The Walking Dead provides us with a different look at our civilization, especially our culture. Stories like these help us to examine what is truly important to us. The story chronicles the travels of a small group of people trying to survive the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse.
The literary subtext of a zombie apocalypse is usually that civilization is inherently fragile in the face of truly unprecedented threats and that most individuals cannot be relied upon to support the greater good if the personal cost becomes too high. Many also feel that zombies allow people to deal with their own anxiety about the end of the world.
The thing about these zombie monsters is that, their origin is unknown, and they are unstoppable. Individuals quickly fall to the sudden threat and the government's are incapable of maintaining any semblance of order. To me the most interesting aspect of this mythology is the evolution of the characters' personalities as they are faced with constant threat to their life. Some of these characters resort to abandoning any semblance of a civilized person, acting only to survive the moment. You can compare these characters' survival to the people that are living in war zones or some dangerous urban areas.
What else do zombies represent? It also represents the spread of ideology. I'm sure that some Conservative Evangelical Christians view Islam as a sort of zombie apocalypse; it is spreading at an ever alarming rate. The Conservative Amerikan Tea Party Movement is also a sort of zombie apocalypse; more and more people are hopping on this selfish bandwagon.
There are some important lessons to be learned from these stories.
- In most zombie stories the characters must cope with loss. This demonstrates the importance of valuing our lives and showing appreciation for the people that we love.
- Groups of survivors endure longer when they work together. Our planet is a global network of communities. Individuals within communities need to work together for their own community and communities need to collaborate to benefit their global community. Allowing ourselves to become divided does not further humanity's survival.
- We must prepare ourselves as a civilization to continue on. Relying on unsustainable food, energy, and water resources is silly. We can't continue to consume everything like a virus. We need to wake up and work towards indefinite sustainability.