My allergies have been really bad the last few days, on top of other things, so I haven’t been as productive as usual. Also, to create anything, be it a blog or a song, you need to take in a large amount of material. Other than listening to records, which I never stop doing, about the most I have been able to concentrate on is watching The Walking Dead. I am finally caught up with the newest episode.
Zombies have typically been used as metaphors for different political situations. George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, which takes place in a mall, has been seen as commenting on consumer culture. I feel like because of the complexity of the storytelling, and the density of the imagery, the politics of The Walking Dead are complicated, and it can’t be simplified down to a left or right thing. There are different scenes and story lines and images that feel like part of red and blue America.
One of the things I really like about it is the fact that the cast is racially diverse in a way that most mainstream entertainment is not. I also feel that, for the most part, the characters are sufficiently complicated and are represented as human beings. While the characters, such as Tyreese and Glen, are not stripped of racial characteristics, they are never defined by them either.
All art is political at some level. Sometimes you just have to read between the lines. Even pieces of work that are expressly non-political are political. Things that are just escapism, which can perform the altruistic function of allowing you to disconnect from the stress of daily life, is essentially saying that everything is OK. In not challenging the dominant narrative of society you are you are making a political statement by abstaining from the discourse. Again, I do believe that escapist entertainment can have an altruistic purpose, but one shouldn’t say that it is non-political.
However, in the realm of escapism I think there are different levels of worth. Some escapism champions materialistic values. Something like American Idol is not only not asking you to not think about the real world, it is also full of the kind of shallow materialistic values that are a burden on our society. A great deal of mainstream country and mainstream rap, whether singing about trucks or bling, communicate the message, that is hidden under the guise of fun, that you are what you own.
I do think that The Walking Dead, while being entertainment largely, manages to ask questions about human nature. How far can people go and still retain their humanity? Even though the killings in Episode 3 of Season 5 seemed to be justified, they were filmed in such a way that was meant to make the viewer feel uneasy. In Season 4, especially, you see the damage that a society structured on violence starts to psychologically damage the children that grow up in it. The show is still asking you to think even while it creates a narrative entertaining enough that it whisks you out of real life at the same time. It is an interesting balancing act.
Today I have also been doing some reading on the current political races in Texas. If you want to see the definition of despicable, google Dan Patrick, who is running for lieutenant governor in Texas. He is a former radio shock-jock that has now gone into politics. If you are not from Texas, and want to learn about who this man is you can read the following article:
If you are in Texas, then I hope very much you will do whatever you can in your power to make sure this man loses the election. Even Rick Perry looks respectable next to this moron, and that is saying something.