Episode 695: Foot Down

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Zombie Cliche Lookout: Parental Rule

While the zombie apocalypse is definitely going to make a lot of changes to the way that society is structured and radically upset traditional power dynamics, some things never change. Certain people tend to just have authority baked right into their personalities. This is why police officers and soldiers often end up in leadership positions in zombie stories, They’re used to structure and direction, and people naturally seek that out in times of crisis. In these stories the police officers and soldiers are usually pretty competent and even handed, but that’s not always the case.

Parents will likely have a similar cachet, at least in terms of the immediate or even extended family. This is especially true where the parent and child have a close relationship, or if there is any sense of dependence between the two adults. That dependence can go either way too. Even if the parent is the one who needs the adult child to care for them, they’ll likely still exert a great deal of control over their child.

About this Episode

I know it doesn’t really come across in print, but I really wanted Tara’s single line in this episode to come across as super whiny and undignified. It’s not that I don’t like the character – quite the opposite in point of fact – it’s just that I find the notion of an adult whining like a child, especially in time of crisis, absolutely hilarious. Just a little peek into my psyche for those playing along at home.

Discussion Question: Power Dynamics and Zombies

Building on the cliche lookout above, what other sort of interesting power dynamics do you see coming out of a zombie survival situation? I think this could also build on a previous episode in which we discussed the nature of sexual power imbalance and how that can change outside of our modern, relatively secure civilization.

14 thoughts on “Episode 695: Foot Down”

  1. Typo alerts:

    Mouseover text: “now go cut me a switch” I think Dave means s’wich, I don’t know about you but since this place has working lighting and it’s very well lit lighting, I’m going to say they have a generator out back somewhere. 😀 Cutting him a switch would probably electrocute Tara! 😀

    “some thing never change” thing–>things 😉

    “natural of sexual power imbalance” natural–>nature 😀

    There was somewhere that could have used a hyphen, but I’ll let it go since it seems to fit quite well as is. 😀

    • “Cut me a switch” is an idiom. It’s something parents used to tell their kids in the US, and means “Go get me a thin stick to spank you with.”

      Fixed the others. Thanks!

  2. Here’s a Discussion Question I bet Dave would’ve never thought of: If you were casting the characters in voice acting roles using a script that plays out closely to the current plot of BotD, who would you pick for which voice, and why? 😀

    Please don’t post answers here, save ’em for Wednesday, as I want you to do some research between now and then because I think this one is a gem! 😉

    • Nice one!

  3. As for the comic itself it’s kind of hard to tell if it carries across completely, mainly because Tara only has one expression on her face. If Dave was to revisit Tara at a future date, I’d suggest he do a makeover of her head, and pick one out that has some expressions that can be used in different ways, or that has multiple heads that closely resemble each other, all with differing expressions! 😀

    • I agree with BrickVoid on this one. This is were the expressions may hinder us. It’s nice to hear you talking about the inner voice you hear when writing for one of the characters. When I read the “dad” in the third panel I heard a short “dad”…. sad voice with a question-mark and exclamationpoint and the dad fades out in sadness (I just don’t know how to describe it more accurately)…. it gave me a sad feeling.
      I would write whiny something like: “Dhaa-haaad!”… well, maybe 😉

      • I’ve had to do that a few times. I really like her face, but that single expression really limits me. It’s a damn shame.

  4. Depending on how big your group is and how successful you will most likely see a power dynamic of the extended family come into play. The Walking Dead presents a group which is constantly changing and moving. I do not think most will do that. They will stay in place as growing and harvesting food will be necessary. Also defending against zeds and other groups is easier in a fortified place.
    If you are staying put then you are going to find your life partners among that group. Since groups will survive better than individuals and those groups will probably be related to each other than once they start marrying a clan structure of extended families.

    • “The Walking Dead presents a group which is constantly changing and moving. I do not think most will do that. ”

      I couldn’t agree more. TWD has to keep thing very dynamic to keep watchers interested, which is a big factor.

  5. Things will become a strict meritocracy, with an unhealthy dose of “might makes right” (i.e. armed mobs) practically overnight.

    There will be many who will try to maintain their previous leadership positions, but “I was a mayor” or “I’m a professor” and even “I’m a cop” take a back seat to “Did you put food on our campfire just now?” “Did you get the water/power/gas flowing again?” “Did your ideas and actions in the heat of the moment save us all from that armed band of marauders this morning?”

    People will realize just how much fluff and bloat there is in the machine of our civilization pretty quick. The blowhard to keeps getting elected to your town council because he runs unopposed ceases to be a tolerable annoyance who occasionally does financially costly things and starts to be a liability who could get everyone killed. One’s resume will no longer matter, as everything will henceforth be a performance test with actual outcomes (not intentions or theoretical merits) being the only thing that matters.

    We saw this settling of a dynamic play out in the first season of TWD, but we can also see it play out in the first few episodes of Lost.

    That’s not to say that only good people will be filtered to the top — after all, The Governor met all those conditions before we met him. It’s also not to say that once a person proves him or herself worthy of leadership there will be no further challengers. One big mistake, or a plan that goes awry, or a new challenge for which the old leader is unprepared and cannot quickly enough adapt can all breach community trust and confidence and leave an opening for a challenger.

  6. That’s one thing even the end of the world won’t change. Parents acting like parents and kids acting like kids no matter if they’re both adults.

  7. I believe the tern ‘and the land fell to banditry’ would apply.

    It would be a gradual process I would think. While my faith in humanity is shot, the majority of people usually pull together in a crises.


    Month 1: (based on my own opinion and guess work of course)

    People looo to normal authority figures for leadership. Town leaders, military, police, as we are trained to do in an emergancy. As is propper to do in an emergancy. People still view the government as in control.

    3 months:

    By now any non perishable food has been scavanged. Stores have been looted for supplies and even if they did have something left to loot it probibly wouldnt be good for you.

    People congregate around farms and other shelters that can grow food, have clean water, and can defend themselves against zombies. People out side these communities are left to scavange for supplies and band together. Bandity is a real threat but limited to smaller groups taking advantage of those they come across.

    The government is still viewed as in control…somewhere. Just not here but eventually they will come. People still look to athority figures for leadership.

    Month 6:

    People out side communities have learned to band together if only to increase their survivability as Bandits. The only places left to get food are fishing, hunting, gathering natural fruits and veggies.

    Cities are deserted because cutting through a hive of undead zombies would outweigh any reward you find there.

    Small communities grow as people learn to adapt to the situation at hand. Athority figures are either A. Still reconized because they have helped keep people alive, B. Disposed of peacefully or un peacefully because they were in effective.

    The government is no longer viewed in control except by places where the military actually is in control.

    Year 1.

    The government is no longer viewed as in control. Clashes against bandits are normal. Those who can still make or recycle bullets, powder and guns have an advantage.

    By now people are trying to reach out to other communities to establish trade. Bandity remains a constant threat but after a year of surviving in the wild they vary from a few large groups of mauraders, or small groups of thieves and out laws cast out of villages.

    Sociaty begins to rebuild. Zombies are looked at as a managable threat now, like west nile.

    Then the aliens invade.

    • Marginally managavle as west nile I should say >.> ok, bad example xD

    • Man! Those darn aliens! Every time… lol