Episode 2 of AMC’s new series The Walking Dead provoked the expected eye-roll. I mean, c’mon: can’t we enjoy a zombie movie without being treated to the spectacle of a white southern racist hurling the N word? In all the years I lived in the South, and as many times as I heard the N word, I never once witnessed a white person use it to address a black person. Not. Once. And yet, I’m supposed to believe that among the six human survivors in Atlanta, one of them will use it against another in the middle of a zombie siege!!!
But that said, let me try to extract a worthwhile question out of this. Come the zombie apocalypse, which social model will prevail: a multi-cultural one? Or a tribal one?
Deputy Rick, the series’ protagonist, opted for the first: “There are only two races now,” he tells Merle-the-Racist, “the living and dead.” Cornball as it sounds, I suspect something like this is probably true. I understand that it is a commonplace among social historians that larger social groups (e.g. nations) are often forged in the fire of total war, and I’m pretty sure facing millions of the undead trying to eat our brains would motivate us to take our alliances where we can find them. The result, I would guess, would not be multiculturalism, but rather a new culture alloyed from the remnants of the old ones.
But maybe not. Perhaps the future would belong, not to our diverse band of survivors, but to ethnic mafias newly empowered by the collapse of the administrative state. I’m thinking of something like MS-13 battling for territory and resources against, say, SAMCRO, and the zombies serving mainly as a nuisance that both sides must contain but otherwise ignore.
Does anybody have a strong opinion about this?