LEADERSHIP DURING A CRISIS: AN IDEOLOGICAL CRITICISM OF THE WALKING DEAD
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The AMC cable television series The Walking Dead has been massively popular since its premiere in 2010. The series presents a strong leader, Rick Grimes, who leads a group of survivors through a post-apocalyptic world filled with zombies. The purpose of this paper is to analyze Rick’s approaches to crisis leadership and how they serve within the rhetorical process to translate into useful knowledge for audiences. This study examines crisis events Rick and his group encounter at the Centers for Disease Control, on the road after receiving an invitation to join the community at Alexandria, and at Alexandria when faced with a critical threat. During these events, this study reveals Rick’s leadership approaches to be functional at the CDC, situational in the process of joining Alexandria, and transformational when dealing with the threat at Alexandria. These findings address RQ1 and RQ1a. To answer RQ2, this study applies ideological criticism to reveal the functions of the ideologies, finding that The Walking Dead focuses on elements of overcoming difficulties caused by false hope through strong crisis leadership. My analysis also revealed that the functions of the ideologies of The Walking Dead help audiences deal with their fears by trusting in strong leadership.