Monday, July 4, 2016

Why We Love the Walking Dead - by Kevin Miller

Zombies! They're everywhere, which is precisely the problem with these undead ghouls. Once one of them shows up, more of them are bound to follow, lurching out of the rubble of the ruined landscape or, if you’re really unlucky, running. Mindless, relentless, and insatiable—like a herd of shoppers on Black Friday—no matter how hard you resist, it’s only a matter of time before the zombies take over. And take over they have. 

Zombies began haunting movie theaters in the 1930s, with White Zombie (1932) considered to be the first feature length zombie film. George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (1968) brought them into the nuclear age, adding both the flesh-eating and the post-apocalyptic components, which have been the mainstay of zombie stories ever since. Zombies have gone on to infest comic books, television, video games, Jane Austen novels (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies), and even science. A recent paper out of Cornell University used a zombie outbreak to simulate a real disease epidemic and determine the best place to hole up and wait out the apocalypse (turns out Glacier National Park is a safe bet). 

Of all the zombific manifestations that have proliferated across our imaginations over the past few decades, one reigns supreme: The Walking Dead. What began as a comic book series has become a television ratings sensation. The show is so popular it’s spawned a spin-off, Fear the Walking Dead, which is already breaking ratings records. The question behind all of this is, why? Why has a creature that used to lurk only on double bills at the drive-in landed itself squarely in prime time?