Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Getting a good chuckle—while feeling annoyed/confused—about The Walking Dead nerdrage
Returning to a bit of familiar turf for me...(ranting ahead)
You gotta laugh—or maybe weep—at hardcore nerds in frothing nerdrage with an over-inflated sense of their own creative abilities. The types who swear with a solemn face that Tolkien should have dropped books 2 and 4 of The Lord of the Rings, tightened up all those boring travel-y bits in book 6, leavened it with a liberal dose of combat carnage, and viola! The Lord of the Rings is 10x better than that crappy book sitting on your shelf.
The latest example comes courtesy of message board discussions of The Walking Dead. I’m not naming the board(s) in question to protect the guilty parties (e-mail me if you want the hard evidence), but really, when you’ve got (according to their avatar pictures) middle-aged men stating in non-ironic fashion that they could out-write the writers of The Walking Dead, no problem and for sure, then you follow their blog link back and find grade-school caliber fiction so bad it makes your eyes water … yeah. Hard to take these critics seriously. But it doesn’t stop them from wanting the rest of us to hear the truth about why this show sucks so bad.
So let’s take stock of the situation.
At this point The Walking Dead is two years in and on its 19th episode. If you’ve watched them all you’ve sunk almost a day of your life into the endeavor. So the nerdragers have now chosen to voluntarily endure 19 hours of bile-inducing torture. Most sane people would ask: Why? The solution is easy: shut the goddamn thing off and stop clogging up message boards with your nerdrage. Try one of the other150 or so cable channels. This is not 1979 where options were limited and everyone was stuck watching Creature Double Feature on Channel 56. We've graduated from VCRs to DVDs to DVRs. You’ve got vast libraries of films in your Netflix account (including literal scores of B-grade zombie flicks) to choose from. Actual libraries of books to read. Comics. Videogames. We’ve got more entertainment at our personal disposal than the sum total of entire previous generations. We’re drowning in entertainment options. And porn. So, please, rather than continuing to bitch about The Walking Dead do me a favor and pull the damned plug.
I’d respect these complaints more if the nerdragers turned the TV off. But I gotta laugh because they’ve watched far more closely than I, a fan, ever has. They remember every little clue like those dead cop zombies that didn’t have bites (how did they zombify?) and speculate incessantly about what that whispered conversation was back in the CDC episode. They rewatch episodes. They stick around for Talking Dead afterwards. Some of them have even taken the extra step of going out and buying up the comics to read ahead but boy howdy! It all sucks! GAPING logic holes LAAZY writing and yet they keep coming back, every week, to the same threads, to voice their displeasure. What gives? Can anyone explain this phenomenon? I don’t get it. When I read Robert Jordan’s The Eye of the World at my college roommate’s suggestion I didn’t like it, decided that one book was enough, and stopped the series. I didn’t plow through the rest of The Wheel of Time, whining all the way. I used to watch Star Trek: The Next Generation and when that ended I decided to give Deep Space Nine a try. I realized I didn’t like the characters so I—wait for it—stopped watching. And found something else to do with my time.
I’ve got my own gripes with The Walking Dead—characters doing dumb things that don’t promote survival, failing parenting 101, and so on--but damn, dude, it’s still worth watching. I tune in every week and enjoy it for what it is: Survival drama with zombies, seasoned with interesting moral dilemmas, examination of the line between brute survival and civilization/humanity, and ruminations about how to cope with our own mortality (our death is coming slowly, inevitably, like the zombies, and it will get us in the end. The question is how we deal with it). It’s good stuff.
If you can explain this self-flagellation phenomenon—subjecting oneself week after week to a show that purportedly demeans my intelligence and is full of suck thought it was Walking Dead not Talking Dead and will they ever get off the damned farm--I’d like to hear it. I’m struggling to find a rational answer. Are zombies just that popular that their fans will watch anything featuring a corpse?