Love Story of the Zombie Apocalypse: Real-Life Horror in Walking Dead

Yes, folks, there is a thing more dangerous than a feral, brain-munching horde of zombies: A straight white man who swears that he will do everything in his power to save and protect you and your children.

If you didn’t learn this one, primary lesson from five seasons of The Walking Dead, then you might need to go back and rewatch them right quick, ‘cause this is a lesson that isn’t just applicable in the Zombie Apocalypse.

In this week’s epic and appropriately bloody season finale, we got to see this truth played out in spades in the aftermath of Rick officially Losing. His. Damn. Mind after tackling his new lady’s (in his mind only) husband Pete — which spiraled out into the street where they commenced to beat each other to a pulp — until Michonne knocked him out, ostensibly to save him and the townsfolk (and us) from himself.

Oh, and lest I forget the soliloquy that preceded his unconsciousness, which features him waving a gun at onlookers, all about how No one is safe without my protection, and Pete is gonna kill y’all, and You are all children, but I’ma raise you up right to fight the Walkers, and Poppa Daddy Rick’s been stealing some guns for a good day, cause you all don’t understand this mean, flesh-eating world, etc., etc.

All of this is extrapolated and repeated at the end of the finale episode, wherein Rick is effectively “on trial” before Alexandrians and Deanna for these actions. Of course, Pete has to go and live up to Rick and Carol’s ominous warning about him killing someone, and takes out Deanna’s husband in a fit of rage at Rick and his friends, thus prompting the aggrieved Deanna to scream in anguish, Rick. Do it. Do it. And the white male savior acts accordingly, and shoots Pete dead then and there.

I don’t know about you, but this whole escalating series of events did not make me feel so good about the prospects of the White Male Savior Complex actually yielding fruit for Jessie, her son, Alexandrians, or the newcomers.

You may rightly ask, “What is the White Male Savior Complex?” It is a sinister tale dressed up in noble clothing that is told to women (especially white women) every day, everywhere. It will eviscerate your organs, literally or figuratively, in this life or in The Walking Dead, and those of those you love the most, if you pay it any heed. It goes something like this: One day, a great man will come. And he will know the ways of those who would harm you and yours, and he will protect you from them. So that you will not have to worry… or even think for yourself, for that matter.

Need I remind you of another, similarly determined white male savior on The Walking Dead, who was absolutely committed to first, the project of “protecting” his “daughter,” a pint-sized Walker hidden in a nasty back room, and next, to creating a farce of a community which he could control via deceit and brute force? Yes, I am talking about The Governor. Here we have a character who, at the end of the day, I would argue has way too many similarities to Rick.

Yes, the Governor is a terrifying megalomaniac who has the temerity to believe that he can remake the world in his own image, sacrificing anyone and anything that gets in the way of those he holds dear.

By sheer will, as well as by evoking the mythology of white male protection, the Governor convinces the previously logical Andrea to join with him (which honestly made me hate her… Oh, I have been in so many rooms where white women I thought were allies have given up their voice and power faster than the latest sugar substitute, all in a similarly doomed effort to believe in the sad fairy tale of safety whatever white male savior is telling us at the time. It’s really not a coincidence that Michonne, a black woman, did not fall for The Governor’s ish.).

Then, after Michonne and the gang mess him and Woodbury-ites up good, The Governor regroups and convinces yet another eager beaver white female that he will save, serve, and protect them from evil. Little do they know that the real evil is their “privilege” to fully embrace this sick little story. This was why the Governor’s demise by her hand was so satisfying.

Are the Governor and Rick the same?

Of course not.

Are they peddling the same story of white male heteronormative safety in order to build power for themselves?


And this is dangerous.

We’ll have to wait to season six to see what, if any, “fruits” are borne of Rick’s White Male Savior Complex in Alexandria, and what looks like the townsfolk’s begrudging embrace of him.

Me? I would run from him faster than I would from a locked-up truckload of famished Walkers.

7 thoughts on “Love Story of the Zombie Apocalypse: Real-Life Horror in Walking Dead

  1. My friend Jason Sperber shares your TWD posts and I love them! I would offer that, not only does Rick begin to resemble the Governor, but (and this was the bigger correlation in my opinion), Rick has finally caught up to his nemesis Shane in terms of savior complex and “protecting women” through violence and adulterous intent. It was most unsettling that they had Rick go “full Shane” and was, perhaps, an intentional commentary on male savagery and savior complex. So, there you go, my first official comment on someone’s blog post!

    1. Good point. I was thinking he’d gone full Shane at the time. That little speech scared me more than anything else in that episode.

      Oh yeah, two other victims of the White Savior Complex: Daryl ,with his brother (see how he’s grown since moving out from under his brothers shadow), and Carol, with. her abusive husband. Without him she’s fully realized her true self, too.

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who hated Andrea, with a fiery passion, after she met up with the Governor. She just gave up being anybody I could admire after she rolled over for him.

    1. Oh, wow! I hadn’t hought of it like that. I just thought they must not get any PoC volunteers to be zombies. or maybe they just don’t pick them. Atlanta has a huge Black population. so, youd think there would be a lot more Zombies of Color. (Of course the zombies look so yucky now, its sometimes hard to tell.)

  2. A batman comic said it perfectly’ you live long enough to become a villain. What I like in this show, the lines between race and social class disappear when we’re faced with extinction.

  3. Hmm, do they disappear, really? Or are things just happening by default? From where I am perched the white guys are still all on top and the women are all subordinate and so are the men of color. No societies are being led by PoCs or WoCs or Women. (Dawn Lerner was killed off and so was Tovah Feldhuh–Deanna Munroe.)

    1. In the context of things in this world we’re faced with our extinction we have to put aside our differences to live. I

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