￼The Walking Dead- Moral Ambiguity and Porn
By Aramis Sartorio (Tommy Pistol)
What is the Walking Dead series really about? In my opinion, moral ambiguity.
(MORAL AMBIGUITY-￼lack of clarity in ethical decision-making. that is, when an issue, situation, or question has moral dimensions or implications, but the decidedly "moral" action to take is unclear, either due to conflicting principles, ethical systems, or situational perspectives)
In the Walking Dead parody, the first feature I both wrote and directed for Burning Angel, I explore that same theme, this time through comedy.
Normally, I do not support shooting someone in the head. Most people may agree with this moral decision. What I found most fascinating and exhilarating about Robert Kirkman’s and AMC’s adaption of The Walking Dead was that put in the shoes of Rick Grimes, and facing a zombie apocalypse with only one way to survive, I may have to change that viewpoint. In the series, Rick faces loss on a very wide margin. He loses his friends, his family, all beliefs he had ever formed- only to find them all again. Only this time, forced with a fresh perspective. I am reminded of the famous quote- “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”- Marcel Proust. I believe this quote serves this essay well.
My choice to have Danny Wylde play the Korean-American character Glenn was two fold- I believe him to be an intelligent actor who can play various roles and I wanted to stay true to the ethnic lineage as created in the series. I felt he could pull off an intelligent young adult, pulled from his family and thrust into a new world where he finds inner strength and manhood. In the field of sexual liberation and exploration that pornography allows- my thought was why not role play? Danny was not cast to stereotype- his make up which did not include tape, just eyeshadow and foundation, was no more offensive than giving a guy playing an inmate fake prison tattoos. Can we ponder how role playing could, in effect shoot down bigot and xenophobic ideologies by allowing one to empathize with something new? Is this not progression over moral ambiguity?
There was an asian actor mentioned in a misleading blog, but he is not Korean. Keni Styles is Thai. To cast him only on the basis of “asian ancestry” would be a tad over- generalizing. Koreans look nothing like Thai folks if you haven’t noticed. At the end of the day, there would still be character role-playing and there may still be sites trying to call me a racist for casting a Thai man with an accent instead of a Korean American with no accent. There would still be uninformed hatred. All that being said, the actor was unavailable at the time shooting.
My condolences for those who have found hurt in my decision to use make up and character role play. This was never my intention. I do respect the questions that have been raised by my choices- for those who would like to explore the racial profiling that Asian actresses undergo, the fetish, exploitation and racism that is found in porn, stemmed from societal taboos, I am open to dialogue. It is the only way we can move forward and expect growth. I think dialogue is the healthiest form of communication for such tender subjects. I would love to see more of it in not only in our industry, but in our community as well.
I do however feel that certain blog writers and readers should do a little research before generalizing and accusing others. To the actress so deeply offended by my casting choice she couldn’t go to work, you should reset your moral compass. There are far worse things happening in this world. Or you can bring me a hung Korean American that can act- I’ll need him for the sequel. If my movie has threatened your idea of ethnic pornographic utopia, I suggest reevaluating your complaints. By turning a blind eye to what is truly hurtful and complaining about the benign, it diminishes the malignant racism that does exist in the world today.
In these very extreme set of events, Rick chooses between protecting himself, his family, his new tribe and his past belief systems. It made me question myself and if I could make those same choices in similar situations. Would I would have the guts to do it? I chose to explore this with comedy and in light of these new questions arising, I say the answer is simple- watch the Walking Dead Parody and decide for yourself what my movie explores. And if it in fact offends anyone. If it offends you, ask yourself why. Am I the one offending you or is it your own perspective? If that’s the case, maybe you need some new eyes. And don’t forget the pie in the face.
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