Thanks to one of my favorite sites in the whole entire internet, “Everything’s A Problem” (it mocks one politically correct outrage a day, and it never runs out of material), I came across the tempest over the racism inherent in Fear the Walking Dead. Those who don’t follow zombie fiction may not be familiar with the race “controversy” that has dogged Fear’s parent show, The Walking Dead, but here it is in a nutshell: The show — set in a zombie apocalypse — kills off too many black male characters. The show’s cast is remarkably diverse, but some people actually obsess over the racial makeup of the zombie chow. Zombies are gonna munch, but they have to munch in an activist-approved manner. In the meantime, white Walking Dead characters like Andrea, Beth, Hershel, Lori, Shane, and Sophia were unavailable for comment. Or, when reporters sought them out for comment, they could offer only gutteral grunts, moans, and chewing sounds. It’s an apocalypse, people. The body count is high.
So when Fear premiered, the showrunners could be sure that activists would be watching, flipping between the calculator app to tally the bodies and WordPress to blog their pain. But the showrunners don’t care. It turns out the L.A. version of the zombie apocalypse is just as fatal as the Georgia version, and — yes — three early fatalities are black men, along with various white junkies and homeless adults of indeterminate ethnicity. So now the show is “racist,” and the Hollywood Reporter and Vanity Fair are covering the controversy. But while critics are trying to reverse-affirmative-action the body count (What do we want? More white zombies! When do we want them? Now!) they’re missing the real outrage — #BlackLivesMatter is helping cause the zombie apocalypse.
As the show unfolds, outrage over police shootings is causing crowds to gather exactly where the zombies are, the crowds are refusing to disperse despite the fact that the entirety of human civilization hangs in the balance, and consequently they’re primed to be transformed from a spontaneous public uprising to a cannibalistic zombie herd in a matter of hours. It’s a clever plot device, one that explores how the public would actually react to mind-boggling video footage of an apparently harmless drug addict being shot over and over and over again simply because he was walking towards a police officer. But whether they mean to or not, police reform activists are causing the literal (literal!) end of the world.
Moreover, while the activists chart zombie deaths they’re also missing the inherent conservatism of the entire series — indeed, the entire genre. As I lay out in the latest edition of the print mag, Zombie World is a pretty darn conservative place. The government’s going to fail, you better grab your guns, and don’t even think about trying to build some kind of utopia out of the ruins – because utopias always die in fire and blood. Pajama Boy has to man up and learn to fight with an AK, a Katana, or a crossbow, or Pajama Boy is going to be breakfast. As I say in my article, Zombie World is governed by a code: “Live by conservatism, die by liberalism, and the only way you give up your Smith & Wesson is if someone pries it from your rotting, zombified hand.
So while the social justice warriors are distracted — forming the college admissions committee version of zombie death panels (“no more black zombies until we see five whites!”) — the conservative message of armed self-reliance is streaming into tens of millions of homes. I’ll take that cultural trade any day of the week.