Watching the Dead

by Published: Oct 30, 2013

“The Walking Dead” have finally sham­bled into Ferris.

The lack of the cable chan­nel “AMC” has been a long stand­ing com­plaint among Ferris stu­dents liv­ing in the res­i­dence halls. With two of the high­est rated shows on tele­vi­sion — the recently ended “Breaking Bad” and the still-undead “The Walking Dead” — both on AMC, Ferris has seemed behind the times not hav­ing the channel.

This prob­lem was solved this year when Ferris updated their cable pack­age with 16 new chan­nels. AMC is among them, and prob­a­bly not so coin­ci­den­tally, just in time for the pre­miere of the fourth sea­son of “The Walking Dead,” not to men­tion the spin­off series that’s in the works.

The sea­son pre­miere of “The Walking Dead” had a view­ing audi­ence of 16.1 mil­lion, mak­ing it not only the series’ highest-rated episode, but also the high­est rated episode of any show ever aired on basic cable. It also scored an 8.3 in the cov­eted 18–49 age demo. It’s so suc­cess­ful that AMC has a show where peo­ple sim­ply talk about the pre­vi­ous episode — “Talking Dead” — and has ordered a com­pan­ion series.

So nat­u­rally, this begs the ques­tion, “why is this show so damn popular?”

“The Walking Dead,” based on an ongo­ing comic book series from writer Robert Kirkman and artist Charlie Adlard, is about a group of humans try­ing to sur­vive the recent zom­bie apoc­a­lypse. While the tele­vi­sion ver­sion of “The Walking Dead” does take occa­sional cues from the orig­i­nal text, it has sep­a­rated itself to the extent most fans regard the show as its own entity. It has gone on to be far more suc­cess­ful than Kirkman’s series, which is still one of the more suc­cess­ful comics in publication.

The show — which has an unpar­al­leled amount of gore and quasi-cannibalism (zom­bies are still tech­ni­cally humans) — cer­tainly has an over­whelm­ing num­ber of fans. This is fueled by its over-the-top vio­lence and con­sis­tently down­beat tone, which one would think might turn off many viewers.

“I like it because it’s so intense,” said Autumn Ver Strate, a sopho­more in the pre-pharmacy pro­gram and a self-proclaimed avid fan of “The Walking Dead.” “It has so many inter­est­ing twists on what could be a future soci­ety, and I feel like we don’t have a lot of shows like it.”

Ver Strate also men­tioned she rec­og­nizes how over-the-top the show’s vio­lence is, and feels the con­cept of a zom­bie inva­sion is too far-fetched to raise the same eth­i­cal issues as some­thing like the “Grand Theft Auto” videogames.

Ferris stu­dents enrolled in a pop cul­ture class are learn­ing a more psy­cho­log­i­cal approach to the pop­u­lar­ity of zom­bies. According to “Introduction to Pop Culture” pro­fes­sors Randall Groves and Robert Quist, zom­bies come in all shapes and sizes and stem from fears held by cur­rent society.

When zom­bie films were just becom­ing pop­u­lar back in the late 1960s, zom­bies reflected society’s fear of for­eign inva­sion from the likes of Russia, Cuba or any of America’s other Cold War enemies.

Nowadays, although themes of fear of for­eign inva­sion may still be apt, plagues of zom­bies tap more into our fear of med­ical advance­ment and whether or not a zom­bie apoc­a­lypse is at all pos­si­ble. This is why most recent zom­bie media like “The Walking Dead” or “28 Days Later” explain zom­bies as the result of chem­i­cal test­ing or com­mu­ni­ca­ble diseases.

While the fear aspect is cer­tainly a part of why “The Walking Dead” is so pop­u­lar, other fans feel the car­nage the zom­bies cause is sec­ondary to watch­ing the human char­ac­ters inter­act with one another in this wasteland.

“I enjoy ‘The Walking Dead’ because it not only shows an apoc­a­lypse with a ton of zom­bies, but it also focuses on human rela­tion­ships and rebuild­ing soci­ety in their cur­rent sit­u­a­tion,” Caraline Visuri, a senior in the graphic design pro­gram said.

Visuri said while the zom­bies are an inter­est­ing part of the show, it’s the way the humans get along (or how they don’t) that is the most intrigu­ing part of “The Walking Dead.” The show, while it may heav­ily fea­ture zom­bies, also show­cases the inter­ac­tion between peo­ple under stress and speaks on human nature.

With sea­son four just start­ing, it’s anyone’s guess where the plot of “The Walking Dead” will go or just how high those rat­ings will climb. “The Walking Dead” airs Sunday nights at 10 on AMC, and now, at Ferris State University.

