I was struggling for a subject to write about tonight, so I’ve pulled out something that, I admit, is under-researched but which I invite comments on.
In “post-apocalyptic” or “post-cataclysmic” movies and shows (The Road, The Walking Dead for example), why is everyone so badly dressed?
Go with me on this: The Big Event, or the big plague, or the thing that turned everyone into zombies has invariably left a tiny band of survivors – a handful here, a small group there. Over however many series of The Walking Dead I doubt we’ve seen more than a couple of hundred survivors in total, despite the miles our heroes have roamed from Atlanta and across greater Georgia.
Sticking with The Walking Dead, according to a quick query on Google the population of the State of Georgia is currently around 10 million people. Apart from the fact that, given the number of survivors, that’s an awful lot of zombies who haven’t turned up yet, it also means that there are a lot of houses and shops which are untenanted. We also know this, because our survivors go on raids looking for food and then get trapped or narrowly escape on a regular basis.
I can see why they are looking for food – it’s going to be in short supply – but while they’re there why does it never seem to occur to anyone to pick up a couple of clean shirts?
Some of those characters have been wearing the same clothes for five seasons now (and I mean “season” as in “a set of episodes”, not as in “oh, that look is SOOO last season”). Water must be a very scarce resource, so they can’t be doing much washing of clothes. So how come they don’t have a new pair of trousers every day? One run to whatever’s the Georgia equivalent of Marks & Spencer (Macey’s? JC Penney?) and they could stock up on enough clean underwear for a year. It’s not like anyone’s going to stop them.
And shoes! I’m looking at the shoe rack by the front door of our house – myself, my wife and one son at home – and there are 15 pairs of shoes staring back at me (staring…eyes…..laces….. oh, please yourselves). And that’s without the many other pairs dotted here and there around the house – sandals, flip-flops, spare pairs of slippers. Let’s assume a conservative 25 pairs.
Now let’s do a quick calculation. There are roughly 56,000 households (houses, flats, etc) in the town where I live, with a population of 131,000.
Walking Dead survival rate – let’s be generous and assume we’re only dealing with Atlanta, not the rest of Georgia. Atlanta’s population is around 6 million (Wikipedia) and we’ll guess that we’ve seen (to make the calculation easy) 300 survivors in total in the show to date. Assume there are more groups of survivors out there, and that we’ve seen, say 10% of all the survivors in the area, which gives 3,000 survivors total, which is 0.05% of the population (there may be more survivors that we haven’t seen, but there are a lot more zombies too, so we can keep that proportion).
If we apply that 0.05% to my town, that would mean that roughly 70 people would have survived the Terrible Event/plague/disaster. Those 70 people (sticking with the logic) have formed small, scattered survival groups for mutual protection and are hiding out somewhere in the area.
Surrounded by empty houses. 56,000 of them. Each of which contains 25 pairs of shoes.
1,400,000 pairs of shoes (less the 130,930 pairs being worn by the zombies). Between 70 people.
And that’s without counting the shoes in the shops, of which there seem to be between 20 and 30 in our town. Each of which has hundreds more pairs.
Even allowing for the fact that they will come in a variety of sizes and they won’t all fit, that’s a lot of shoes.
Extend that to the rest of the wardrobe – trousers, shirts, dresses, socks, knickers, the rest – and those 70 people should be dressed like peacocks every day of the year.
There’s no excuse for looking bedraggled in the post-apocalyptic world.