I just finished watching Season 2 of The Walking Dead, and the show is so interesting that I--unapologetic cable-cutter that I am--am actually going to buy the full Season 3 from Amazon so that I can (gasp!) watch it as it airs, something I haven't done for a long, long time (I'm a year behind in Mad Men and Bones, multiple years behind in Dexter, and finishing up the previous season of Parks and Rec just now). It's not that I don't think that television shows are worthwhile; I think they can be great pieces of entertainment and social commentary. I'm just so steeped in things to do, watch, and read, that it's usually no big deal for me to be culturally behind the times.
But The Walking Dead has sucked me in. I really, really like the questions that it raises about society and culture. It hits on all of the things that I frequently write and think about: the role of education and community, the changing nature of our own identities, and how much individualism matters to survival.
If you haven't seen it, Seasons 1 and 2 are available on Netflix Instant Watch and Amazon Prime. And you should consider catching up quickly because Season 3 premieres next Sunday.
Leading up to the premier of the new season, I'm going to be posting a series of blog posts this week that examines the way that post-apocalyptic landscapes in pop culture naturalize a certain view of humanity.
I already started toying with these ideas when I wrote "Sex and Laundry: The Role of Women in Post-Apocalyptic Landscapes," a blog post in which I examine the way that women are portrayed in The Walking Dead Season 1 and the film The Book of Eli.
I'd like to broaden that consideration in some ways and re-examine the question of equality after an apocalypse from a different angle. To that end, watch for three upcoming posts this week:
1) What's the Role of Intellectuals During the End of the World?- I'm interested in what our popular culture tells us about valuing intellectuals in times of extreme crisis. There are certainly different types of people that are continuously highlighted in end-of-days scenarios, and the intellectual heavy weights aren't always showcased very positively. What does that mean about society's value of scholarship and artistic pursuits? (Update: Here's the link!)
2) What's the Role of Art in the Apocalypse?- Connected to the first question, I'm curious to see how art (both high-brow and low-brow) plays a role in combating the end of the world. How do fictional characters facing the end of the world view books, television, music and paintings? How important are these things in their considerations? (Update: Here's the link!)
3) Is Feminism a Luxury?- Both of those above questions lead me to wonder about feminism. If feminism is seen as primarily an intellectual pursuit, what happens to it in times of crisis? Is it set aside as a lesser concern? Is equality less important than survival? If so, is this true of other equality movements, or is there something unique to feminism that makes it more vulnerable to this line of prioritizing? (Update: Here's the link!)
I'll be writing about these over the next week, but I'd love to hear your initial thoughts on these and how they're addressed in pop culture. Happy survival!