The Walking Bread

I picked up and watched The Walking Dead this week. I enjoyed it, but something seemed off. Zombies in this show, like in all shows, degenerate into being a narrative device. They don’t feel like they’re part of the world, they feel like author-insertions that exist purely to add drama to an otherwise banal dialogue. There are times when zombies are legitimate set-pieces, even characters, that exist as part of the world instead of being additions to it. Sure, they’re xenotypic insertions in the first place, but the world that evolves from them should feel like they were part of the forces that shaped it, and that they play by a set of rules. Zombies with rocks, that can use doors, and climb, are not zombies. Okay, let’s say they are, but why only specific ones at dramatic moments? The Walking Dead’s use of zombies is abusive, even blatant. They’re the hand of the authors as they reach in to pluck out a character to see how the other walking-bodies react to it. They add to the piece, but only as much as a group of bandits or aliens might. Authors like zombies because it’s one of the apocalypse scenarios that people are okay with. They’ll accept it and it opens up all sorts of doors for exploring humanity in a desperate, degenerating situation. That doesn’t mean that you can forget them and use that as a sort of back-drop piece. Well used creatures flow seamlessly into the background and create drama simply by doing what they do. Zombies are doddering, mostly-dead reflections of ourselves, like our aged relatives, so they should be used as such. Human drama is great, but a good writer should be able to find it without twisting the fabric of the world just so that it fits into the idea they had.


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