With the first half of The Walking Dead Season 7 complete, now is the time to start hearing about the complaints the FCC received about the show.
It’s official—the FCC received complaints about the gore and violence of The Walking Dead’s seventh season, with some viewers (I’m not going to refer to them as fans, which I will explain later) making comparisons between the show and a certain Middle East terrorist group.
Refinery 29 reports that the FCC received numerous complaints about how violent The Walking Dead was this season, with the majority of fingers pointing at the season premiere and the depiction of Glenn and Abraham’s deaths. Since the FCC is a governmental agency, the emails from viewers are accessible upon request. They’re quite interesting.
Said one viewer in an email to the FCC: “This would have been rated R or NC-17 in the theater. You don’t show ISIS beheading people on TV, nor should you allow someone to be beaten with a barbed-wire baseball bat.”
Here’s another comment: “The last episode of season 6 and the latest episode of season 7 made me very anxious and sick to my stomach. Watching ISIS behead someone isn’t as horrible as watching this tv [sic] show.”
Yeah. The FCC received emails from viewers comparing the scene with Negan to ISIS. ISIS! Seriously, ISIS.
OK, now that the initial shock of reading those comments has worn off, we need to talk about this. Nothing could be as awful as watching someone be killed—I don’t care about how they were killed. (Incidentally, as I write this I’m watching news coverage of the Russian ambassador who was assassinated today, and watching the exact moment he is shot in the back is chilling. Knowing that this man won’t get up after the director calls “scene” is sobering.) A death in real life is light years from watching a television character die on a show. Watching a beheading in real life—there is no comparison at all. None.
Growing up, my mom allowed me to watch horror movies at a very early age because she liked them and wanted to share the experience with me. Like a good parent, she sat with me and explained that Jaws was a fake shark, and that no matter what happened, the cameraman was always right there. It was all pretend. While that didn’t make the movies any less scary, it did give me vital perspective.
Watching what Negan did was uncomfortable, but it was part of the story and—most importantly—it was all make-believe. At the end of the scene, Steven Yeun and Michael Cudlitz got up and walked away. It’s all make-believe. It’s meant to be gut-wrenching and visceral, but in this case that’s what the story calls for.
Earlier I mentioned that I wasn’t going to refer to the people who wrote to the FCC as fans of The Walking Dead. Fans understand that this is part of the story, and that to sugarcoat the story would weaken the narrative. Showrunners have stayed true to the source material as much as possible when it comes to the graphic violence depicted in the books. Bad things happen in the apocalypse.
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I completely understand and support the opinions of others, but comparing any television show to real life terrorist acts is crossing a line. If you don’t want to see those things, turn away from the television. Sending an email to the FCC comparing a television show to the horrific and unconscionable acts of a terrorist organization is ridiculous and absurd.