Last week, I noticed that The Walking Dead had been added to Netflix Canada.
“Oh,” I thought, not the least bit excited. “I guess I should watch that.”
I’m usually all over fancy pants cable and premium TV shows. I’’m willing to watch almost anything that HBO, Showtime or AMC puts out, provided that it’s not called Entourage. HBO has seduced me with the wild west, vampires, Dust Bowl circus freak saviors who fight evil preachers, and prison spoon rape. Showtime has convinced me to laugh at cancer, and to care about a serial killer a lot longer than I really should have. I tried to resist AMC’s offerings at first, but I’ve been their bitch since Betty Draper shot the pigeons.
But I was looking forward to watching The Walking Dead the way that I look forward to scrubbing the toilet. I probably wouldn’t enjoy it, but it was a chore that needed to be done.
We’re three episodes into the show now, and I’m not really sure what its purpose is. There are zombies, and a rag tag group of survivors. Guys beat the shit out of zombies (and each other) while women stand in the background and scream. A lot. There’s usually a bad monologue of some sort thrown in. And then there are more copious beatings with womenfolk in the background. There’s no greater purpose so far. The writers know how to provide viewers with zombie gore, but that’s about the extent of their talents. It’s like they’re constantly missing the point.
Imagine if Deadwood had been written by people who thought that the show was solely about Ian McShane saying the f word. That’s about the level that The Walking Dead is working on.
And yet it’s not the quality of the show that’s troubling me. I can watch the hell out of a shitty show like 24, or Lost. What really bothers me about The Walking Dead is, well, the walking dead themselves. I am just so over zombies.
It wasn’t always this way. I must have been cool with zombies at some point. I like The Zombies. I like “Thriller.” I dug that Cranberries song when I was 12, even though I thought she was actually singing “Tommy” for a few months.
I appreciated the Night Of The Living Dead when I was a teenager. I’m still a big fan of the opening scene and often think of Barbara’s jackass brother biting it when I run through cemeteries, content that I would be able to outrun a traditional zombie if it ever came to that. And I admire the crisp and unapologetic nihilism of the ending.
As an old school David Cronenberg devotee, I’m also pretty partial to Shivers. But I don’t even know if his crazed sex zombies count as actual zombies, anyway, because everything that Cronenberg did before the turn of the century was in its own world and so much more awesome than the rest of pop culture.
28 Days Later was cool enough. I laughed at Shaun Of The Dead. I even went to see Juan Of The Dead, a Cuban zombie comedy, at TIFF this year. It had its moments, although watching the young PR interns try to figure out the communism jokes was funnier.
But I just can’t deal with this shit anymore. I am so over zombies, and here are 10 reasons why:
1. They’re ugly.
This is a dumb and superficial reason, I know. It doesn’t even make sense, given that Slobulus is my third favourite MadBall, but I have a visceral reaction to melting flesh that drapes off of a skull. Or at least a skull that is not ball-shaped. In the abstract, I admire what people can do with makeup and prosthetics, but actually looking at those accomplishments makes me want to vomit.
And what is with their posture? Am I really supposed to believe that some sort of magic or scientific experiment gone wrong is capable of reanimating every single part of the body except the erector spinae muscles? That’s absurd.
2. They’re annoying.
Sometimes, when I’m watching a zombie movie, I just want to tell the zombies to shut up. If I wanted to watch two hours of pointless, unintelligible droning, I’d go to a Coldplay concert.
3. They’re eerily reminiscent of past trauma.
If I wanted to be surrounded by a terrifying horde of mindless monsters hellbent of my annihilation, I’d go back to high school.
4. They’re not glamourous in any way.
I’m sick of vampires, too, but at least I get that obsession. Vampires are sexy and dangerous, when they’re not written by Stephenie Meyer. They play on our Freudian fixation with death. Zombies seem to speak to some bizarre survivalist fantasy that I have never experienced in any way.
5. They’re unbearably tired as a counterculture icon
Oh, you’re having a zombie walk? I’m sorry, I can’t make it. I just zombie walked this morning, and I’ve got another one scheduled for tomorrow.
Wake me up when someone organizes a Bene Gesserit walk.
By the way, adding zombies to any work of fiction does not immediately make you a creative genius.
6. Zombie ______ costumes are just the nerdy kid’s answer to Sexy ______ costumes.
At least there’s still a tiniest bit of potential in ironic sexy costumes (like Sexy Oil Spill, or Sexy Steve Jobs) but if you’re dressing up as Zombie Anything, you are an unimaginative ass.
Speaking of which….
7. The zombie mythology is not conducive to a whole lot of creativity.
There’s a zombie outbreak! A rag tag group of people who would otherwise never associate with each other are going to have to learn how to cooperate and survive! And maybe find some sort of promised land! Which leads me to….
8. Zombie stories remind me of Ayn Rand stories.
Let’s go live in the mountains, far away from the horrible leeches who are trying to feed off of us!
9. Survival in a zombie apocalypse isn’t really that appealing.
If I woke up tomorrow to discover that zombies had destroyed everyone and everything I knew and loved, and that my only option for survival was to join a rag tag group of people who would otherwise never associate with each other, like I was joining the worst season of The Real World ever, I would probably be all “So… there’s no Chipotle anymore? Fuck this, I’m going to let the zombies eat me.”
10. Why do we always assume that they have no internal life?
Has anyone ever tried to meet the zombies halfway? Are we really just concluding that they’re brain-dead because they’re nonverbal? Maybe they don’t know that it’s not nice to try to eat us and they just need it to be explained to them in terms they understand. And maybe they’re only fighting back because we’re trying to shoot all of them in the head.
You know who else doesn’t know how to talk and wants to eat me?
And we’ve managed to develop a mutually beneficial relationship, so I don’t understand why we shouldn’t try harder with zombies.
You know, upon further reflection, my real issue might be with people.