Episode 419: What Are You Gonna Do?

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Zombie Cliche Lookout: Him or Us

One thing that zombie stories love to do is to push characters to see just how far they would go in order to survive. What’s interesting is that, depending on the story, sometimes characters who are willing to go to all lengths are the heroes, and sometimes they’re the villains.

There is generally a tipping point somewhere in the process. A good person will look after their family and friends, even if that means taking things that don’t belong to them, or not taking unnecessary risks for the sake of strangers. And when that’s not enough, they have a choice to make. Do they continue on an unethical path for the sake of the group, or do they make a stand and try to get by without harming others outright? If that means sacrificing your own group, is that really the moral choice?

About this Episode:

I’m digging this little arc with Inez. I’m trying to make her seem very untrustworthy, but at the same time leaving some doubt in the mind that she might really be telling the truth. Did she honestly try to save Lou, or did she just leave him to seize on the opportunity fate afforded her?

Discussion Question: An Impossible Question?

One thing I hear often from fans of zombies is plans of how they’ll survive and thrive in the zombie apocalypse. Now, these are usually just fun, silly thought exercises, but sometimes people are dead serious about this. I don’t have any problem with planning for emergencies, but it seems like some of these people are really into the idea of thriving in the post-apocalyptic world, and doing so by being as immoral as necessary.

My question is, if someone plans to be morally flexible to get by, does this reflect somehow on their character? Are they being realistic about how they’ll need to be, or are they using this as an excuse to embrace their inner bastard?

15 thoughts on “Episode 419: What Are You Gonna Do?”

  1. Typo alert: Episode title: What are (who?) gonna do? You need to define who you’re referring to. 😀

    • Fixed!

  2. As for the comic, I think Inez has a valid point here, she’s a reporter, not a weightlifter type, so unless they started making it mandatory for reporters to carry around heavy mechanical typewriters again, I reckon she could realistically have great difficulty getting Lou into the car! 😀

    Perhaps Murphy will have something to say later on and the group’s first outing will get evaluated or something but I think there’ll have to be some sort of cohesiveness happening first.

    Inez will, however, face a bit of angst about what she did, and why. Perhaps even get a slap on the wrist! 😀

    • Some good predictions here.

  3. Dave, you raised an interesting question about morality there. How far are we ethically required to go to help others when our own lives are in danger?

    For me you are not ethically required to sacrifice yourself for a single other adult human to whom you are otherwise unrelated. In this case, should Inez be telling the truth, she is ethically clear (except for the thorny issue that Lou only needed rescue because she hit him).

    Of course the calculus changes when you are related to the person, or if the person should be a child. And in my view as the number of people you could save rises your ethical obligation to risk your own self rises as well.

    • I’d tend to agree here, as cold as that sounds.

  4. Using a situation where people are trying to survive to be immoral is just that person letting out their inner bastard. Human decency is not born from society, it is of the individuals choice to be a decent person. To ignore this choice and consider it to be silly unrealistic then there’s a label that fits them perfectly; parasite. They won’t learn how to survive off the land, won’t learn the ways of barter, and just take what they will? They are pretty much parasites.

    • Well said.

      • Also quick little tid bit I noticed on this one. Murphies head should’ve been slightly adjusted to show his mouth a bit more. Just in my head I imagine that and it seems that he’s more… There rather than int he current comic. Or maybe I’m wrong and you already tried it and it looked like he was breaking the 4th wall?

  5. I feel when it comes right down to it, inside we all have the inner bastard. Be it to protect our families, or just our own butts, I don’t think we’re far enough removed from being “uncivilized” wild creatures for anyone to be above doing the douchebag thing to our neighbor because he has food and I or my kids are starving and he won’t share because he’s afraid of starving.

    Unless you’re a Buddhist monk… then I hold you to a higher standard…

    (yes that is a serious comment while trying to be funny… it’s not flame bait for a religious “discussion”)


    • But that doesn’t mean some people are not more capable of controlling the inner bastard than others…

      • Damn straight.

    • I’ve always heard that the average person if five skipped meals away from barbarism. I don’t know how true that is, but it sounds plausible enough to me.

  6. The funny thing about heroic/villainous acts is, the label of Hero or Villain really depends on which side of the act you’re on. That’s why villains who do evil for the heck of it are boring whereas villains who see themselves as the hero of their own story are more interesting.
    Classic example is Magneto from X-Men. Sure, we see him as a villain but that’s because that’s how he’s portrayed in most of the comics. The reality is, his behavior is the result of his desire to protect his people from what he sees as an extinction-level threat by another species. From his perspective, it’s no different than lions killing hyenas in the Serengeti or dolphins fighting off sharks.
    That’s also what makes The Governor from TWD such an intriguing character; he didn’t see what he did as wrong, just doing what he had to do to protect his community. Even when he killed the soldiers, he felt he was eliminating a potential threat as opposed to murdering fellow survivors.

  7. I consider morality on a continuum. Only you know where you fall on that line. Some people keep the law only for fear of the consequences, from either the State or their potential victims. That’s not cowardice so much as weight of risk versus reward. The potential gains of crime are not worth the risk of jail time, or a gunshot wound from a homeowner. I think that these are a lot of the people to which the discussion questions refers. Further, the desperation of living in a the aftermath of a EOTW event will shift many people further down that continuum. The desperation of starvation will cause many people to “release their inner bastard”.

    I don’t think that will happen to everyone, or even to a majority. If observing privation in east Africa and the Indian subcontinent has taught us anything, it’s that not everyone will turn to banditry, even in the face of death. Some will, and many of my preparations address that concern.

    Some will say, “You don’t know what you’ll do when your kids are hungry.” My reply is “You’re right. I don’t know what I will do”. This is the reason I put up so much food, to prolong that event as long as possible. I store food and other needful things to keep my family in a comfortable lifestyle.

    Yes, I plan to thrive in a post-apocalypse, at least as much as anyone can. Did the Ingles family “thrive” in the Little House on the Prairie books? Not by today’s standards; but I think I can hold my family at that standard of living, at least, and better if we can keep some technology. Medicine is the wildcard, naturally. Without modern medicine life becomes much more tenuous.

    If someone plans to be “morally flexible”, he’s already no better than a brigand. One can be the best dad in the world, takes his kids to soccer practice, works nine to five, has a minivan and a mortgage, all of that. If he comes to my house to steal my kids’ food, I will gut shoot him and leave him for the mother-lovin’ rats. That’s just how it goes. Does that demonstrate a “moral flexibility” on my part? That’s for God and history to judge.