Episode 316: Anyone Out There?

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Zombie Cliche Lookout: Authority

In most zombie stories, people of authority usually have no business being in authority, and the more power they have, the less competent they tend to be. I think there are two important reasons for that. First, it’s hard to have a complete breakdown of society when the people in charge respond quickly and appropriately to the crisis. That just doesn’t make for a very interesting story. Second, many fans of the genre tend to also be the type who put a lot of value in self-reliance. Counting on the government to save you is anathema to them, so showing how badly the government screws things up is just playing things up to your audience.

About this Episode:

That second panel? It was actually a lot of work to get it to look right. I wanted to play around a bit with the lighting, since I thought it would be both fun and appropriate given the scene. So I built my elevator with a chain-link-fence panel for a ceiling. I figured this would give me a cool looking shadow effect. I was wrong.

I shoot Bricks of the Dead in a homemade lightbox. This is just a simple PVC frame with a cloth covering the diffuses the light to make it more even, without harsh shadows or bright spots. That diffusion also makes a simple effect like in the second panel difficult.

After trying a few different methods of getting it to work, I ended up just shooting the picture while holding an LED flashlight above the elevator. The LED had a different color temperature than the rest of the scene, which I hope makes it stand out a lot more.

Discussion Question: Role of Government in a Zombie Apocalypse

Other than folding like a house of cards, and dragging a lot of innocent people to their untimely deaths, what do you like to see the government doing during your zombie apocalypse stories? Should they be trying and failing to help people? Rescuing the rich and powerful while leaving others to die? Quarantining infected cities in an abortive attempt to save the rest of the country?

29 thoughts on “Episode 316: Anyone Out There?”

  1. They should be staying out of my damn way.

    Oh in a story? Right..
    I always like when they try to quarantine and fail… But not only from a mix of being overrun, but also because of soldiers going AWOL/Becoming Deserters to go see their family and protect them.

    • I’m a big fan of the failed quarantine as well.

  2. I’ve always imagined what happened during Hurricane Katrina to be a fairly accurate model of how the government – federal, state, and local – would handle a zombie outbreak.
    Even if they acknowledged the problem from the beginning (trust me, I still have my doubts about that “bath salt” “scare” from last year), they’d sit on their hands and say “It’s not our department” until it was too late. Local authorities would wait for state or government responses, state and federal authorities would deem it a local matter and let the local authorities deal with it, etc.

    • I think you’re completely right, Darg. Katrina was horrifyingly illustrative of the Governments ability to handle a large-scale crisis.

  3. You speak of a zombie apocalypse happening as if it were in America. Well, I’m in Australia, and I can tell you right now if the Australian Federal Government were to have a zombie apocalypse on it’s hands it would first have to pass legislation through both the Upper and Lower houses of Parliament, it would have to be debated to death by the parties for and against it, and the result would be an extremely worthless and ineffective piece of paper which would basically be useless for anything except fire-starting which there would be an awful lot of due to the amount of rioters, well at least until they got turned into zombies too.

    I would imagine the government would probably be considered zombies by genuine zombies, that might save them for a little bit until some of them really get bitten and when that happens both Houses of Parliament would get literally dissolved when they all either get eaten or are zombiefied themselves.

    The short is that I don’t think the Australian Federal Government would be at all prepared for what would ultimately overrun it, nor would it be able to enact workable legislation or mobilize forces in timely fashion to deal with it, and would ultimately be just Grade A zombie chow waiting for a zombie to happen on it.

    Therefore the last place I would want to be is anywhere near a politician or anyone who has anything at all to do with governing the country, nor would I expect them to do anything you listed in the discussion question as they’d all ultimately be zombies or Grade A zombie chow. 😉

    • Yeah, I’m sure I do write with a pretty Amero-centric voice. It’s really hard not to. However, I think the questions works well internationally, as you have illustrated.

      This almost sounds like a farce, like Dr. Strangelove with zombies instead of nuclear weapons.

  4. They would probably take the rich and leaving the modern citizens and the poor for dead like the movie Land of the Dead except the rich die and the poor live on.

    • The rich and powerful would certainly be afforded a lot more than the rest of us common zombie fodder.

  5. Im not so sure that the rich and powerful will really do all that better then anyone else as far as government goes. At least not once its clear that society is really breaking down. I mean, whos really going to care if your a big Hollywood producer or the CEO of Microsoft once it becomes clear that there arent going to be any movies or internet for the next few decades.

    • Oh I’d definitely agree here. I really like how World War Z handled these “VIPs” in the middle of the zombie outbreak.

