|In September it looks like all the girls got back together for some more cutting edge art!|
|In September it looks like all the girls got back together for some more cutting edge art!|
A few weeks ago I wrote a review of Fear The Walking Dead. At that time, I tried to limit the scope of the discussion without going heavily into the military aspects of the show. The main reason for this was because the main point of the article was the artistic merits of the show and the military was only one aspect of many. I realized at the time that the military role in a zombie apocalypse could easily fill a book and, even with this article, I don’t have that much space to cover it all. One long paragraph after another tends to discourage people from reading what you have to say and, as an author, you are usually trying to figure out how to express yourself in an inviting way. With such a subject, there are so many points, so many things that others can add, so much material that you don’t have space to cover, and just a lot of opinions that it makes many writers shy away from it. I’ll stick to some of the big problems with this scenario.
First, the zombie apocalypse has to be qualified and for some very fundamental reasons. The main one is that if your military succeeds in stopping the undead then you don’t have a story, so, most writers have to figure out how that happens. This is where most of them fail, can’t figure it out, and just say, “fuck it, I’ll move my story to the point where the military is gone.” The second reason is because there are different kinds of zombie scenario’s but, the two basic ones are the “only bites spread it,” and “every recent dead body wakes up.” Each scenario comes with it’s own set of rules. Last but not least, the single biggest factor is not with the zombies or the make believe world. It is with the entire genre itself. You have to remember that the zombie plague grew directly out of the Vietnam War era.
The only writer who has attempted to take on the military side of zombies, in any really meaningful way, and has been popular, is Max Brooks who wrote the Zombie Survival Guide and World War Z. His answer to what is a major problem with the entire scenario, that of the military being able to mow down hordes of zombies with little trouble, was actually a very common problem that some militaries have suffered from over the ages, that being the habit of trying to fight the current war like it was the last one. Brooks gets kudo’s for this and mainly because this is not a pop culture answer to the problem and shows that he’s actually done some homework. It is also, like so many others, not a likely scenario even if, in my opinion, it’s one of the better ones out there.
Brooks is, unfortunately, about the only guy who has written on the subject and actually done so from the point of view of a strategist. Most, just like Fear, have gone the George Romero route and followed the Vietnam mentality that the military is not capable of winning any war and a bad thing to have around, period, even when you need hordes of monsters to kill. When taken with the current crop of action movies, and Hollywood’s feeble attempt at making a new crop of anti war films, the main problem is seen here. Most screen writers really don’t have a clue about the military. They are completely immersed in pop culture and cable news, both of whom tend to get everything wrong.
Oddly enough, the most practical approach to the spread of zombies came from the remake of Dawn of the Dead. It was a “spread by bite only” scenario and the zombies were both fast and physically formidable. Yet it was not the zombies individual capabilities that made it so. It was the sheer speed of the spread that made it a nightmare scenario. Like any other human endeavor, militaries require time to mobilize and meet threats. In Dawn, they didn’t have that time. They did what they could, and due to the fact that the spread out ran the pace of information, they were actually making the situation worse. They were creating safe zones and bringing in the wounded, who would then, turn zombie and make their safe zones, well, not safe.
The beauty of this scenario is that it did not require an uncaring, incompetent, or antagonistic military. In fact, the military failed here for a very viable reason that most militaries endeavor to avoid in a real war. Due to the speed of the crisis, the military was left reacting to the situation. Even better known than the “don’t fight the last war” rule, another is that the only way you can win a war is be proactive and make the other guy fight on your terms and your ground. If you are constantly reacting to what the enemy is doing then you will remain on the defense and Napoleon was quite right when he said, “the inevitable conclusion to defense is defeat.”
Unfortunately, the major weakness to the Dawn scenario is that it is very unlikely to ever get that far to start with. Our biggest defense there is not the military but, organizations like the Centers for Disease Control who are used to looking for pathogens that require a microscope to see. When your pathogen is a mobile corpse, it makes their job rather trivial and such an outbreak easy to stop. That leaves the more popular scenario, the Romero one, where everyone who dies after a certain point comes back to life. This would present a major challenge to not just the military but, society in general. What our current crop of writers miss, who like portraying the military in an antagonistic light, is that our military is a reflection of society. There is a military term for this kind of scenario and it is called a, war of attrition. It’s another situation that militaries prefer to avoid.
With the Romero scenario, the classic original zombie apocalypse, the problem of winning or loosing really doesn’t even fall on the military. If you will pardon the pun, the real key to winning or loosing this kind of war would be the burden of society learning to live with the problem. If you look at Night of the Living Dead and the original Dawn, that’s exactly what the movies were about. Neither really even covered the military aspects and, probably, wisely so. Of course, Romero is most definitely a cynic and his verdict was that society would not. That is a good question but, not the point here.
What Romero did get right is that the military is largely sub servant to the political leadership in most societies. While there have been some instances of the military actually running things, most of the time what you get in the modern world is the political dressing up to look military. Despite popular opinion, putting on a uniform does not make one military. A good case in point would be the Nazi’s who loved fancy uniforms and, as a result, made uniformly bad military decisions because they blurred the line between the political and the professional warrior.
Despite the fact that the US has had a professional military since 1975, the American traditions of the largely militia based defense still run strong. The resulting attitudes are a strange mix of both class of military and the US war machine shows this in all aspects of it’s existence. What this means for us is that the military does not get a say in what it is ordered to do. It simply salutes and goes and does the best it can. The results of this system is not so surprising but, the pop culture interpretation of this is. That is mainly because pop culture usually gets things backwards.