  • Samuel

    I’m glad The Torch is post­ing hard hit­ting news like this infor­ma­tive story.

    • Steve Fox

      Seriously, you choose a Lifestyles sec­tion story to write this com­ment on. And one that’s actu­ally part of Ferris life — dorm life and the TV selec­tion and a chan­nel that pro­vides smart con­tent. Not sure what you’re com­par­ing to, but this is a step up from many cam­pus paper “Lifestyle” sec­tion stories.

      • Samuel

        A step up from what? The nonex­is­tent com­mu­nity col­lege papers? It’d be one thing if this was an iso­lated inci­dent, but ALL of the sto­ries in The Torch are use­less fluff.

        Does The Torch send out their advi­sor for all com­ment­ing emer­gen­cies, or just the ones where some­one dis­agrees with the publication?

        • Steve Fox

          I hap­pen to believe you were wrong in your sar­cas­tic crit­i­cism in this case.

          I would encour­age you to take some action. Maybe be part of the solu­tion or help spark some improve­ment:
          1. Write a let­ter to the edi­tor that will be pub­lished with your name. Be crit­i­cal of the paper. Be crit­i­cal of what­ever you want. Criticism is always wel­comed.
          2. Suggest some story ideas. The Lifestyles sec­tion is not hard hit­ting. It’s not sup­posed to be. The News sec­tion, hope­fully, does more hard hit­ting stuff. And I believe it has of late.

          Yes, I’m the edi­to­r­ial adviser to the paper. I will respond on here occa­sion­ally. Especially when I think the com­ments miss the mark.

          Feel free to con­tact myself or Editor in Chief Alex Wittman if you have con­cerns you’d like to express about the paper. Or maybe you’d like to fill out an appli­ca­tion to join the staff — to make the paper better.

          • Samuel

            Ah, there’s the sch­piel. I was won­der­ing when I’d get the “Write a let­ter to our ever help­ful edi­tor” BS. There’s no point, dude. What’s the E-chief gonna do? Whine at them?

            And since you asked so “nicely,” here’s some ideas for you:

            –Recent books (Malala Yousafzai’s book was released just last month. Didn’t hear much about her.)
            –Culture (Contrary to pop­u­lar belief, even non-caucasian peo­ple have lifestyles!)
            –Hobbies (Talk about new ways to spend time aside from Instagram.)

            Those are just the ones I thought up in 5 min­utes for your Lifestyles sec­tion. I won’t even get started on your Opinions sec­tion. That crap is whinier than Tumblr and is work­ing it’s way up to com­pet­ing with LiveJournal.

            But seri­ously, if you need to crowd­source your ideas, no won­der you guys keep com­plain­ing you aren’t get­ting funding.

            • Steve Fox

              Good ideas. Other than the book, which is a fas­ci­nat­ing inter­na­tional story that has been told by many media out­lets, I think you will find sev­eral Torch exam­ples of Lifestyle sto­ries recently about cul­ture, hob­bies and music.

              Please, check out cam­pus news­pa­pers from nearby schools like Grand Valley, CMU and MSU, and let me know. Recently, I’ve read online from their papers about a schol­ar­ship for twerk­ing from CMU, a per­son at MSU dressed in a big­foot cos­tume sell­ing beef jerky and a club that helps with pub­lic speak­ing by doing com­edy at GVSU. Good stuff, but not exactly deep.…

              Keep read­ing. Maybe the Torch will get bet­ter and impress you with some of its report­ing soon.

              And, again, if you want to write a col­umn or a let­ter to the edi­tor, go for it. It’s not always as eas­ily as peo­ple think. In fact, the Torch edi­tors are very recep­tive to sug­ges­tions, includ­ing guest columns (as have been fea­tured recently on some timely polit­i­cal issues).

              • Samuel

                Not exactly deep…? And you are imply­ing that The Torch is? Seriously?

                I must be miss­ing the deep mean­ing behind these:
                Or my per­sonal favorite fail­ure: http://​www​.fsu​torch​.com/​2​0​1​3​/​1​0​/​1​6​/​o​p​i​n​i​o​n​s​/​p​o​w​e​r​l​e​s​s​-​a​n​d​-​p​i​s​s​ed/

                I also like that you just implied that The Torch is deeper than Michigan State University.… No. Just no.

                I also don’t under­stand why you’re telling me that crowd­sourc­ing your arti­cle top­ics is a good thing. What’s the point of hav­ing your own staff if you fre­quently fea­ture things writ­ten by oth­ers? Do you guys actu­ally DO any story research or do you just cruise Facebook for the hot but­ton top­ics and check the Student Government page for events?

