Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Zombies & the Turner Thesis

Hello all,


This post is going to divert from the usual ATZ game…though it’s been on hiatus while my Victorious Kickstarter was plugging along. This is more about the idea of zombie apocalypses (ZA) and their fascination to Americans.


What first got me interested in this idea was a comment made on the “Watching Dead” Podcast (baldmove.com) where the hosts compared the shooting and camerawork of the series The Walking Dead (TWD) to a western cowboy-style show. This connected with me, and I wondered why that was. After all, other than gunplay it didn’t seem to have much similarity on the surface.


Then (as I’m a historian) I thought of the 1893 Turner Thesis. In essence this lamented the fact that by 1893 the “Frontier” of the United States no longer existed. Turner was concerned at this because he believed that American culture was shaped by the idea of a frontier. A place where people who failed or had trouble in one place could simply go to the frontier and ‘remake’ themselves and their lives. This created the American ideal of self-made (wo)men and hard work leads to success. In short, overcoming obstacles was a character building exercise.


Then it occurred to me, isn’t that exactly what a post-ZA world is? A frontier of danger and opportunities all around you? Civilization is limited to small communities constantly under threat by outlaw humans and ‘natives’ (ie zombies)? A place where people can remake themselves for good or ill? Thinking about each of the main characters in TWD (TV)…each one of them has changed and grown as people. A few went bad to be sure, but they either died because of their bad choices (Shane) or recovered a sense of humanity to become overall better people (Rick, Daryl,…arguably Carol).


Anyway, it seems fascinating to consider. Please feel free to post opinions!


Zombie Chow