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.