Communicator (communicator) wrote,
Communicator
communicator

The Walking Dead

When I was writing about The Road, and Cormac McCarthy in general, I said that I thought his despairing vision was linked to an ancient conceptual system. Perhaps it might have originated in the Bronze Age, but who knows. It represents life and spirit as male characteristics, and the female is matter: attractive, sinful, weak and dangerous. The transmission of light is from father to son, with the mother as the vulnerable material link in the chain of spirit.

It's a vision which is conservative, puritan, misogynist, and associated with the modern monotheistic religions. I think it is more pervasive in America than in Europe (that's my impression anyway). It expresses itself (usually) through control of women and flesh and sexuality, together with fear of them.

My argument was that the universal death of The Road was bound up with McCarthy's patriarchal vision. That is, the vision itself is nihilistic. A thoughtful artistic man who embraces this philosophy is plunged into a world of horror and apocalypse, whether McCarthy, Milton or John of Patmos. I'm not rejecting works that express this vision - I love Paradise Lost - I'm just saying, they represent one way of looking at the world, which is bound up with horror of the flesh.

I had to watch The Walking Dead because it is AMC's new flagship show. In case you didn't know, it is about a zombie outbreak. Andrew Lincoln wakes up in a hospital like Cillian Murphy in 28 days later, and discovers that everyone is dead, and some are shambling about biting people. I started to watch it last night, while H was out, and I had to stop because it was too frightening. I finished it just now. It's very well made and I will be watching the whole season.

The reason I go on about the 'nihilistic patriarchal vision' of the father-son bond and the deadly female flesh is that the first episode seems to embody (ha) the vision quite strongly. It's just possible that this is a big subversive set-up, and the whole thing is going to veer off in another direction in episode 2. I don't think so though.

ETA Anyway, I hope this review is clear. I think this looks to be a very well-made series, with high values, good acting, and confident tone. It's good to see a strong new SF/horror series which takes its premise seriously and has relatively well developed emotions and characterisation. I just think the vision is a particular one, expressed quite strongly. I suppose an interesting question is whether zombie films and shows must portray life in this rigid male-only anti-flesh way. I don't think they necessarily have to.
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