Warning: This column is a spoiler for those who haven't seen Season 5 of The Walking Dead.
On the show The Walking Dead, there's a 16-year old, female character named Beth Greene (played by Emily Kinney), who was, at first, written as one-dimensionally weak and whiny. However, in recent episodes in the fifth season, she started coming into her own, gaining strength, smarts and courage. And just when you thought this young woman was going to survive the zombie post-apocalypse—that at any minute she'd toss her hat into the air while the soundtrack jangled, "You're gonna make it after all"—she got shot in the head in the mid-season finale.
Yeah, it was devastating, but whatever: It's a TV show. However, there are some people, mostly young women, who want her written back into the show. They believe it was an act of sexism to kill her. They claim the producers offed a strong female role model for no other reason than to give more depth to her male counterpart, in this case Daryl Dixon, with whom she'd bonded. So they began a petition on Change.org which, as of this writing, has secured 40,000 signatories—and by "signatories," I mean "irredeemable buffoons."
"Her story wasn't over," the petition states. "Beth was a symbol of hope that a lot of women could relate to... By sloppily killing her, it just shows that she was used to further a man's storyline... Emily Kinney and her character didn't deserve this..."
Now, the rational response to a TV show with writing you don't appreciate is to stop watching it. It is not to initiate a petition containing asinine remarks like, "Her story wasn't over," because, well, her story is over, you dodo! How do we know her story is over? Because the writers who invented her story just ended it.
"Emily Kinney and her character didn't deserve this." Wait, what? You're saying both Emily and her character didn't deserve it? That this otherwise unknown actor—who landed a role on one of the most popular shows on television, became a huge celebrity and made tons of money—somehow got screwed?
As for her character not deserving to die, don't you know? Deserve's got nothing to do with it. Did Lt. Col. Henry Blake deserve to die in a plane crash? Did Ned Stark deserve to get his head chopped off? Did Old Yeller deserve to catch the rabies and be replaced by Young Yeller? Did Big Pussy deserve to have his fat, bullet-riddled body dumped in the ocean and piecemealed by crabs? Well, OK, maybe he deserved it.
But of all the petition's complaints, it's this business about The Walking Dead creators being sexist that's most absurd. First of all, male protagonists on the show are killed at a slightly higher rate than women (I know, I counted them). Secondly, the last person to die before Beth was Bob, whose death clearly added depth to the character of his girlfriend.
Third, Daryl isn't Beth's closest counterpart. Her sister Maggie is the most likely to gain dimension from Beth's death. And Maggie's already quite an ass-kicker. Indeed, almost all of the female regulars on the show are brave, smart and strong, which helps explain why it's a huge hit among women. According to Ad Week, the third season was "the most watched show on U.S. cable among women." You just don't get that large a female audience with sexist plot lines.
And that leads to my last point: Even if these female characters are just supporting roles for males—so what? That's no more wrong than when the men on, say, Desperate Housewives, are supporting roles for female characters; it is from a female perspective after all. On the other hand, the zombie genre is historically male-oriented. Men have, by and large, produced, written and consumed the undead (eww). It's been that way since 1968—when George Romero gave birth to the modern zombie era via Night of the Living Dead. After that, it was nearly five decades of mostly crap movies that were largely, and wisely, ignored by women.
It really wasn't until The Walking Dead that women began tuning in. I think it's because the show's not so much about zombies as it is friendship, family, romance and all that other soap-opera shit that just ruins a perfectly good zombie apocalypse. You also have an ample supply of man-meat to gawk at, such as recovering bad boy Daryl Dixon. I mean, show me a woman who doesn't melt for Daryl, and I'll show you a gal whose vagina was bitten by a zombie and who now roams the streets undead and unhorny.
The point is: Buzz off, bitches! You don't get to jump on a bandwagon this late in the game and start calling the shots. I mean, where were you when we, the real, true zombie fans, endured all those horrible flicks of the last five decades? Did you see Redneck Zombies? No? Well I did. What about Nudist Colony of the Dead? Zombie Lake? Zombie High? Children of the Living Dead? I know for a fact that you never saw The RetarDead—a movie about a zombie outbreak in a mental institution—because if you had, you'd have blown your brains out and handed them to the zombies yourself.
The list of bad zombie movies is as vast and unwatchable as feel-good rom-coms with a message, but we nerds of the undead have sat through most of them because of the ever-so-slight possibility that a good or great one will pop up. And now that we actually have a great zombie TV show with great acting, great writing, great cinematography and great effects, a few fair-weather fucknuggets want to rewrite it? Well, suck my brains out, baby pop. Ain't gonna happen.
Write to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. Edwin Decker blogs at www.edwindecker.com. Follow him on Twitter @edwindecker or find him on Facebook.
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