  6. There is a plan for continuity of government. It’s likely not how the tinfoil hat nutters think it is, at least not completely; but you can bet your bottom dollar there is one; and it likely would not work in a full-scale Collapse. First, as Calicade mentioned, too many individuals would simply not show up, whether it’s to protect their own families, or because they’re not getting paid (as if fiat currency has any value once the balloon goes up). A few True Believers will stay; but their numbers are too few and far between.

    That said, I’ve never read or seen zombie fiction that truly stands up to close scrutiny, unless it’s the Romero scenario where the dead all rise spontaneously and simultaneously. In a Patient Zero scenario, all the military has to do is roll in with armor. I’ve never seen a zombie bite through an Abrams, or even a Bradley, to say nothing of gunships. That’s one thing the authors never take into consideration.

    I think you make and interesting point regarding authority, Dave. I don’t think it’s perceived>/i> incompetence, though. I think that they mostly are incompetent, corrupt, and wasteful. It is society that buoys government, not the other way around. When society finally does collapse, there will be nothing to hold up our corrupt government officials, agencies, and systems. The more corrupt and rotten it gets, the harder it is to keep it intact. Even now, they’ve reduced hiding their corruption to a wink and a nod. It’s Chicago-style politics everywhere in the US.

    • Yeah, perceived was “probably” a little too charitable.

  7. Very cool photography!

    • Thank you, Greg! It was a fun little challenge.

  8. By the way, on the photography in the elevator, it might have worked a bit better if you had made the elevator a cage-style elevator complete with sliding exit. That being said, if you were going for a modern walled elevator completely enclosed, they don’t really have gratings in them anyway. However, the effect is wonderful visually, so I would say keep it exactly as is, because where the lighting effect itself is concerned, that’s a fantastic photography shot! 😀

    I’m moving today, finally getting somewhere, so if I don’t respond for a while it’s because I was unable to find a workable internet solution! 😉

    • Yeah, it’s sort of a mish-mash. I wanted a modern looking elevator, since this is a modern looking office. The lighting is a touch unrealistic, but I like the effect a lot, and thing it’s fitting for the scene, if not the setting.

      However, in my building we have walled elevators, and when a light burns out they sort of look like this.

  9. Corruption all over the US? I don’t see how that would affect the country’s state in the ZA. As soon as an outbreak became citywide, there would be soldiers and SWAT officers galore.
    Soldiers running away? Possible for some to go check on their families, but that’s what the international us for. As for just running from the zombies, soldiers risk their lives regularly, and see many terrible things. It’s called determination, folks.
    Tanks being nigh-invincible? Sure. So would be helicopters or planes. Can’t get me up here! Suckers!
    Of course, this talk is only focused on America. Say a lesser-equipped country is attacked, such as Germany or Iran.

    • I think the running away thing is possible. Look how many police officers abandoned their posts in Katrina. Soldiers would be less likely to do so, but who’s to say how quickly our guys could get pulled out of deployment, transported back home, and re-assigned. In the middle of the zombie apocalypse, that might be tough.

      • Redeploying troops from overseas could take a while, sure, but I’m pretty sure there are plenty of troops inside the US who could be mobilised a lot faster.

  10. I like the photography in the second frame, the elevator looks like a dancefloor 🙂

    with regards to the question and previos comments about tanks and helicopters being safe. I’ll refer to the scene in TWD when Rick first rides into Atlanta……a military checkpoint that had been overrun. The tank was not ‘buttoned up’ so the crew fell victim to the horde. No visible use of its main gun…perhaps the military were wary of collaterall damage.
    How this would all play out in a real world scenario is anyones guess, but I enjoy hearing everyones ideas.

    • Hah, thanks Dex

  11. They didn’t button down the tank? Or use the main gun even once? Idiots.

    • I’m guessing they were under orders not to cause a bunch of damage to the Atlanta infrastructure, and by the time those orders would have been rescinded, it was likely too late.

      • Eh, main gun wouldn’t be much good anyway I wouldn’t have thought. That’s for fighting other tanks. I wouldn’t really want a tank for fighting zombies myself, an IFV would be no more vulnerable but quite a bit faster, and should pack similar anti-infantry weapons. They’re a lot cheaper too, so the army has more of them to go around.

  12. Dave, did you get that gun from Brickforge and how many do you think you could fit in a standard Lego 3×4 crate?

    • That gun is from BrickArms. It’s their Beretta.

      I’m not sure how many would fit in a crate. Probably a good number though. It’s fairly small.

  13. Personally I think it’s good whenever the government try to save the “important” and kill off the rest, (a bit half-lifey lol)

    • One of these days, I need to check out Half Life.

      • The Redeker plan…