RhetoricLee Speaking

Fake it Till You Make It: Ethos and Code Switching in The Walking Dead

July 28, 2020

Of all the leaders on The Walking Dead, which is a show that takes place in a zombie apocalypse, I would choose the flamboyant, Shakespearean Black man with the giant tiger. Why? Because he, who goes by the name King Ezekiel, is the most rhetorical character. 


When I say that Ezekiel is the most rhetorical character, I mean that he is the most aware that meaning is something that has to be created--that there is no such thing as the “right” belief or the most “authentic” person. There are just different performances of reality and authenticity.


And that’s the focus for today: what does it mean to be a rhetorical character? gonna talk about a word you may have heard around the way: ethos. Why Ezekiel’s rhetorical qualities make him the best leader, especially in a zombie apocalypse. And also my complex thoughts on the cliche:

Fake it till you make it. 

I also push back against this obsession with “who” your leaders are…”who” really is Trump and “who” really is Biden. The habits of a leader give you more than enough information to make a decision. Sure, you can wait for the deep conspiracy theories to be proven right. You can spend all of your time asking about the underlying truths of “who they are.” Or you can just look at their decisions, as a pattern. You can ask, “let’s suppose this is all just one giant act. If this is the leadership act they’ve chosen, are they the person I want as my leader?”


In that case, I would want King Ezekiel, because his behavior reveals who he thinks human beings are: highly imaginative creatures in need of myth and larger than life narrative that inspires them to a community of belonging.


Read the blog version: https://rhetoriclee.com/fake-it-till-you-make-it-king-ezekiel/


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