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By John Tyburski
A little independent horror film is making some big waves already in the political pool before filming has even begun. The New World Horror, an independent feature-length zombie movie set to begin filming this month in Janesville, Wisconsin, will rely on acting and
I discovered the emerging controversy through my social media connection with one of the project’s producers and Director of Photography, Steven Renfro. Renfro was one of my cousin’s roommates in college and an all-round good character: a “good egg” as my folks used to say. We were never particularly close, and we differ on political and world view issues, albeit more so today than back in school. Nevertheless, I have always maintained fondness and great respect for Steve, mainly for his subtle wit, remarkable affability and of course, as a friend of the family. I do not need to agree with Steve on anything in order to value him as a person and support his ambitions and causes, and I certainly support his zombie film endeavor because it stands for just a little bit more than entertainment. It is a form of commentary, and we ought to promote commentary.
Creators of The New World Horror say “it tells the story of eight strangers who find life turned upside down when a demonic virus from hell transforms those at a local Tea Party rally into zombies. It’s Night of the Living Dead-meets-Evil Dead as the survivors band together to fend off the approaching End Times.” So what? Well, the slight poke at the Tea Party has some conservatives upset.
Collin Roth, who writes for the conservative site Right Wisconsin, was among the first to attack the film. He wrote that the film’s Director, Adam Schabow, harbors an “absurd fear” of Americans who hold values consistent with the Tea Party platform. By making this film, Roth thinks that Schabow betrays a “smug disdain” for conservatives. Madison area conservative radio host and commentator Vicki McKenna sounded off on the film, saying, “What a spectacular lack of self-awareness to have left-wingers accuse other people of being brain-dead, brain-eating zombies.” While I appreciate a poetic, well-crafted insult as much as anyone, a few minutes of listening to her show had me thinking of that “smug disdain” that Roth mentioned, and it was not about the creators of the film.
And this brings me to my point. What is wrong with the right, and some would argue the list is infinitely long, is that its vocal majority complains an awful lot and spends an inordinate amount of time being angry and offended. It stands to reason that an individual or collective that prides itself on delivering insults with some real zing should be much less offended and much more impressed by the opposition’s reply in kind. Instead of responding with indignant disturbance, perhaps the right can say, “Hey, good one!” Some witty banter, a little bit of sarcasm, and a will to not only take aim at but fire upon the political opposition accomplishes something that dull, ordinary conversation cannot. As author and mathematician David Berlinski once said in an interview about invective, “It’s invigorating. It forces people to come up with something better.”
Schabow regularly opines on politics at the Wisconsin-based liberal blog site Blogging Blue so it should not be surprising that the film has political overtones. According to a donation page on Indiegogo.com, Schabow is inspired by both a love of the horror film genre and frustration with the political landscape of Wisconsin and the nation as a whole. One thing that sets the nation apart from other nations is our extensive freedom of expression, and Schabow is merely developing a creative outlet for his political dissatisfaction. Not only must we understand that he has a right to do this, but we ought to support his contribution to the national conversation, no matter how much we may agree or disagree with his message. It is to our collective shame that any voice be silenced so let the right not allow itself to be so easily whipped up into a frenzy over a little bit of fun and let us all chill out a bit and enjoy the discussion with a little bit of spice.
Readers can follow the progress of The New World Horror on their Facebook page and at thenewworldhorror.com.