‘Walking Dead’ Fans a Cult Obsessed With Death

Walking Dead

The mid-season premiere of AMC’s The Walking Dead aired last night, and is bound to have made zombies the leading Halloween costume of 2014. Approximately 16.1 million people tuned into the hit TV series but the widespread obsession with zombies is not limited to youth. The great bulk of The Walking Dead‘s audience is adults; about 10.4 million viewers of last night’s premiere were between the ages of 18 and 49. To put that into perspective, more adults tuned into The Walking Dead than adults who tuned into this year’s abysmal Super Bowl. One cannot help but wonder why so many people are obsessed with zombies. Is the widespread obsession of The Walking Dead fans a cult obsessed with death?

The power of the zombie epidemic is not limited to fans of The Walking Dead. This author does not claim to be immune to the zombie virus. Zombie fans outnumber those infected by this year’s H1N1 virus. Indeed, universities across the country are putting our hard-earned tax dollars to work by offering courses in “zombie culture.” But this only touches the tip of the iceberg. Many states offer zombie 5k marathons each year. Let us not forget the lifeless grips of Hollywood that has churned out a plethora of zombie films within the past 10 years. The abundance of zombie films makes them a unique, subclass of horror within their own right. And don’t forget about zombie paraphernalia including clothing, posters and apps.

Zombie fans are the equivalent of a cult that gathers every week to blankly stare at a TV screen with open mouths and drool about the impeding zombie apocalypse. Afterwards, zombie fans flock to their savior, the Nerdist Chris Hardwick, to discuss this week’s zombie revelation. Don’t get this author wrong—zombies are awesome. Yet the widespread obsession with zombies is far beyond the purview of “normal.” Does the widespread enthusiasm that filled the social web upon the first reports of bath salts disturb anybody else? This sort of apocalyptic obsession is equivalent to the widespread obsession with the Left Behind fiction series among Christians back in the 1990s. Although Left Behind is fictional, many of its readers hope, whether consciously or subconsciously, that the eschatology depicted is an accurate forecast of the future. For these readers, a mushroom cloud over Israel or a worldwide earthquake would not necessarily be regarded as a bad thing.

This is not to be browbeat Christians or The Walking Dead fans, although the Book of Revelation does talk about “the dead rising.” The history of humanity has a long obsession with death and doomsday that can be found in countless doctrines and religious writings. Eschatology is even a sub branch in contemporary cosmology that contains various theories about how the universe will end. What makes zombie fiction so enticing is its ability to tap into our archaic desire to peer into the face of the grim reaper while teetering on the edge of the abyss without blinking. The Walking Dead fans are indeed a cult obsessed with death.

Editorial by Nathan Cranford


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8 Responses to "‘Walking Dead’ Fans a Cult Obsessed With Death"

  1. Jamie Ott (@jolievoila)   September 15, 2014 at 12:13 pm

    I’m not obsessed with death, but I do like end of the world scenarios. I like the stories about how people survive, whether by sheer luck or skill. I’m not a death obsessed freak, lol, but I think it’s the equivalent of watching an action film or a war film. You like watching the fight and the moves, and seeing who wins and how they win. For me, it’s seeing who loses and who wins.

    People like to escape; escapism is entertainment. We each have our preferences for escapism: I just happen to like to zombie films because, if you do research, zombie was originally about rabies gone wild. Currently, there are several species that are victims of zombie because of virus that do control their brains – birds, slugs, etc. It’s a possibility that is totally outrageous, yet there is that tiny possibility. Plus, it’s not as devastating as virus and EMP scenarios. Zombies, you have a chance to fight and win. It’s not like you never see it coming, except for those who take the chance and get bit in the beginning, lol.

    Call me a nerd or a geek, if you will, but I’m nowhere near goth or emo, as I get the impression you seem to think, lol.

  2. The Pigman   June 7, 2014 at 5:26 am

    Is this article meant to be some sort of clumsy attempt at humor? I bloody hope so.

  3. Lindsay Sturgill   February 10, 2014 at 9:14 pm

    If you think that The Walking Dead is all about the drooling, mindless and flesh-hungry zombies, or better known as “walkers”, you clearly haven’t set down and watched it. TWD goes way beyond just the apocalypse but what happens after… The survivors and how they cope without laws and with each other. It’s humanity at it’s core and how far people will go to preserve it or to escape from it. Obsessed with Death? No. With great entertainment? Yes.

  4. Hayden   February 10, 2014 at 8:53 pm

    How did they decide that more adults “tuned in” to TWD than the Super Bowl? Last I read it was the most highly rated Super Bowl ever with more than 111 million viewers. Does this mean that 95 million of those users were under 18 or was it just some clever joke about how poor the game was that went over my head?

  5. C. Crawford   February 10, 2014 at 8:38 pm

    Not obsessed with death, not hanging around hoping a zombie wanders in. It’s called entertainment. Did you ever watch scarey movies? Did your mom watch soap operas? TWD has great effects, interesting plot twists and is better than some movies that are being released. Death obsessed and drooling? I think not.

  6. Rick Miller   February 10, 2014 at 5:44 pm

    Sadly, the author doesn’t get the point. It’s a TV show intended for entertainment. I’m 61 years old and appreciate the work of the writers, actors and crew. It’s all motion picture quality especially the special makeup effects by Greg Nicotero!

  7. Colleen   February 10, 2014 at 5:21 pm

    Calling The Walking Dead simply a show about zombies is very shallow. It is a show that is focused on how life continues…it has nothing to do with the obsession of death, it is about living and life…how people choose to continue on after the unthinkable happens. I question if the author of this article has even watched the show or not. As for them flocking to Chris Hardwick afterwards, well yeah Talking Dead is a very interesting show when it includes people who talk about what the show is really about….it isn’t about the zombies at all, but about the survivors.

  8. robert lopez   February 10, 2014 at 5:00 pm

    Its not because of the zombies we watch the show its because of how the humans act the zombies are there and you see them coming almost like cars when crossing the street but the humans you don’t see them coming when they back stab you


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