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View Diary: Is Tyreese "Made to Suffer"? In The Walking Dead TV Show There Can Be Only One Black Male Character (342 comments)

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  •  thanks (10+ / 0-)

    I enjoy these diaries.  Even though I don't always agree, perhaps BECAUSE I don't always agree, I find them interesting.  In theory it doesn't actually surprise me how much push-back you get, but it does kinda when I see it here.  So much resistance to alternate ways of seeing things!

    Anyway, as a white woman I did a total face-palm when they killed off the prisoner last night.  I also just caught up with your last diary about Michonne and am sorry I missed the discussion.  I've never read the graphic novels, so your analysis about the rape was news to me.  

    As a female, my first instinct is to say I'm glad they didn't include that in the show.  I get what you were saying about her character being forged by that event and you mentioned racially symbolic aspects that I never would've thought of, but I've decided I'm glad the woman needed no further motive for revenge than any man would have - she was de-armed, held prisoner, then hunted.  That would've satisfied for any male character.

    •  i love the to and fro with smart folks who really (9+ / 0-)

      want to engage. the silliness i can go without. there are multiple ways to view any cultural text, some are more accurate than others. and most--most certainly mine--can certainly be improved.

      people are so defensive about something as "silly" as popular culture. this tells us about its power. you should see how students react in one of my intro to cultural studies courses when I have them deconstruct Disney cartoons. The tears and anger. I like my job.

    •  Never read the books either, and agree w/you. (7+ / 0-)

      Michonne needs no further motivation to contest the Governor's authority.  He and his cohort entrapped her and Andrea, disarmed them (in itself an offense worthy of the death penalty in many westerns), lied to them, and concealed the fact that he has walkers corralled for whatever reason, and ultimately seduced Andrea into abandoning Michonne.  

      I appreciate chauncey's explication of Michonne as a "magical negress zombie killing machine," because really, as a character, she's just flat, as scripted and portrayed.  I get the idea of creating a sense of mystery about her background, and in that sense, she's become almost like Eastwood's "man with no name."  Problem is, as she's currently being played (and I mean no disrespect to Danai Gurira), she doesn't even have that character's redemptive quality of ironic humor, or even a marginal sense of morality (e.g., in "A Fistful of Dollars," The Man W/No Name ends up betraying himself by trying to help a young couple who have been split up by one of the clans).  These would be obvious memes to make her more accessible as a more well-known stereotype, and indeed would kind of flip the idea of the power structure; but that's not how she's being played.  Instead, she's just what chauncey describes - which is really not interesting or relatable as a character.  

      Some of the issues with regard to Rick's authority, white power structure, etc., I've regarded since starting to watch the show as indicative of the setting of the series; the universe is confined to a relatively small area, in Georgia, where those types of power structures have existed (as chauncey describes) for hundreds of years, and that, to me, is both why these memes exist in the series, as well as why chauncey's critique's seem spot on, in many regards.  I've seen the series as a missive on the moral and political outlook of the conservative South, and of the contemporary conservative view of America, with "Walkers" largely standing in for the pyrrhic victory of liberals, Northerners, foreigners, the U.N., etc. (the combined boogeymen of the conservative mind).  

      In that sense, I find it very telling that Hershel survives, while T-Dog dies, and the manner in which both zombie assaults take place.  It fits in very well with the whole meme of white male authority being under siege, but ultimately prevailing.  In keeping with that, I also note that Rick's (and in turn Carl's) authority comes, in no small part, from wielding a large hand-gun, while other characters are relegated to using knives, bows, arrows, clubs, etc.  I guess I'm especially sensitive to that today, what with the discussion about Bob Costa's remarks.  

