The T-Dog Theory: The Walking Dead and Politics
Let me get started by saying this: “The Walking Dead” blows. It certainly used to be great, but it appears that chimpanzees have gradually replaced humans as principle writers. The season finale was laughably boring and had no sense of pacing or drama. Somehow, the writers managed to make a boring finale episode of a show about people surviving in the apocalypse and engaging in assault rifle and katana fights with each other. Let that sink in. This particular season has been fraught with dead ends, dreadfully slow pace, geographic inconsistencies, awful development of women characters, a poorly defined villain, and as usual, what seemed to be a hard cap on the number of Black characters allowed in the cast. The “Black thing” always bothered me because it has become so obvious and ridiculous, but this morning it occurred to me that the show (maybe accidentally) made some pretty relevant social commentary that I had missed.
Let’s go back to the beginning. Back to when Theodore Douglas, better known as T-Dog, was on the show. When we first met T-Dog, he was struggling along as the silent, stereotypical bald Black strong guy in the group. Despite being in the heart of Atlanta when the zpocalypse hit, somehow T-Dog ends up being one of the only three Black people on the show (maybe the zombie virus came from Popeyes chicken?) But he acquits himself well, being a strong member of the group despite never getting to speak or vote on anything, and is depended upon as a solid member of the core group for two seasons. Then this season happened, and the population of Black folks in TWD universe exploded to like nine (gasp). T-Dog suddenly actually spoke more and contributed more to the group, just before he was killed. But as he died, the T-Dog theory was born.
The T-Dog theory goes as such: there can only be one Black guy in the show, and the more he speaks, the more likely he is to die and be replaced by a quieter Black guy. The more character he develops, the quicker the show universe offs him. It’s quite simple. T-Dog was damn near Martin Luther King in his near-death days compared to his earlier days, and he was quickly killed in a prison (of course). It’s worth noting that the prison had four Black characters at once, three of which died in a two-episode span before the new T-Dog, Oscar, settled in to the group. A stronger, more assertive T-Dog, he is still essentially the same Black guy who is killed before actually doing anything memorable. He was replaced in Sunday’s episode by Tyreese, played by Cutty from the Wire, known from here on as Three-Dog. Where he goes from here is a mystery, but since there is another Black guy who escaped with the Governor, it is almost a certainty that one of them will die and the T-Dog Cycle will begin anew.
There are no Black guys under 200 lbs in the Zombie Apocalypse
That was a pretty long explanation of the T-Dog theory, but I think it’s useful since it’s so applicable to a real-life phenomenon, the Republican Party. Seriously. Coming up with the theory made me immediately think about the Black guys who inhabit Republican spaces. Excluding Colin Powell (who had real influence), famous Black Republican men have all been political T-Dogs: guys looking for more attention who get it on a national stage when they start spreading the token message that “white liberals are more racist than Republicans.” From Michael Steele to Herman Cain to Allen West, we’ve seen quite a few recently, and just like T-Dog, they have all met their demise at the height of their visibility. They all leave the spotlight bitter at their treatment and end up tweeting angrily outside Republican conventions and lampooning themselves on the Daily Show. And just like T-Dog, they are all pretty much entirely interchangeable. Each one has used the talking points of their predecessor, only ramping up the theatricality. Seriously, they’re like Terminator models or versions of Neo in the Matrix.
Enter the latest political T-Dog, universally esteemed neurosurgeon and chief of pediatric neurosurgery at Hopkins, Dr Ben Carson is an unlikely member of this group. He has a much higher profile than previous T-Dogs and is already generally loved among the Black community. He won the Presidential Medal of Freedom and everyone knows a little kid who has been saved by one of his daring procedures. But even though he’s been around for a while, he hasn’t really jumped into the spotlight on either side of the political aisle. He really only started a month or two ago, but he has certainly made up for lost time. Since his speech at the National Prayer Breakfast in February, he has been touted as a 2016 Presidential Candidate, and has announced that he will be quitting surgery in a few months to “pursue other avenues.” Wonder what those might be. Sound familiar?
Carson has stretched and gone out of his way to touch all of the bases required of a perfect Republican T-Dog. He was invited to speak at CPAC, has compared gay marriage to bestiality
, has been endorsed by Rush Limbaugh, and has finally come out to explain how Black Liberals should think for themselves and how White Liberals are racist
. He’s really covered all the bases, and all in a month or so. He’ll be in the mix during early 2016 campaign talk. But we know how this always goes. He’ll speak out loudly, make some waves, call other Black people ignorant, maybe even make the primary, but will be cut down by the Republican establishment as soon as his star is the brightest. Because the Party T-Dog isn’t there for actual policy reasons or leadership, but for keeping up appearances. He’s the “One Black Friend” or the Strategic Negro used to prove diversity and to antagonize Black voters. And at this point, anyone stepping into that role has to know that he’s just a pawn being used up until he’s replaced. Or eaten by zombies. How can we make that happen? How long until Ben Carson is angrily denouncing Republicans on talk shows?
But seriously, how can we ensure that Ben Carson will be eaten by zombies?