that happens, but as an enemy that has destroyed society from every foundation. It’s an exhausting, ever present enemy that is literally lurking around every corner.
So how is death in The Walking Dead, different from death in real life?
The truth is, it’s not and that is the brilliant satire of the show.
In real life death is an enemy that is just around the corner. It can happen at any moment. Maybe not by having a walking corpse jump out from a bush and start chewing your leg off, but we still live in a world of automobile accidents, plane crashes, senseless murders, heart attacks and sudden cancer diagnoses.
But the beauty of The Walking Dead is that it places such a microscope on death that it causes the people in that world to never escape the present reality. It provides a backdrop where there is no rest, no funerals, no time to mourn, no hospitals and limited medication. It’s a world where death has destroyed hope. Where death has conquered society as we know it.
So how is that that a show that so demonstrates the wickedness and ever present evil of the great enemy can glorify death?
It doesn’t and it’s an absurd claim to say it does.
The enemy in The Walking Dead are not walkers, the enemy is death. Flesh eating zombies are merely the instrument used to emphasize that. No more is death glorified in The Walking Dead than cancer is glorified in The Fault in our Stars. The Walking Dead in no way brings glory to death. The show doesn’t honor blood and gore, or there would be no reason for everyone to be fighting against it.
Just because a film, or movie has fake violence doesn’t mean that it endorses real violence. The Bible is littered with death, violence, blood, murder, and war. Yet at no time does the Bible consider these things good. They are however critical elements to tell the narrative of the redemption of man. No Christian would demand that the bloody elements of the Bible be removed.
But as evil and wicked as death is within the episodes of The Walking Dead, death is not the main enemy. The biggest fear in the Walking Dead is humanity.
Sure, The Walking Dead is littered with hundreds of walkers who show up out of nowhere, almost as if AMC has a quota to fill, but anyone who has watched the show will know that the real threat are power hungry humans who enslave, murder, steal and take control of other humans.
Thus, just like Scripture, man is the true cause of evil and man’s wickedness is far more fearful of an enemy than death will ever be. In fact, death is a just punishment for man’s rebellion. Death serves as a way to keep humanity from destroying itself.
Will the cast of The Walking Dead ever find a cure for the disease…certainly. But the greater question is will they ever find a cure for themselves?
I dragon city generator no survey doubt it.