On The Walking Dead

Rick and Rand

The Objectivist Hero in The Walking Dead

By Ned Vizzini

The apocalypse is not going anywhere. After thwarting our attempts to bring it about in Y2K, it went dormant, built up buzz, and resurfaced as the Mayan transformation of 2012, which has taken over entire sections of chain bookstores. (If you are thinking ahead, you may want to check out 2013: Raising the Earth to the Next Vibration.) When 2012 comes and goes, human beings are sure to fixate on another end, perhaps exhuming Nostradamus’ stale supermarket predictions or falling back on the comfortingly un-outlandish but no less dramatic scenarios of climate change, terrorism, and plague. The apocalypse is compelling to us–sexy, even. As Chuck Palahniuk observes in Lullaby, “Every generation wants to be the last.”

Why are humans so fascinated, across cultures and religions, with our end? Is it self-importance, as Palahniuk implies? Is it the communal manifestation of the individual death wishes that make us smoke, or drink, and purchase books such as 2013: Raising the Earth to the Next Vibration? While these are factors, The Walking Dead, both the comic and TV series, illustrates that the biggest draw of the apocalypse is the way it absolves us of our responsibilities.

In the twenty-first century, we live lives burdened by crushing, metastasizing obligations: to our bodies, our clothes, our homes, our cars, our jobs, our kids, our internet presence. The apocalypse offers us a chance to erase all of these and scale life back to one responsibility–staying alive. We can be like the heroes in Trainspotting, who forgo all earthly  …

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