Tuesday, 9 November 2010

The Walking Dead 102: Guts

A friend of mine popped by Sunday night but I didn’t hear him knock. As I went into the kitchen for a drink of water I saw him walking off through the window so I gave him a shout.

I don’t believe in coincidence. I’m Pentecostal Christian (lapsed). I believe in divine providence. The secularists, like the Chinese, believe in chance; existence as coincidence. In fiction everything happens – is written – by design.

There is neither chance nor coincidence.
The pre credit scene is tense excitement – until the reveal. The series-makers drop their first blatant con: it’s a bait and switch and doesn’t add anything already established in 101. If the program format demands a four minute precursor the writers had best optimise the time not waste it. Alas this is television – the worst form of storytelling.

The creativity dips from there.

Lennie James guest starred the premiere. Michael Rooker guest stars this sophomore. In his first scene he utters the n-word in demonic glee for its intended audience. Rooker next bestows a beating to (black male) IronE Singleton. It is one sided and sustained. He then spits on him.

This scene sets the tone for episode 102 and brands the whole series. One upon a time someone recommended I watch The Shield. There was a similar scene in that except the white (cop) coup de grâce was to urinate on a black (civilian). The Shield was a “critically acclaimed” hit and ran for seven seasons. The Walking Dead 102: Guts serves as an assurance and reminder during these Obama years – the black man will learn his place or it will be beaten into him.

RIP Oscar Grant1.
We are the walking dead.

To Kill a Mockingbird
The theme is filmed and the writers scramble to deceive. They want to present themselves as good guys – like Nazis solving the Jewish problem. They present this episode as anti-racist so their target audience can couch potato back in the audio nectar of the repetitive use of the n-word. There is faux balance. Rooker calls a white woman “sugar tits”2. Once. He calls the latino a “taco bender”. Once.

(Balance would be to call the white woman the c-word. However why should the producers upset white females and be made to apologise when they can insult black people scot free?)

Lead character Rick Grimes fist flies in because the black character T-Dog can’t defend himself. Grimes chastises Rooker by calling him “white trash”. Once. Jeryl Prescott plays the token black female. Later she tells Grimes “next time let the cracker beat his (T-Dog) ass”.

For every white supremacist there’s a white hero on a white horse riding in to save the day because these poor coloured folk don’t have the ability or acuity to save themselves. Even so there are those who would rather not be saved. It is the white man’s burden.

Home Cinema
The bigger the television the better for the 21st century living room be it projection, plasma, liquid crystal or a 20th century tube. Production companies will have to bar raise their dramas to meet the new technology. The Walking Dead attempts to do this – and succeeds – in scope.

The set pieces are cinematic to a fault. The extended escape scenes lift from Dawn of the Dead 1978 and its 2004 remake. Regardless the sequence delivers what cinema does on its best day; exhilaration and payoff. However unlike best cinema this show is afraid to pull the trigger.

Having been beaten to a pulp and humiliated by the Michael Rooker character T-Dog now tries to save him (like a good eunuch). He fails to do so via the dramatic ploy of accident. He apologises for his bumbling inadequacy and leaves Rooker to his fate: death by zombie (or helicopter rescue).

In fiction there is neither coincidence nor accident.

The only growth in this episode is the introduction of Glen. He’s the best character to date. He’s played by Steven Yeun and brings much needed brevity in the form of incidental humour along with the daredevil of youth. He’s also the only non-white spared racist epithets. It’s not surprising. The Chinese rule the world and the Americans know this.

Ultraviolet3 is a British made television series from 1998. It starred Jack Davenport whose breakthrough was alongside Andrew Lincoln (Rick Grimes) in This Life. Ultraviolet is a masterpiece of television horror. The Walking Dead is self aware, self important and portentous. It is mutton dressed as lamb and racist propaganda.

Of course it’s going to be a hit.

Sometime I felt like we were being forced to carry out slavery in a tuxedo.
Demond Wilson4
(Sanford and Son)
Read more Thrill Fiction: La Horde
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