I’m not as gushy over The Walking Dead as my hipster contemporaries, but it, and horror movies generally, are an interesting peek behind the Zeitgeist’s curtain (or, these days, up its skirt). In both TWD and its recent spinoff, Fear the Walking Dead, the government is either nonexistent, or a backstabbing group of cowardly sellouts. In Fear the Walking Dead, citizens who might otherwise be a social burden — the (non-zombie) sick, drug addicts, etc. — are rounded up for disposal, but before the liquidations can begin, the army prepares to pull out. And — this is important — they’re thwarted by a few civilians and a bunch of walking corpses before they can even do that. Think about the implications for a sec: The world’s premier fighting force, and they can’t handle an old man, a school counselor, and a bunch of literally brainless corpses.
The lesson of both Walking Dead series couldn’t be clearer — when the shit hits the fan, you’re on your own. Your government — whose #1 job is the protection of its citizens — will be useless at best, an active hindrance at worst. The first season of the original Walking Dead even has a scene where a scientist at the CDC in Atlanta mentions that the French were close to a cure for the zombie plague. The French! Meanwhile, every American scientist, with the sole exception of Exposition Man, has “opted out.” Even the hipsters who make up 99% of AMC’s viewing audience, in other words, expect zilch from their government (and note that TWD premiered in 2010, i.e. right in the middle of America’s slobbering honeymoon with Obama).
Zilch is by now the default expectation, and I suspect it would have been equally so had John Servile McCain somehow been wafted into the White House; the only conclusion I expect to be entertaining after 2016 is that we don’t get hit by enough asteroids.