Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Walking Lead

I have seen parts of some episodes of the AMC show The Walking Dead, along with some inside parts of the characters on the show.  As the show’s title would suggest, the content can be graphic and on that count, the show does not disappoint.  If you don’t need to close your eyes and look away, it can’t be good television anymore.  Fear sells.  

It’s not just about blood and guts.  The blood and guts is merely the sexy window dressing for the standard human drama of different people thrust into a stressful situation, coping and conflicting together.  In that sense, it’s no different than Survivor or The Bachelorette or Hockey Night in Canada.  We tune in for the fights and for the violence.  

I have never been much of a fan of zombies and the thought of watching zombies gorge on a living human smorgasbord turns my stomach.  The show does have a loyal and motivated following however, so I was curious about all the hype. 

I did watch about 30 minutes of an episode the other day on an empty stomach.  The cast was in constant fear of the soulless creatures breaking into their encampment and attacking the innocent without remorse.  The citizens protected themselves with rifles equipped with high capacity magazines, and they were not afraid to use them.  Thank goodness for the 2nd Amendment or else zombies would have taken over their world. 
Watching the TV drama unfold put today’s gun culture in perspective for me.    Without guns and high capacity magazines, the zombie apocalypse would lead to the end of humanity as we know it.  In the same way, without guns and high capacity magazines in our communities, the invasion of illegal immigrants and gangbangers would lead to the end of American humanity as we know it.

Guns will save the world from criminals and zombies.  Fear sells, and right now, it’s selling a sh*tload guns in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Scared.

My wife visited the store recently and the store shares a parking lot with an expo center that was sponsoring a gun show.  The parking lot was packed.  Men, women, zombies and families were bustling in and out of the show, happily shopping for new gun and ammo options.  These folks were exercising their legal rights under the 2nd Amendment.  Have a good time.  

What brought them out to the show wasn’t just a deep belief in freedom.  I believe that the traffic at the gun show represents less a display of Constitutional solidarity than a display of fear in action.  The large number of attendees is a validation that fear drives the sales of weapons, and sales drives the profitability of the gun industry, so more fear is on tap.  

In The Walking Dead, the bad people are infected with a disease, and they are coming for you.  They will not stop unless you destroy them by being constantly vigilant and exercising superior firepower.  In modern America, we’re being told the same thing and many believe it.  Bad people are coming to get you, so buy a gun.  Only another more powerful weapon will protect you and your loved ones from the criminal (or federal) apocalypse.  Be armed and ready because anything could happen. 

Of course anything is possible, which is the same rationalization used by families in the 1950s who dug bomb shelters in their backyards and germophobes who wash their hands 30-40 times a day.  Anything can happen.  Statistically, however, anything rarely happens.
Statistically you are between 12 and 43 times more likely to be shot or killed if you own a gun than if you do not.  That’s a wide range and it depends on whose research you trust most, but suffice to say, owning a gun makes being shot more likely than not.  That’s factually true.  But the gun show parking lot was at overflow with people lining up for the chance to own one, before the Obama Zombies come to take them away I guess. 

I don’t want to ban guns or confiscate guns.  Obama doesn’t either.  But I am asking the question - how many do we really need?  Why is everyone so afraid and what industry is benefiting from that fear?

The contagion of fear that is driving gun sales about as rational as the fear of the coming zombie apocalypse.  That doesn’t stop people from preparing, just in case, as this story from Montana illustrates:

A Montana television station’s regular programming was interrupted by news of a zombie apocalypse.

The Montana Television Network said hackers broke into the Emergency Alert System of Great Falls affiliate KRTV and its CW station Monday.

KRTV said on its website the hackers broadcast that “dead bodies are rising from their graves” in several Montana counties.

The alert claimed the bodies were “attacking the living” and warned people not to “approach or apprehend these bodies as they are extremely dangerous.”

The network said there is no emergency and its engineers are investigating.

A call to KRTV was referred to a Montana Television Network executive in Bozeman. Jon Saunders didn’t immediately return a call for comment.

The Great Falls Tribune reported the hoax alert generated at least four calls to police to see if the report were true.

No need to stock up, gentlemen, even though anything could happen.  It’s just a TV show.

Fear sells.

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