Sunday, 26 February 2017

Character Showcase: "Glenn"

For me, "Glenn" was the heart of The Walking Dead.  Not Rick.  Not Darryl. Not Corral Coral Corrin Krull  Katojin  Quetzlcoatl Carl.

Glenn.  Incorruptible, intelligent, dependable Glenn.  Affected by the carnage and ruin around him, but not ruined himself.  Physically young, but wiser than some two or three times his age.  Sensitive, and on occasion smarmy.  Focused and certain in situations where bigger, stronger characters struggle with what's right or wrong.  Hard to ignore.  Easy to take for granted.  More concerned with what's right than what he can get out of a situation, but what's right includes the people closest to him. Devoted not just to the idea of survival, but surviving the right way.

Not the kind of person people write stories about in zombie apocalypse scenarios.  Too often we're subjected to someone the author thinks is "badass".  Give them a signature weapon.  That'll make up for the lack of personality or a character arc.  Maybe give their stupid weapon a name, and thus more character than the person wielding it.

Give Rick the magnum.  Give Darryl the crossbow.  Give Michonne the katana.

What is Glenn's signature weapon? Who fucking cares, that's what.  His identity isn't dependent on a stupid surrogate penis.


This show became such a putrid mess, a decayed mockery of its' former self that I'm actually embarrassed that I ever liked it. If I knew it was going to become this much of a dumpster fire, I wouldn't have bothered.  I kept watching because of characters like Glenn.  How novel, to see an Asian protagonist depicted as thoughtful, skilled and in the case of the character "Maggie" as a beacon of attraction and affection.  Almost like a valid human being, someone whose input is not only deserved but appreciated.  Can you crazy-fucking imagine?

Remember when this show had a diverse cast, and actually valued that? Remember when more than one black guy was allowed to not just exist, but also to be characters, to have shades of complexity and important moments that bring us closer to them?  I don't think AMC really understands how important this was.  I don't think they understand a lot of things.  I don't understand even half of the decisions they've made in the last few years.

When I first started watching this show, I found Glenn appealing because of his youth.  I'm used to being younger than most of the people I've met, so I guess it was comforting to see a story where someone younger and not so macho could still make it in a dangerous world.  It's easy to think that we would be a virtuous person in an apocalypse scenario.  It's another thing to see a character you kind of identify with grow and transcend your expectations.  As the show went on, it dawned on me that Glenn wasn't me; he was the kind of person I'd want to be. Even in a world where everything DIDN'T go completely to shit.

It is so important for even the darkest, grittiest, grossest stories to have that voice. And it's important to not throw it away lightly, as if sensibility is something disposable.  It's not that other characters in The Walking Dead didn't display this, but Glenn was the immediate visual shorthand for that perspective.


This character's end was not where The Walking Dead failed, but it was handled so poorly that it was the point where I officially had enough. His death was pointless, idiotic and weirdly fetishized, and there wasn't anything left to keep watching.  But there was good in The Walking Dead once.  Steven Yeun helped make a great character out of Glenn, and helped give some life to a rancid franchise.

At least he's still got Voltron.

"Could I have a minute alone with the hat?"



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