Sometimes, if you want your research to go ahead, don’t go deep, go shallow instead. Take your knowledge as a weapon and go to the shore of the popular culture and the semiotics that are hidden in them. In a nutshell, what is in the tabloids, cinema, and Tv hides what is concerning the world. And since nothing updates faster than people’s fantasies of the future, which as we can statistically see, are bleak and rather pessimistic fantasies we, as species retreat to one of our odder comforts: sharing our nightmares. Nightmares revolving around seismic questions about the way we live and how this is going to evolve. We have become from utopianists, believing in progress to H.P Lovecraft’s best friends.
And thus nobody accepts being patronized on how our cultural behavior influences the future we prefer to share these nightmares in a more imaginative way rather a lecturing, documentary way.
In recent years we are traversing from Black mirror’s modern life concerns, Twitter and reality TV (I will analyze it later) to Philip K Dicks-amphetamine fueled-fascination of the fragile nature of what is real and the construction of personal identity. There is one particular show that not only depicts postmodern concerns, it questions the human morals and ethics and evolves with the times testing the audience on how much can it take. “The walking dead” is constantly challenging what is leisure, questioning politics, psychology and the relationship with death.
While other Zombie apocalypse films linked the zombie allegory with the consumers of the capitalism (Dawn of the dead), immigration (World war Z), fear of corporate conglomerates (Resident Evil) and other societal fears, the show provides food for thought of its plausible functional equivalents. It uses zombies as an, insect-like background, while asking existential questions: What constitutes life, living and being human.
Starting from 2010, as a zombie apocalypse film depicting realistically (as real as it can be) zombies, it matured along with the need of times, increasing it’s and turning into a human versus human survival flick. In 2018 it can proudly present bureaucratic human slaughterhouses and raw cannibalistic behaviors to an artistically inclined survivor putting her dead friends – rather creatively- in a garbage compactor that rips them apart and turns them into minced meat.
Projecting the tolerance and emotional decay, turns its audience into zombies internalizing the decomposition blurring the lines between humans/zombies, humans/animals, civilization and barbarianism, pressing philosophical questions in a very practical way. After all, with so many offering astoundingly immersive experiences in a troubling world, the parallels are unignorable.
Eirini Pouliasi / Irene Pouliasi