Monday, September 17, 2012


“You said you were waiting?” says Caleb. “What were you waiting for, exactly?”
“For the world to fall apart,” Edward says, “And now it has.” 
For those wanting to better understand the stories, worldviews, and messages shaping today's youth, I offer my latest review of trending books, films, and TV shows effecting a YA audience (such as The Hunger Games, Divergent, Graceling, Bitterblue, The Road, The Wolves of Mercy Falls, Spiderman, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Project X, and The Walking Dead).

My goal is not to critique the art form as much as to analyze how the story reflects and shapes the readers' worldview. There will be spoilers.
 Veronica Roth’s Divergent introduced us to a utopia gone terribly wrong. Society has been divided into factions, each focusing on a particular character quality or skill that humanity needs to flourish. Instead of bringing stability and unity, it ushered in pride and division. Tris is one of the Divergent, someone with the capacity to thrive in multiple factions. She and the few others like her have been targeted by those who profit from the broken social structures and fragmented families.

Divergent ended with the beginning of a bloody revolution; Insurgent enters fully into a society at war, and not just between the factions. “The battle we are fighting is against human nature itself – or at least what it has become.’

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Leviathans and Zombies: Social Contracts and the Walking Dead

AMC's  The Walking Dead has provided an interesting (and at times gruesome) venue with which to revisit some of the more significant questions about life.  I have been blogging my way through The Walking Dead and Philosophy, a fascinating book that has so far addressed issues of logic (zombies like the Walkers are not possible) and the nature of humanity (but philosophical zombies are, apparently).

Jason Walker (“What’s Yours Still Isn’t Mine”) addresses the issue of society and human rights in a post-apocalyptic world. The Walkers are humans stripped of what political theorists call a “social contract,” an agreement between the rulers and the ruled. The humans who remain have a choice: head off into the woods and make do with whomever they can find, or head for the nearest city and attempt to recreate some form of government. So far the series has predominantly followed Rick Grimes’ motley crew, but Season Three is going to introduce the audience to the Governor’s horrific city.

Beneath this story line lurk several serious questions:  Do people have rights?  If so, where do we get them?  Are they innate or contrived? And even if they exist and are codified, how are they best enforced?