Monday, October 24, 2016

Thoughts on The Walking Dead (NO SPOILERS)

Season Seven opener was brutal -- some say "violence porn" -- others have said "enough!" and stopped watching it.

I was out in Arizona, without access to cable to watch AMC, and my wife didn't want to wait for my return...  So in this curious age of innovation, we up her iPad to film the TV screen while I watching it streaming live on my iPhone.  Necessity is, indeed, the mother of invention.

A few thoughts occur to me about this program:

1) I understand and respect if you stop watching the show because of the graphic violence. It's certainly not a "Christian" show imbued with all sorts of plain virtues you want to pass on to your children. It's more like Flannery O'Connor -- what is life without grace; or showing by absence how we are allowed to acquire virtues and civil organization and culture because of the stability of society and governance, and how we would be forced to live in a state of raw nature if that were suddenly stripped away.

2) The brutality of the violence, and our reaction to it, is due to the sense of "relationship" we have with the characters. We are not so moved when "others" meet their violent ends, even at the hands of our favorite characters. Yet these too have backstories and trajectories and narratives, and a story could be told about any of them, and then we would care about them and their deaths.

3)  The opening season episode complete changed the psychological dynamic of all the main characters, esp the protagonist -- how is that not really relevant character and story line development?

4) The backstory on Negan should be really interesting as well -- how does a man become that person, or was he always so, and how does he justify his acts for the sake of the community? He's a microcosmic US government, or any sovereign, who will crush anyone to keep order by keeping everyone in line for the good of the whole. This is all jarring to us because we as so softened to our democratic sensibilities, but he's basically a Carolingian warlord or a Tudor king, absent the Church to direct and constrain his morality.

No, it's not "Christian" show, but you can't get away from the perennial issues of life, meaning, social order, moral reasoning, or the fallen human condition that the Church and the Gospel so brilliantly answer toward.  As one friend, a completely grounded, intelligent, and orthodox Catholic priest, noted, "I think TWD is the most subversive show on TV that even attracts those it's subverting--urban and suburban soft Lefties who think tax dollars, teddy bears, and niceness seminars will save the world."

Your thoughts?

1 comment:

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