      The setting, for me, is what makes the show reasonably worth watching, because it places the racial tensions, etc., in a context in which they are more believable than would be possible if the series was set in say, Southern California, or Reno Nevada (see Steve Nile's "Remains.")  It also does a pretty good job of exposing the fault lines in American society as a rural vs. urban dichotomy (reminds me of all sorts of images/stories "city mouse and country mouse" etc.), reflecting the current rural vs. urban political split in the country, and follows in the old meme of "cityfolks" as people to be ridiculed by the hardworking rurals.  And that's also, for me, the real conflict in the direction of the series -- do they confront the geo-political issues, or the racial issues, or do they, as seems more likely, continue to confront neither in any meaningful fashion?  I had hopes that it would evolve into critiques on both fronts, but as the series has "progressed," it doesn't really seem to be doing either.  Which is a shame.  

      We are the first to look up and know, with absolute certainty, that the sword we ourselves have forged, is real.

      by Jbearlaw on Mon Dec 03, 2012 at 01:04:39 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  great comment, wish i had written it (9+ / 0-)

        "In keeping with that, I also note that Rick's (and in turn Carl's) authority comes, in no small part, from wielding a large hand-gun,"

        few have picked up on the phallic subtext there. you are very helpful in thinking of the role of region and race in the narrative. it is much more subtle than True Blood which plays with similar themes, but is still present.

        the zombies are an approved enemy, just like Nazis, that you can kill at will. they are a blank slate existentially and ontologically as one can do whatever you want without guilt. There is something very fascinating with the walking dead too that I will save for a later date as I don't want someone to scoop me in "the real world." But, I am surprised it hasn't been talked about much to my knowledge.

        •  "Guns, germs and steel" (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          peregrine kate, Cartoon Peril

          Of these, the most important in modern american pop culture is inarguably guns.  I don't think you can explore the concept of white male power in modern/contemporary (post 1950's) american pop culture without looking at the role of the handgun in film and television.  Dirty Harry's .44 Magnum became such a cliche that Eastwood himself made fun of the whole meme by using a harpoon in "The Dead Pool," and I can recall a short-lived comedy in the 80's called "Sledge Hammer," wherein the whole series was  an extended pun/play on the theme of the white cop who thinks all problems can be solved by using his overly-large gun (as I recall, the show was horribly bad).  But the theme is actually larger than that, and goes back at least as far as Hawkeye's long rifle; in many westerns pre-dating the Eastwood era, wielders of hand guns were portrayed as impulsive and dangerous, often youths out to make themselves a reputation, whereas those who used rifles were more apt to be judicious and restrained, particularly with regard to the use of force --  a thematic construct which is still current in many westerns; Silverado and Unforgiven both leap to mind as films in which the more considered role is given to the mature black man rather than the young white men in both films -- and I'd imagine one could have a bit of fun with the racial aspect of the "long rifle" there, as well, if you know what I mean.  

          We are the first to look up and know, with absolute certainty, that the sword we ourselves have forged, is real.

          by Jbearlaw on Mon Dec 03, 2012 at 01:55:00 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  I don't see Michonne that way. She had her pet (10+ / 0-)

        zombies -- what was that all about?  Where they once her friends -- family members?  There's a lot more to the character than meets the eye, and of course Danai Gurira is great.

        The person I don't much like is Andrea.  Basically she seems kind of trampy and selfish, and so far her choices of BFs (Shane, the Governor) leave a LOT to be desired.

        You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

        by Cartoon Peril on Mon Dec 03, 2012 at 05:53:20 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Reading the comic will help (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Jbearlaw, Nulwee

        Herschel surviving and T-dog dying really makes sense because
        T-dog is not in the comic and Herschel is.  

        In the comic Herschel keeps his leg and some other guy goes through that experience and dies.  Either way T-Dog doesn't make it because he is not in the story in the first place.

        Merle and Daryl are a mash up of Otis in the comic.  They had to write in some rednecks because they weren't in the story.  There is no shortage of rednecks in GA either.

        If you really look at it.  There are only a few main characters that are pushing the story line now.

        The Governor
        Tyrese will be added soon

        Then you have a series of side characters that are creating situations that allow the story line to further develop

        Of the four main characters that have their own story lines that can develop on their own, two of them are black and one is a female.

        Who ya gonna shoot wit dat homie, you'd rather blast an original instead of a phony, true macaroni, you don't even know me, and why does your gun say n****z only?

        by mim5677 on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 06:51:08 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

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