Monday, April 11, 2016

The Walking Dead: An Obituary

Who or what is “Negan”?

I answered that question in two columns about the zombie “epic” of The Walking Dead.  Now, with the much anticipated finale of Season Six of the series having come and gone, along with the much expected debut of Negan, purported super villain of the series, it’s time for me to pack my bags and leave the Walking Dead building.

Negan was welcomed by uncounted fans of the series. He was true to the malevolent comic book series written by Robert Kirkman.

This is absolutely the last time I discuss the character or the TV series here.

Negan is a vile, evil character who debuted in April at the end of Season Six of The Walking Dead. Negan is a brutal tyrant who lords over an enclave of plague survivors and likes to smash victims’ heads with a baseball bat sheathed in barbed wire. He has a policy of extortion that requires other, productive enclaves to give him half of what they have in exchange for his not raiding, raping, enslaving, and killing their inhabitants and trashing their communities.

Or perhaps he’ll raid and pillage a productive enclave just for the hell of it.

I will say at the beginning here that the whole “Dead” series is grotesque. I watched it for lack of anything else to watch on TV, just as I have watched Dexter and a few other series about people obsessed with the dead. The Walking Dead had some interesting conflicts. How should one conduct oneself when society has collapsed into anarchy and about ninety percent of the population has succumbed to some zombie-causing plague? What few redeeming elements in it have been diminished if not altogether abandoned. Two of the principal heroes, Carol Peletier and Daryl Dixon, played respectively by Melissa McBride and Norman Reedus, have been sidelined in favor of introducing not only Negan, but his nihilism.

I commented on an April 4th Forbes Magazine article on the series, “”The Walking Dead’ Finale Ruined Negan’s Debut With Its Worst Cliffhanger to Date":

For me, the appeal of the show is not "surviving," but that in today's deteriorating culture, it is one of the few that depicts men and women fighting for their values.  The show has been inconsistent in that respect, but the main characters for me have been Daryl and Carol (I call her my pin-up girl). We've seen Daryl grow from a loud mouthed redneck prone to anger and fighting, to a quietly determined individual who can be sensitive and caring at the right moments, but not in any maudlin, saccharine sense. Carol grew from a mousy homebody and dependent on others, to aggressively self-assertive and independent of mind and values. Love her character.

But the introduction of Negan, regardless of the folly of the cliffhanger, was so overwhelmingly nihilist that I think that will be the tone of Season Seven. I don't need that. There's not a dime's worth of difference between Negan and any ISIS beheaders or any other Islamist killer (remember how concert goers in Paris were tortured before they were killed, their bleeding bodies dragged around the concert floor). I can get real- life Negans in this real world. I don't need to see it in fiction and the main killer being the focus of the series, practically celebrated by TWD fans. I doubt I will watch much or anything of Season Seven. The show is over for me.

Nihilism won. The living zombies won. The animated “dead souls” won. The bloodthirsty Negan fans will get their pounds of flesh. The clueless directors and writers will make tons of money by officiating over the death of a series. Much like Muslims officiate over the slaughter of an animal by slitting its throat and letting it bleed to death. It’s the halal way. It’s the Scott Gimple way. Don’t outright kill it. Let it die in agony, to please the bizarre tastes of fans and others.

And now Carol is shown questioning the moral code that has allowed her to survive and flourish. Rick Grimes, leader of the group of which Carol has been a member from the beginning, said recently about Carol: “I’m proud of her….She’s a force of nature.”

She is tired of having to kill to protect her values and those who are close to her. So she is distancing herself from her values and her friends in order not to kill.

What Paul Tassi, author of the Forbes article,  and legions of The Walking Dead fans are exercised about is that the finale was a cliffhanger, and not the resolution they were hoping for, which was seeing which character would have his brains splattered by a baseball bat sheathed in barbed wire.

One must ask oneself: What are their priorities? Seeing heroes win battles over creeping demons or seeing heroes get turned into human Jell-O? As they are in the last scenes of the finale.

My anonymous correspondent wrote:

Negan and the Savior gang have pretty much given me the terminal creeps as well. That such nihilism and malevolence are being portrayed as "cool" and are somehow supposed to mirror Rick and our Alexandria group is very ominous. If the people behind the series seemed competent of mounting a individualistic rebuttal of that there might still be something to hope for, but I don't really see any signs of it. I'll keep my ear to the spoiler sites ground for the summer and see if there are any hopeful signs, but as of now it does not look good….

They're upset about the "cliffhanger"? We're introduced to a monster like Negan who beats in the skull of one of the series' heroes, and the fans are miffed about the damn cliffhanger? The whole series is standing at the edge of destroying everything that made it worth watching, and they're running on about the cliffhanger...?

And I'm sure that, if asked, the directors and writers of TWD would jump all over each other to be the first to protest the "Islamophobia" of Negan and the Saviors being equated with ISIS….

About the heroes of The Walking Dead, my anonymous correspondent said:

They were our surrogate fighters against the Islamic zombies, and now they are being treated like the Muslim Brotherhood is writing the story lines. I wish they could come back from this, but it doesn't look good….

Well, guess who is styling himself as the head of "The New World Order". (I can just imagine this monster as a fellow traveler of resurgent Islam or the equivalent.) And yes it is very disturbing that so many fans "love" Negan because he is teeth-grindingly obnoxious. Also, Kirkman who created the comic series was on Talking Dead and it is obvious they are trying to draw a moral equivalency between the Saviors and Rick's group, ignoring the fact that the former are aggressors, extortionists, enslavers, sadists, and murderers for gain. So that approach may be too revolting to take through the next season. 

And that is all I have left to say about The Walking Dead. I cannot bear to write another obituary.

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