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February 28, 2013
Walking Dead-- Should the 99% Be Saying "Ich Bin Ein Walking Dead"
By Rob Kall
Walking Dead is wowing the 18-49 demographic-- with a message that is dead on. I asked NY Times, multiple Bram Stoker award winning author Jonathan Maberry about the intense interest of young people in post apocalyptic and zombie narratives. To paraphrase JFK's Ich Ein Berliner, perhaps we are all walking dead in a land of the one percent.
Walking Dead, a huge AMC hit, is pulling stronger 18-49 viewer demographics than network TV, as the Wall Street Journal reports,
" among people ages 18 to 49, the demographic most sought after by advertisers, the show has become the top-rated series among either cable or broadcast."
The show, which my two twenty-something sons turned me on to, despite the zombie theme which usually doesn't grab me, is very engaging and entertaining.
Walking Dead is a part of the hugely popular among young adults post-apocalyptic movie genre.
The new season opens with two at-war groups of surviving humans-- 99.9% of the human race is either dead or transformed into walking dead zombies.
One group is led by "the governor," a man who chronically lies to the people in the "safe" enclave he leads. He orders murders and has a crew of men who do his murderous bidding. Worse, he keeps a collection of zombies-- walking dead, who are relatives.
Let me be clear. The TOP TV series for 18 to 49 year olds portrays a political leader as a duplicitous lying murderer. The show portrays a world that has been destroyed by disease.
The series is written by Frank Darabont, who directed Shawshank Redemption and Green Mile, true classics which gives the show even more credibility-- it really is worth watching. You can catch earlier seasons on netflix.
Maybe the young people who are watching this series don't see the connection between the despicable governor and contemporary politics-- you pick which politicians he is like. But maybe they do. Maybe they see a whole lot of the world they're inheriting in shows like Walking Dead,
One New York Times bestselling author who knows about this phenomenon is Jonathan Maberry, who has said that young people are really attracted to these post-apocalyptic scenarios in novels and movies. Maberry writes adult and young adult novels, some of them about zombies. I asked Jonathan, a multiple Bram Stoker award winner to comment on young people's interest in apocalypse and zombies. He replied:
"I find it encouraging that teens are reading stories about the apocalypse --including the zombie apocalypse. Most of the adult stories in those genres tend to be downbeat and nihilistic, but the teen fiction, though edgy and dark, is generally about surviving bad circumstances. In these novels the kids are thrust into a world destruction scenario not of their making and they survive, generally through cooperation, acquisition and implementation of knowledge, personal judgment, fierce determination, and optimism. They survive, in fact, using skills that most adults don't really believe teens possess. This is a direct parallel to the real world. Our generation is handing the next generation a broken world. There are wars, a fractured economy, a damaged biosphere, and threats of all kinds. We adults tend to see doom and gloom because we feel disempowered by the problems we've either helped to create or been unable to fix. The kids, however, have their lives ahead of them, they expect to have a future, and they haven't been defeated or disillusioned. They are living in a dystopic and potentially apocalyptic world, but they believe they will survive and make a better world."
"As far as zombies go...they've always been a metaphor, a terrific vehicle for telling any kind of story. Unlike vampire fiction, where the vampire has become so romanticized and personalized that they've become the story; zombies have no personality, no depth, no minds. As such they represent a massive shared threat that impacts the lives of every character. Once introduced, they are often shunted to the background while the story focuses on the experiences of the human characters, whose lives have been disrupted and who have to redefine themselves in catastrophic situations without the benefit of affect. This is the basis for all real drama. We don't write novels about good people having a nice day. We write about people having a bad day, or a disruptive day, or some kind of day that makes them explore who they really are and how their lives matter. This is why The Walking Dead succeeds so well. The title doesn't refer to the zombies, it refers to the people whose lives have been destroyed and they are shambling around looking for how to re-acquire some kind of new normal life."
To paraphrase JFK's Ich Ein Berliner, perhaps we are all walking dead in a land of the one percent.
Rob Kall is executive editor, publisher and website architect of OpEdNews.com, Host of the Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show (WNJC 1360 AM), and publisher of Storycon.org, President of Futurehealth, Inc, and an inventor . He is also published regularly on the Huffingtonpost.com
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