“The Walking Dead” is about so much more than zombies. While often referred to as “that zombie show,” it is actually a great artistic depiction of society.
The show is full of religious motifs and fascinating character development, but it mostly teaches viewers an important lesson about society: perhaps we have more to fear from each other than we do from our environment, the universe or the afterlife.
The main characters of the show began their journey in Season 1 fighting off zombies, otherwise known as walkers. The goal for the group has always been to survive the apocalypse. During the first few seasons, this only meant finding food and slaying the living dead. As the show has advanced, viewers have watched the group attempt to overcome an obstacle much more threatening than walkers—the reality of post-apocalyptic society as a whole.
What is left of American culture in “The Walking Dead” is unfortunate. The population is broken into factions, which are usually at war with one another in the quest for power. Supplies and food are scarce, and of course, the flesh-hungry dead are wandering around trying to eat people.
Although many things are different for the characters in “The Walking Dead” than they are for people living real life today, the aftermath of the apocalypse parallels many aspects of present-day society.
The factions in the series mirror real-life countries: there are trade agreements, invasions and wars over power. The apocalypse didn’t stop humanity from engaging in our never-ending power struggle.
In the show, industrialism has come to a halt. So if people want supplies, they must grow, build, find, steal or trade in order to obtain them. While the details are different from present-day life, economic power still equates to total power.
Groups with guns, ammo and food can easily outnumber and push around other groups. This is no different from how people with money and prestigious connections can dominate others in the current day and age.
Ironically, survivors in the series have a lot more to fear from other living humans than they do from the grotesque walking dead.
If viewers can learn anything from the show, it is: the time we spend wondering about the afterlife, questioning why natural disasters occur and searching for life in the rest of the universe could be better spent working cooperatively with one another.
Citizens of individualistic cultures relish in ideas of “The American Dream,” where each person is challenged to make the best out of their own life. While there is nothing wrong with a goal like this, we ought to incorporate collectivist ideals into these dreams.
If people cared more about fellow human beings, dared to share more and compete less, we would be more prepared if a zombie invasion ever occured. We would be able to focus more on defeating zombies and less on fighting each other.
– Katie Burrell is a mass communications sophomore