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Minority Trope Representation In Amc’s The Walking Dead

2659 words - 11 pages

The Walking Dead is a television show produced by AMC based off the black and white comic books by Robert Kirkman. The show and comic book center around main character Rick Grimes as he learns to cope with life after waking up from a deadly wound into an outbreak of virus wielding undead creatures known as “walkers.” Over the course of season two and season three, the show starts to center around how Rick is able to command the group of survivors and the challenges they face trying to settle down in a safe area. They are confronted with another community nearby late in season three along with the increasing number of walkers in the area. While facing these challenges, the number of surviving members continues to dwindle; however, the minority ratio in the group remains below the average number of majority characters in the show.
The “token minority” trope follows the concept of a minority figure that has little or no significance to the plot line of the story and is placed there for possible racial discussions or as a source of drama later in the film or show (“Token Minority”). So what relation does this have to a larger role in films? Over time, there is a progression of how a minority fits within any genre and if their role is significant enough to help them survive within a group that eventually forms. The third trope minorities, especially blacks, are associated with is the “magical negro.” This is a trope wherein minorities get a chance to prove they are not bad people and can offer powerful insight or prove useful in situations (“Magical Negro”).
Since minorities have gained a more significant role in movies, it begs the question: what happens to them after they become the “magical negro” in the horror genre? Does the minority continue to be the “magical negro,” become demoted to a token minority or are they killed off with another trope? Usually, they are forgotten or killed off and labeled with the “mental occupational hazard” trope. This trope proves that once a minority has served their purpose, they are no longer needed to help the group survive any longer and the main character forgets about the minority (tvtrope.org). These are the main ideas perpetuated in AMC’s thriller television show The Walking Dead. From the very beginning, the show portrayed minorities as nothing more than the “magical negro” helping to further Rick’s survival in the zombie-infested world. As more characters are introduced, the majorities are of the white race with a few exceptions; Morgan, his son, and T-Dog are African-American. They represent a “racial inequality constitutive […] order” while Michonne represents a progressive move toward equality within the group (Hugey, p 544).
Literature Review
Matthew Hughey wrote “Cinethetic Racism: White Redemption and Black Stereotypes in ‘Magical Negro’ Films” in 2009 to dicuss the trend of progressive African-American representation called the magical negro. Hughey examined 26 films to understand race relations...

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