Cheap villains are just cheap thrills for cheap violence

Cheap villains are just cheap thrills for cheap violence

I don't dig on vampire shows ... or zombie shows ... and here's why.

zombie.jpg

Disgusting, sure, but not really all that entertaining.

Every major network offers some programme (and often spin-offs of the original) where it's an epic showdown between humans and some mythical beast. Almost all of these programs suck, each for their own reasons. First off:

Zombies

I'm not including iZombie in this list, because it has a radically different concept - namely that society isn't trying to survive violent attacks from zombies. The rest of them though - The Walking Dead, Fear the Walking Dead, the upcoming Z Nation - I'm sorry, I just don't buy it.

The zombies are too slow (or at the very least, slow-witted) to be a real threat. If zombies are attracted to sound, then just put a giant blender at the bottom of a deep, deep hole, and your zombie apocalypse is over, just like that.

See? How am I supposed to be afraid of that?
Photo: Jonathan Wong/SCMP

I get that these shows try to hold up a mirror to society, and people will tell you that zombies are just a metaphor, but please, pick a better metaphor. The only thing zombie shows really do is satisfy blood lust. Most people are too squeamish to tune in regularly to see a show where people get carved up with chainsaws or barbecued with flamethrowers, but with zombies, anything goes. After all, they're a mindless enemy that can only ever be an enemy.

The human dynamics on Walking Dead are interesting enough, but the zombies actually make it worse.

About the only thing worse than that would be if someone actually made something with zombies and vampires together. Oh wait, they already did that. Which brings me to...

 

Vampires

Lame, lame, lame, lame, lame. It's not vampires themselves that is the problem. I mean, what's not to like about a person who stays up late and sleeps all day? But unless the TV series has a cameo from Count Chocula, I don't really wanna see it. 

Now there's a vampire I can get behind.

But it seems that almost every vampire show out there goes something like this: super beautiful / cute vampire boys and girls who are all mopey and whiny about life, and when threatened they suddenly snarl and the camera shakes and their super powers come out on display.

Pictured: Totally not scary vampires.

First off, why should they have super strength and stuff, just because they drink a little human blood? We regular humans are completely full of blood - around five litres of it - so by that logic, we should be tougher than any vampire.

But it's not the whininess or the cheap fight scenes that I hate the most. The problem is that vampires are simply a pure enemy. Because they're just an enemy, we don't have to try to understand them. We don't have to try and consider the world from their perspective. We don't have to get in their minds, or if we do, it's only so that we can kill them more efficiently. It's a fantasy escape from a world where we are told we should try to empathise with our enemies, and not be so quick to lash out in judgment and destruction.

But consider the world from a vampire's perspective for a moment. They live forever. FOREVER. As Prince said, that's a mighty long time. Think of how much smarter you've become in the last 12 years. Now imagine how much smarter you would be in another 1200 years.

To vampires we are here one day and gone the next, born, aging, dead, buzzing about with the relative lifespan of a mosquito ... except of course that they're the mosquitoes since they're trying to suck our blood. But why wouldn't they? How could they not prey on us? It makes total sense, which is why historically writers have made vampires hunt not out of survival or anti-social behaviour, but because they are PURE EVIL. It once again allows us to act out violent murder fantasies guilt-free.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a notable exception here, not because I think it was great TV (I don't), but because it dealt with a lot more issues than just chomping necks. Buffy was a young girl when she discovered her powers, and she goes through the same life problems that girls her age go through, vampire slayers or not.

The villains here were also more multi-dimensional - including Buffy's love interest Angel, the vampire with a heart of gold. (Blech.)

Buffy and Angel proving that opposites attract.

 

Fairy tale creatures

Thankfully, we don't have a lot of shows with unicorns running around but there are a few that are just as bad. Yep, I'm looking at you Grimm and Once Upon a Time, two examples of the TV network philosophy that if something works, then you should just do the exact same thing but slightly different.

Once Upon a Time is the story of a woman who stumbles into a city where no one ever leaves, and everyone has some fairy tale associated past but can't remember it. All your favourite characters are here in modern form, from Snow White to Pinnochio. Which begs the question: why?

I don't mean, why are they here / how did they get there? I mean, why should we care. They've taken interesting fairy tales and turned them into a generic mush of modern soap opera with a touch of impending doom. Yawn. Call me Sleeping Beauty, because this show is making me drowsy.

Grimm on the other hand has a more interesting plot. A cop discovers he's from an old race of monster-hunters known as Grimms. This calling allows him to see "people" as they really are: as straight-up humans, or as animals / creatures who pose as humans. Not all the creature-people are pure evil mind you. Many are petty criminals, reformed crooks, or just a little sleazy. But of course there are capital-E Evil ones, too, and it's Grimm's job to find them.

My issue with Grimm is that the very universe it takes place in doesn't seem as realistic as the special effects they put into the show. Namely, this fact: it is a deep secret that these creature-people (people-creatures?) and Grimms have existed for centuries. But humans are notoriously bad at keeping secrets, especially ones that would be this mindblowing. Somewhere along the line, one of those creatures would spill the beans, or one of the Grimms would have their own reality-TV show. That "ancient" secret would not be secret for long.

The shows I've mentioned in this list represent a lot of things I dislike on TV, but they are definitely not the worst of the worst. I mean, there's always "Reality" shows ... Game shows ...Daytime talk shows ... "Medical" advice shows ...  and more that I haven't even begun to talk about ... but I will.

Stay tuned for more.

Disagree with me because I dissed your favourite show? Leave a comment and let me know. Share this page with your friends, and don't forget to follow me on Twitter @ypsamgus

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1 comment

Edna

22:24pm

Wow this is a good question! I've also been a fan since the Romero clacsiss. The thought of a zombie apocalypse also makes you wonder what you would do in a situation like that. If it came down to the old slow Romero zombies then I think the vampires have the upperhand on the slower moving zombies. Plus vampires have above human strength. I doubt they would bite a zombie since they would turn into ZOMBIE VAMPIRES!! :O I give the the vampires a win due to strength and speed.