This is what The Walking Dead series taught me about evil, armies, soldiers, and their blind loyalty to the leader.
Warning: spoiler alert.
I just finished watching the third season of the popular tv series “The Waking Dead”. I know; a little too late, as the actual fifth season has just aired. I’m catching up.
I want to talk about the blind devotion of hitmen for the character called “the Governor“. How a set of abilities, charisma, assertiveness, perhaps aggressiveness at some point too… have mixed to form a person who hitmen follow without question.
Also: those hitmen have a particular set of mind: 1) not necessarily fully, from head to feet evil, 2) they like the privileges of being “in charge”, even if it’s not on the top of the pyramid (rank); because 3) they themselves couldn’t handle or lack the charisma or other abilities for being the “supreme leader”.
And let’s face it: a little (or a lot) of “stretching the truth”, as he himself called it, was needed from the governor. And that is also a part of my point, which I’ll explain in a few.
I am considering, as it is obvious from the plot, the group of hitmen in The Walking Dead, an evil one.
For the purpose of the point I want to make, I’ll make a comparison. Let’s say for example: Lord of the Rings. The bad guys, at least most of them look like 100% evil. The ordinary soldier, the private (orcs), they’re not driven by the charisma of their leader, perhaps fear, but they are evil at heart. Ugly and evil, though submissive, too.
That doesn’t seem too credible, right? I know it’s a fantasy story, but I like my fiction with easier to believe plots, more realistic.
Let’s look at another case: Star Wars. In this case, the bad guys are also faceless: we don’t get to know the stories of common troopers (are the clones able to think for themselves? That’s a story for another post); why are they there? do they believe in the empire? do they think they are being “good”, or doing “right by the people”? are they all summed in fear? They don’t look like the orcs, full-evil-jacketed.
I, until yesterday, found that a bit harder to explain, though more believable than the orc story counterpart.
In real life
So in real life, armies are not made of pure evil creatures. Every person must surely have his own causes. Perhaps co-opted by threats, or in economic need, or, the one I am trying to discuss: brain washed by skillful leaders.
Then, if you are the lead of a party, so big that spans a whole nation, lots of resources available, you may find that it may be easy to find great numbers willing to join a cause, for the right price – even if that price is just a concept, belief, idea or mindset.
But indeed the leader must posses, in order for things to be kept under control, charisma, in excess. He must be so eloquent as to be capable of driving the masses towards his goals.
My actual point is this: I used to think that a plot in a fiction story is weak if the good guys are 100% good, pure of heart while the bad guys are 100% evil. I actually still do. People in real life have a long range of diverse emotions, very often, if not the whole time, in conflict.
I also used to think that armies of frantic orcs are unrealistic, because how could they all be evil at heart? Born that way, 100% of them. I still think so, even for a fiction plot, it’s hard to buy.
LOL, then what has actually changed?
Now I find it easier to believe, that an army could stand by the side of a leader, so charismatic (and/or liar), that they’d be willing to risk and sacrifice their lives for the cause. Even if that cause is on the “wrong side of history”, as defined by current (as in: when and where you acknowledge it) socially-accepted, politically-correct paradigms.
So I understand better now the soldiers in Star Wars, or the hitmen in The Walking Dead.
Because, that’s what actually happens in real life! Whole nations, at war, each side defending their beliefs, their religion, their territory, their homeland security, their access to oil… Armies made of people, humans, that once set their mind to that fixed position, so drunk in passion and fanaticism that no thing on this universe could ever make them stop and step back to, at least, try to understand a broader approach.