I’ve enjoyed watching the first and second season of ‘Walking Dead’, a TV series describing the lives and struggles of people who have survived a Zombie apocalypse.

The atmosphere itself is quite well done, and the actors deliver quite a convincing performance.

I’ve  built a tolerance level for both horror movies and real paranormal phenomena, but this TV series is so creepy, the feeling of not being safe, any time, kind of rubs off.

Every culture has storytelling as a central part of transmitting knowledge, often through symbols and metaphors. I started wondering why the culture we live in focuses on this storytelling with increasing intensity.

Historically our ancestors gathered around the fire, exchanging stories. As culture grew into modern society, the proverbial stage has given way to modern media, such as television and internet videos. Even the TV series can be downloaded via the internet.

Except for the quantum leap in technology, the cultural storytelling serves the same purpose, to communicate throughout a culture the sublime reality, hopes and dreams but also it’s darkest fears.

There are always social reasons for cultural expression through the arts where the expression of truth could not come in any other way.

Now for my interpretation.

In the series a group of people struggle together as a group, outnumbered by the constant threat of an overwhelming amount of Zombies. The rules of engagement are clear to begin with, the Zombies only have to scratch or bite a human, and they will become infected, thus becoming a Zombie too, and it spreads. Humans can kill a zombie only by damaging the head. Resources are scarce, and humans have to loot parked cars or abandoned buildings in order to get food, fuel, medicine and supplies.

Longer into the series interaction and conflict among different groups of humans also create new dilemmas and results in power shifts and internal struggles.

All of this group-behaviour is similar to developed countries, who realise they are running out of resources fast, and for various moral and social (or religious) reasons act according to some internal rules, but at the end of the day all cultures are obsessed with survival.

The Zombies represent no particular group, but perhaps the suffering people in the world, especially third world countries, but also all the people in wealthy countries who have no power politically and thus are not to be considered with, and/or who are in distress, such as the people affected by natural disaster.

Notice as in season 2, the question of the zombie’s inherent nonhumanity vs humanity is questioned, as the idea of seeing zombies as sick people and not monster emerges.

This realization ultimately also have to give way for survival. As the hero has to shoot one of the group’s 11 year old daughter in the head, because she had turned into a Zombie, everyone in the group including the shooter was crying.

Even the meeting with another group, fully recognizing the other groups humanity, must give way to survival, but in that case, only in two conditions:

1) Where the group doesn’t know eachother (unfamiliarity creates alienation)

2) Where no common interest or mutual benefit is found (no profit)

In one example one group is allowed to stay with another (the hero’s group is allowed to stay on the property of a farm which is also a safe haven, but only for a limited time, while one of the group’s child is mortally wounded due to accidental gunshot).

There is no doubt we are heading for times with less resources

We have already been there for many years, except in the industrialized world, it has been less noticeable.

Ask yourself, how many people go hungry every day. 30% ? 70 %? 90% ?

If you find the real percentage, you may no longer be surprised that this reality, is slowly creeping up on the rich 10% of the world, who have been so priviledged, most children in the western world think meat naturally replicates out of a supermarket freezer in unlimited supply.

and less safety

You will see the slowly creeping reality that as the population increase toward 10 billion, and economic collapse and the end of oil and the increases in weather change and natural disaster, people in the west are slowly beginning to tackle the feeling of being unsafe, and it’s a bitter collective memory from a  not so distant past, no more distant than WW2.

and the elite

the elite will be the ‘heroes’ forming groups, and the 99.999 % rest will be treated as Zombies. Killed off, pitied when it can be afforded, rounded up and destroyed to serve the survival of the elite.

and moral

no Zombie or Human will be human, while at the same time, both in a sense are, as Humans lost their humanity because of the fight against the Zombies and the fight for survival, and Zombies lost their humanity because of disease.

The disease could be a symbol for an actual disease, or condition such as poverty, war, famine, disaster, etc.

The necessary loss of humanity could be a symbol for the remedy for the cause, i.e. humanity causes the disease, war, famine, etc and being cruel and taking cruel decisions for survival is ‘right’ although arguably sometimes also ‘wrong’.

Conclution:

Post-apocalyptic Zombie movies will challenge the idea of what it means to be human and what it takes to survive when resources are scarce.