[Content Note: Spoilers are lurching around undeadly herein. Descriptions of violence.]
This is the last Walking Thread I will ever write.
I have been covering The Walking Dead for almost exactly five years. I have made no secret of the fact that I have long been hate-watching the show, doing recaps in which I buried serious deconstruction of systemic oppressions in between all-caps sarcasm.
There have been times when I have come extremely close to throwing in the towel, but it was often the times when the show got darkest that people reached out the most plaintively to tell me how much they valued my recaps.
But I am drawing a line here. I cannot watch nor write about The Walking Dead any longer.
Last night, I watched Sunday's Season 7 premiere. By the halfway point, I felt utterly nauseated. It wasn't by the gratuitously graphic depictions of violence, which are, frankly, nothing new for the show. It was by the fact that I was being obliged to watch torture, ostensibly being carried out by Negan—a character so cartoonishly villainous that he became transparent enough through which I could see his creators.
The writers of the show are Negan. The big bad. The worst of them all.
[CN: Spoilers; violence] Deep in her review of the episode, The Daily Beast's Melissa Leon notes: "At San Diego Comic-Con this year, visitors to the show's booth posed with lifelike replicas of Negan's kneeling, would-be victims. Its cross-brand Twitter emoji on premiere night was Negan's bat. The show has gleefully done everything it can to amplify this experience."
I didn't know that when I watched the episode. I only read it afterwards; after I had already come away from the episode seeing straight through Negan's sadistic glee to the writers' room. It merely confirmed what I'd already felt.
And then I read that the episode director Greg Nicotero said on a phone call with reporters, in defense of the graphic violence: "In this instance, we felt it was important to launch us into this season to show the extent of what Negan is capable of doing because that drives so much of where the series is going from here on. It's graphic and horrible."
Not what Negan is capable of doing. What the show creators are capable of doing to their audience.
I'm not going to hang around for it.
I'm not going to watch a show that has seeks to do to its audience the very thing it is supposedly condemning. And nothing could have made more plain the increasingly malicious instinct of the creators than forcing us to watch a horrendously gruesome death of a character they were widely criticized for saving in the most manipulative way last season. Instead of making amends for shitty writing, they doubled-down and rubbed our faces in his torturous death.
That's not even about a TV show anymore. That's about human beings making a decision that is just unkind to other human beings, many of whom have long supported them.
This is me checking out. Later, Grimes Gang.