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Thunder without rain: Fascist masculinity in AMC’s The Walking Dead

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In this article, I offer a critique of the five seasons of the television series The Walking Dead (TWD) broadcast to date (2010–2015). As the popularity of this show continues to rise, many viewers have demonstrated a willingness to praise TWD without carefully examining its narrative commitments to violence or to attack media critics who point out negative elements at work. My critique contends that the series is decidedly fascistic in nature, and celebratory of fascist masculinity as the key to surviving an apocalyptic situation. I analyse the show through a comparison with the literature of the Freikorps as detailed by Klaus Theweleit’s study of fascism, Male Fantasies ([1977] 1987, [1978] 1989). I examine in detail the prevalence of the ‘soldier male’ in TWD, the limited roles for women, and the representation of the ghoulish undead, drawing upon Theweleit and related scholarship on fascist aesthetics.
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Keywords: Male Fantasies; The Walking Dead; critique; fascism; ghouls; masculinity

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Massachusetts

Publication date: April 1, 2016

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  • Horror Studies intends to serve the international academic community in the humanities and specifically those scholars interested in horror. Exclusively examining horror, this journal will provide interested professionals with an opportunity to read outstanding scholarship from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, including work conceived as interdisciplinary. By expanding the conversation to include specialists concerned with diverse historical periods, varied geography, and a wide variety of expressive media, this journal will inform and stimulate anyone interested in a wider and deeper understanding of horror
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