What goes largely unnoticed by people outside the military, who only get to see warriors stubbornly clinging to traditions that seem out dated, is that most successful militaries (and the US definitely has one) have to be adaptable by their very nature. This kind of thing goes on out of view of the general public and the military itself is largely the reason why. For one thing you have to remember that the military’s primary function is not to report what they are doing, it’s to blow shit up. The other reason is because nearly every mission is yet another exercise in adaptability and if you are not directly involved then it’s pretty easy to get left behind. This is not the kind of thing that gets reported on the news because it’s, well, a huge story and that goes back to why most people don’t write on the subject of this article. When you throw in the blur between military and political outcomes, it’s no wonder most people really don’t get at the core of many wars while they are going on.
That brings us right back to the Romero Zombie Scenario. Such a thing would most definitely be a crisis but, it would also be as slow as the zombies in Night. The military would have time to mobilize, it would have time to change, and it would be entirely dependent on social factors. Society itself would have to militarize and I think most people would not be so quick to condemn the very people who keep them safe. That is particularly true when those people are your own family and neighbors. Again, contrary to popular opinion, there are not only insufficient troops in the American military to clamp down on the civil population of the US, there aren’t enough troops on planet Earth to do it. That is, of course, if that population is hostile to the occupiers.
In a war of attrition scenario, the very structure of the military would have to change and, there would be time. Professional, hard hitting, ‘shock and awe’ warriors would be an expensive luxury. They would not go away because you always need formations like that but, the real war would have to be fought by militia’s who can utilize the one thing they have going for them, home field advantage. That means taking a group of armed civilians and instilling on them a rudimentary command structure so that they cross the line from mob to militarily useful.
Taking these kinds of steps would instill a culture that is probably similar to that of the Second World War. Ironically, it would most definitely not be the Vietnam flower child mentality that gave birth to the genre in the first place. Unlike the writers of Fear, I think most people have enough common sense to realize when they are in danger and that having a heavily armed group of guys around, to kill the monsters trying to eat you, is not such a bad idea. That is particularly true if all those warriors are people you know and, in such a scenario, it would have to be. Again, the military is not large enough to guard camps, fight pitched battles, and sweep area’s like what is shown in Fear. They would have no choice but send advisors and guns to these camps so that they could defend themselves. It would be something that the camps should be easily capable of and, that is particularly true if you have a reaction force that can show up and handle a threat that gets out of hand.
This is where the current crop of writers completely blow it. They miss the one thing that would cause a collapse and, strangely enough, it’s the one that always does in real world scenarios. Above all else, war is an exercise in logistics. History has shown that, nine times out of ten, the guy who wins is the one who can feed, cloth, and arm a large body of men for the longest amount of time. I might also add that getting those supplies to your army, in any location, is essential. The US military is not currently powerful because it has tanks and bombers. It is powerful because it can put troops anywhere on planet Earth and maintain the stream of supplies required for them to fight. The euphemism for that is called ‘force projection’ and currently, the US is the only military that has that kind of capability.
What does this means in a zombie scenario? Well the Achilles Heal is not the cutting edge of the sword. As history has shown, it never is and those who have tried to take down their enemy by attempting to destroy the enemy army, one man at a time, have mostly only destroyed themselves in the process. Most armies go after the other guys logistics. Once that is gone his army simply evaporates. If society is being pressured from within, something a Zombie Apocalypse would definitely do, then the biggest danger would be from a logistical collapse caused not just by a drain on supplies, but also, on skilled labor. Again, that would not be a contest decided by the military. It would also be a long and slow collapse which, ironically, the professional soldiers would probably be the last to be effected.
Militaries, due to the very nature of their job, generally have to maximize the efficiency of their supplies. If it were a contest, the military would easily outpace any civilian equivalents in the how they use and distribute their resources. Oddly enough, this means that if the civil government collapsed, if society in general collapsed, the military would probably be the last remaining segment of society to hold on.
It has been often noted that war is an exercise in illogic. That is true if you only view it on the surface and do not look into why these things seem illogical. An example would be if you, as an individual, run away from a battle then your individual chances of survival drastically increase but, only at the start. If enough people follow your example then the army collapses and, guess what, suddenly your chances of survival not only decrease but, they become quite horrid. That means your best chance of surviving a battle is to do dangerous things. It is not so much illogical as it is a situation of the lesser of two evils.
This example also equally applies to the zombie apocalypse. People have spent decades speculating about the safest place to be and what plan would ensure ones best chance at survival. We have all heard this speculation and it covers everything from taking over a shopping mall to hiding out in a cave. When one logically looks at the problem, again, with a great sense of irony, the safest place to be is right on the front line.
Welcome to Bmovievillain's Cliffhangers on Deviant Art. This is where I display most of my works that relate to really bad movies with villains, hero's, and damsels in distress. Everything here is original as this is more a homage to the genre than any specific film. The pictures you see here are called renders. I create them using computer programs, such as Poser, Daz, and a few others. They are not manipulations or photoshops. I create virtual 3 Dimensional models out of wire frame polygons, paint them, and then "snap a picture" of the scene I have created in the virtual computer world. That's what a render is. The models you see here are mostly of real people that I have recreated virtually by free hand and a good old fashioned eye ball. |
This page is not for the faint of heart. If you are a minor, are offended by nudity, violence, or computer art then don't bother. If you think that danger and adventure are fun and sexy, then this is page is most likely for you. You can also find a variety of stories here. Most fit into the B Movie genre although a few do not. There is always new material here along with many of my classic pictures from my yahoo days. There is an extensive library so, I hope you enjoy!