                • Steve Fox

                  Newspapers every­where — since before you and I were alive — have been ask­ing read­ers for story ideas. Especially thought­ful com­mu­nity mem­bers. I was hop­ing you fit that category.

                  I’m imply­ing the Torch runs deep con­tent and com­pletely friv­o­lous con­tent every edi­tion. That’s pretty much the stan­dard for­mula for stu­dent news­pa­pers around the country.

                  As for sug­gest­ing better/best/worse regard­ing the Torch and those other uni­ver­si­ties, those are your words. I was sim­ply shar­ing the fact that the range of accept­able stu­dent news­pa­per mate­r­ial is all over the map for the Torch, CM Life, State News and the Lanthorn (close prox­im­ity exam­ples — i could find far more friv­o­lous story exam­ples if I expand my search). None of them is an out­lier in terms of what could be in the paper — as I shared.

                  As for deep sto­ries, we can always pick out exam­ples of good and bad. The Torch can be bet­ter — as I said ear­lier — and I hope it con­tin­ues to get bet­ter. I think that is hap­pen­ing. If it does, you can take credit.

                  Thanks for your time — read­ers are always valued.

                  • Steve Fox

                    Thanks for spurring on my inter­est in what other stu­dent media is doing lately.

                    I check out Western Michigan’s paper, the Herald and found some more fun stuff (not all hard hitting):

                    Opinions top­ics:
                    – Funny Halloween anec­dotes
                    – Top five “not too scary” Halloween movies
                    – A selec­tion of autum­nal albums from Mich artists
                    – A Tigers play­off col­umn
                    – A col­umn urg­ing stu­dents to go to hockey games

                    – Four-foot vol­ley­balls served up in can­cer fundraiser
                    – launch­ing pump­kins
                    – New stu­dent rec cen­ter app
                    – Things to do in Kzoo for the week
                    – WMU week in review

                    – Masquerade ball
                    – Fall fash­ion trends
                    – Monster ball event
                    – Band releases new album

                    These are a few. And I’m not con­demn­ing the Herald. In fact, a for­mer Torch staff is there who is the author of a few of these — and I think she is very thought­ful. But it’s not exactly deep stuff across the board.

                    Which is the trend/style for stu­dent papers around the coun­try, as I said. Thanks for giv­ing me the incen­tive to look into this more. I’m inter­ested in the right bal­ance in stu­dent news­pa­pers, for sure, con­cern­ing hard news vs. fluff.

                    • Samuel

                      Fluff is designed to fill up space if some­one drops an ad. It shouldn’t be what you start with.

                  • Samuel

                    Look, I don’t know how long you’ve been doing the adviser thing, so I’ll give you a lit­tle advice. Pointing to other papers and say­ing “See? They’re ter­ri­ble too. Stop giv­ing us crap!” is not the proper response. Your goal is not to be bet­ter than that other guy. That’s a crappy world­view to have in gen­eral, but I digress. Back to The Torch.

                    The Torch should try improv­ing. I thought that was the whole point of your lit­tle pub­li­ca­tion? Aren’t you the pro­fes­sor of Journalism at FSU? I assumed all those times you can­celled classes for no rea­son (To be fair, this was a female friend of mine, not me) were to work on other pur­suits, like The Torch, but I guess not…

                    This par­tic­u­lar pub­li­ca­tion year has been the worst I’ve ever seen. The lay­outs are awful, the top­ics are shal­low, and The Torch is as much of a ter­ri­ble meme on cam­pus as ever. Your staff needs to review the proper APA style and learn the dif­fer­ence between a printed pub­li­ca­tion and a blog.

                    This response to me is an absurd amount of fluff in and of itself. If you don’t have any­thing to say, I sug­gest you just walk away.

                    P.S. — Don’t try and use the “I’m very dis­ap­pointed in you” argu­ment on me either. I get enough of that from my father, thank you very much.

                    • Steve Fox


                      Interesting things to focus on here. I don’t believe I have yet con­demned any other papers — only pointed out that stu­dent news­pa­pers are full of diverse con­tent that is not always hard hit­ting (your orig­i­nal concern/complaint).

                      I stand behind my teach­ing and the work the stu­dents do on the Torch. With my name attached to my comments.

                      So far this year, the level of con­tent has been mostly very good in my opin­ion. We dis­agree. Please, share your con­cerns in a let­ter so more peo­ple can ben­e­fit and maybe it will get more peo­ple engaged — if the read­er­ship demands more hard-hitting news it will be the oblig­a­tion of the Torch to do more.

