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Saturday, October 26, 2013 

Manny Alvarez thinks The Walking Dead TV show is hurting America

Dr. Manny Alvarez wrote an op-ed on Fox News about why he thinks the TV show based on Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead comic is a poor influence for America:
Is watching “The Walking Dead” seriously hurting American society?

I would argue ‘Yes.’ Hate me all you want, or call me paranoid and misinformed, but there is one common theme that is pervasive in American pop culture today: violence. Even more specifically, zombie violence. The idea of a zombie-infested world inspires fantasies of monsters possessed by an uncontrollable rage to kill, and viewers get a thrill imagining what it would be like to participate in this new world order.

We also see this zombie obsession in many videogames. Even more disturbingly, these games create environments for young children, in which they are exposed to an imaginary world where they get to play with firearms and place themselves in dangerous situations that they find exciting. And studies have shown that these videogames can sometimes condition people, especially young children, to be apathetic towards violence. That’s why they’re labeled M for Mature.
It's a legitimate argument, and there is another one we could make that it's very dangerous to encourage children to uphold guns and other weapons like holy alters. But, there is at least one flaw in this article that I'll focus on soon, that undermines it's impact.

This was found through CBR's Robot 6 blog, where the writer apparently saw this as an opportunity to bash conservatives. He says:
Despite what you may have heard, the real threat to America may not be illegal immigration, same-sex marriage or even Obamacare. No, it turns out that it’s Robert Kirkman & Co.
Why must it be solely Kirkman and company? The article is really about what Alvarez feels is an obsession with zombie mayhem, and while the concept may not be that rampant in Hollywood, there have been some examples of zombie movies over the years, with 1968's Night of the Living Dead one of the first to capitalize on thrillers spotlighting zombies. I guess that's the CBR writer's idea of mocking conservatives even as he comes off sounding like he really would be more comfy if they turned their attention to the 3 issues he cited and paid less attention to The Walking Dead. He goes on to say:
Before anyone has a chance to consider the question, Fox News Channel’s senior medical contributor answers with a confident “Yes.” And with that solved, Alvarez is free to focus on other pressing concerns, like the nature of Batman and Robin’s relationship, or, y’know, the dangers of socialized medicine or something. Then again, maybe not.
Since when did Alvarez not give anybody the chance to ponder his query? This is an op-ed, not a lecture at a college campus, where he could ask the audience to raise their hand and say what they think, and then go on to say what he thinks is the situation at hand. Doesn't sound to me like he said this because he really thinks Alvarez was blowing hot air into the sky. If he said this out of a knee-jerk instinct to bash Fox News because to him, they represent conservatism, it's laughable, because any realist knows they can be just as bad as CNN, BBC, CBS, or any other mainstream outlet, and not just in terms of political coverage per se, but also in how they cover comics-related medium. On the one hand, I have only to think of the time when one of their affiliates ran a report where a guest spoke of Starfire from the New Teen Titans as though she'd been created only several years ago in cartoons proper and was kid-friendly material from the get-go, which is not so. Do I approve of that inaccuracy? Of course not, and I think the guy who made that complaint should apologize for not doing his homework and just conveying his argument according to the position of whether DC was now writing her to look like a brain-dead idiot. On the other hand, they paid lip service to Axel Alonso when he wanted to promote PC diversity, all without even asking if Marvel's concentrating on talented writing, or what he's doing to create more co-stars rather than superheroes to represent his oh-so precious diversity.

By all means, the latter example should prove that they aren't much different from their more leftist counterparts in fawning over showbiz reps with poor ideas for how to market their product. Yet more than 15 years after Fox went major, some leftists like the ones looking this over at CBR still think they're the only cause for concern, while mostly letting other media outlets of the left-wing persuasion off the hook. When will they ever come to realize that while Fox is not above criticism, they're just one drop in a bucket of other news companies who can be just as bad, if not worse, in their focus on comicdom as Fox could? Point of fact reality check: a left-wing news outlet is equally capable of running a report that's either inaccurate in terms of history or fawning over politically correct trends, yet I suspect that if such were the case, CBR and other leftist sites would be more lenient on them than they would be on Fox, even if a left-wing news company ended up causing a comic more harm with their PC coverage than a right-wing one did.

TV Overmind had a better, simpler point to make about what's wrong with Alvarez's whole argument:
...as a doctor, Dr. Manny thinks it’s just plain silly that we’re pretending like zombies can exist at all
Well, that's putting it over a lot better than CBR did. Fantasy is something we can read for entertainment, and zombie tales are just one facet of fantasy as a genre. If Alvarez is suggesting nobody knows the difference between real life and fiction, of course that's the really silly thing. What matters is whether we're taking our facinations with violent fantasy too far, and letting it get the better of our interests when there's always many brighter, more colorful fantasy tales we could be giving a chance to. Stories that can be just as appealing to adults as the next zombie thriller might be, and even more so.

I wonder why nobody, even at Fox News, seems to ask questions like that?

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  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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