|Photo From The Walker Stalkers|
Somewhere along the line our greatest fantasy became survival. I see it in our pop culture, namely The Walking Dead. Our new desire is the right to live and shoot guns at an onslaught of people who are inhuman and Other. We can execute our adversaries with little guilt or greater remorse.
Goodbye frustrating boss take this pick-axe to the head.
Hey taxman, taste my buckshot.
Hello foreigner, whose ethnicity and Otherness makes me uncomfortable, feel the thunderous wallop of my baseball bat and boots.
With this apocalypse comes an end to debt, promotions, and going to work. Now each task we complete is directly related to meaning. Wash the clothes, fish, and go on patrol. Each task serves a purpose. No e-mails to answer or texts to send. In the zombie apocalypse you have: A FAMILY, A COMMUNITY, and A MISSION. These things clearly define you. Life is hell, but hell in a way that differs from the beige hell you live in now. The old hell dissipates and is replaced with a hell that can be confronted. We can finally live and triumph now that everyone else is dead.
These desires we exercise in The Walking Dead are nothing new. The ancient Israelites, in their times of greatest distress and suffering, would write apocalypse narratives. Many scholars see these stories in those times as breaths of relief. Those stories (the book of Daniel for example) are artifacts of an ancient culture in great pain that is crying for deliverance. In drafting such a vision the present became more bearable for the ancient Jews and – spoiler alert –may have had a hand in how many Jews still exist today.
Today, in our life of little control, we fantasize and are captivated by the living dead, those grotesque and visceral representations of population anxiety, daily drudgery, and economic strife. It even further demonstrates our amygdala’s (the part of your brain that recognizes threats and outsiders) response to the vibrant mosaic of cultures foreign.
Maybe, like other civilizations of the past, our fascination with apocalypse (literally “disclosing of knowledge”) is our own sojourn toward peace. In confronting our greatest fears in entertaining dramas, reflecting on the crushing world we inhabit, and in gaining temporary relief in the vision of a possible end, maybe we’ll make it to the next millennium.