                    • Samuel

                      Okay, did you read my response at all? I feel like you didn’t. If you aren’t going to read it, please don’t bother reply­ing. This isn’t a con­test for who gets the last word. I read your paper before com­ment­ing, I feel like you could do me the same courtesy.

                      I get that you want me to write a let­ter. I’ve had sev­eral friends write in and noth­ing hap­pens. Not even a “Thanks for writ­ing, but we won’t be pub­lish­ing this” response. I’ll not bother wast­ing my time. Especially since this is much more public.

                      You should be happy that SOMEONE is com­ment­ing. I don’t know why you waste the Disqus wid­get. This place is usu­ally a ghost town. Except when you post some­thing about Greeks drink­ing (At least your car­toon­ist is fan­tas­tic. He’s too good for this pub­li­ca­tion.) or fail­tas­tic Atheism hatred. You guys were finally on Reddit for both of those.

                      Honestly, I think the fact that the Torch Adviser/Journalism Professor at FSU is respond­ing directly because he CAN’T STAND that some­one thinks their paper is crummy is baf­fling enough. This is ridicu­lous! I com­mented with a sar­cas­tic remark and now I some­how should be giv­ing The Torch ideas and be responded to directly by some­one who should really have no involve­ment at this level? That’s pro­fes­sion­al­ism right there.

                    • Steve Fox

                      I have repeat­edly let you know above that I appre­ci­ate the feedback/comments.

                      I hope you continue.

                      As some­one who believes strongly in the power of jour­nal­ism at many lev­els, I also believe strongly in engage­ment and respon­sive­ness. As well as full dis­clo­sure and transparency.

                      If let­ters to the edi­tor have been sub­mit­ted and not pub­lished, I find that sur­pris­ing and both­er­some. Thank you for point­ing that out.

                    • Samuel

                      My mis­take, I sup­pose this IS a con­test for who gets the last word… Unfortunately for me, I actu­ally have things to do, so I’ll have to pass. Besides, just because some­one has the last com­ment in the thread doesn’t mean they’re right. Really, there are no win­ners here, and that’s the worst part.

                      This is com­pletely point­less any­way, it’s like argu­ing with a spam­bot. I don’t know if com­ment­ing is any bet­ter than send­ing a letter…

                      I still think this is highly unpro­fes­sional behav­ior. Just because you’re writ­ing in full sen­tences doesn’t make it professional.

                    • Guest

                      I’ve read through all of the com­ments bash­ing on the Torch, but despite the efforts there weren’t even any con­struc­tive crit­i­cisms given, just some­one that is afraid to be harsh and not put their name with their opin­ion. All besides Mike Hunt, who only decides to say that the Torch has noth­ing on CMU’s news­pa­per. The Torch is run by Ferris’ stu­dents who put their time and pas­sion into their work, and deserve to be acknowl­edged for it. As another stu­dent pas­sion­ate for writ­ing myself, I think that if you’re at least going to post some­thing harsh, have some­thing con­struc­tive to be said in order to improve on.

                    • Dusti Manning

                      I’ve read through all of the com­ments bash­ing on the Torch, but despite the efforts there weren’t even any con­struc­tive crit­i­cisms given, just some­one that is afraid to be harsh and post their name with their opin­ion. All besides Mike Hunt, who only decides to say that the Torch has noth­ing on CMU’s news­pa­per. The Torch is run by Ferris’ stu­dents who put their time and pas­sion into their work, and deserve to be acknowl­edged for it. As another stu­dent pas­sion­ate for writ­ing myself, I think that if you’re at least going to post some­thing harsh, have some­thing con­struc­tive to be said in order to improve on.

              • Mike Hunt

                CMU’s news­pa­per is so beyond any­thing that the Torch writes. It actu­ally looks like a newspaper.

                • Samuel

                  As some­one who saw their Opinions sec­tion this week, I’d have to agree. Do CMU’s polls add up to 100% too?

            • Guest

              One of the most chal­leng­ing respon­si­bil­i­ties for any news­pa­per
              has always been cater­ing to a mass audi­ence of read­ers with var­i­ous demands of
              their infor­ma­tion sources. Also, look­ing at other news­pa­pers for infor­ma­tion,
              design ideas and even story ideas is con­stantly done by even news­pa­pers on the
              pro­fes­sional level and would be a fan­tas­tic
              exer­cise for The Torch. I would con­sider
              that a great start for any news­pa­per or jour­nal­ist look­ing to expand their
              ideas. I applaud what CMU and The Torch are doing. The Torch has rec­og­nized a
              need of its audi­ence, has addressed it to its read­ers and are work­ing to bet­ter
              them­selves. Honestly, the best way to
              bet­ter the paper would be to invest some per­sonal time in improv­ing it.