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Army of the Dead not only features a surprising cameo by Sean Spicer, but also points to several pointed allusions to Donald Trump. Here’s why.
What is the reason for that Army of the DeadSubtle (and not-so-subtle) stabs toward Donald Trump and his controversial presidency? In Zack Snyder’s Army of the Dead, the unfortunate transport of a test subject from Area 51 triggers a zombie outbreak in the gambling capital. A military operation successfully holds down the undead horde in Vegas with a wall of shipping containers, and in the absence of a better option, the decision is made to destroy the city with atomic bombs. Residents displaced and potentially infected by the plague have been placed in a quarantine camp just outside the wall and continue to live in poverty for years after containment, risking their lives just to flee.
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Army of the Dead surprises viewers with a highly unexpected cameo from Trump’s short-lived White House press secretary Sean Spicer. On a newscast while Dave Bautista’s Scott Ward prepares for the mission, Spicer describes the refugee camps as a “government sponsored health solution” for which people should be grateful. Presenter Donna Brazile argues that the camps are a political prison for immigrants, gay rights activists and abortion advocates. If the Spicer cameo wasn’t confirmation enough, it is reported that the US President of Army of the Dead described the July 4th atomic bomb as “really cool; the ultimate fireworks show, actually a little patriotic when you think about it”. The casual banality of this line clearly indicates that the President in question is supposed to be Donald Trump, who was still in the Oval Office when Army of the Dead was being filmed.
While these jokes are made at Trump’s expense, they’re not just random barbs – the gags are part of broader social commentary that ties directly into the core themes of Army of the Dead. The fictional wall that surrounds Las Vegas is an allegory for the infamous wall Trump promised to build on the US-Mexico border. This, of course, is not to compare the people of Central and South America to zombies, but to illustrate the social divide that a physical wall creates and how the construction of such a barrier might be interpreted as an ineffective substitute for political diplomacy.
Zack Snyder’s comment on the Trump administration continues with the “quarantine” camps, where families live in misery and are routinely mistreated by guards. The Army of the Dead refugee settlements are a haunting parallel to the very real immigration centers that drew major criticism during Trump’s tenure as president. The Army of the Dead camps reflect the living conditions, treatment of detainees, and the discriminatory attitudes immigrants moving north to the United States face during a presidency that campaigned heavily for anti-immigration values. When Brazile accused Spicer of using the quarantine camps as prisons for immigrants, gay rights activists, or abortion advocates, these are all demographics that Trump has not exactly welcomed, leaving little doubt about the criticism of Snyder.
In interviews with DenOfGeek and APNews, Zack Snyder affirmed that his wall and refugee allegories should hold up a mirror of reality, and it is perhaps fair to say that most viewers took up the comparison. On its own, the Spicer cameo and presidential quote may seem out of place and a little too flashy, but the Army of the Dead social commentary’s attachment to a specific government is there to ground the story in a more realistic setting, which the This increases political criticism. One might also guess that the Mexican wall and immigration centers were such heated topics during Trump’s time in the White House that it makes more sense for Army of the Dead to play into that connection rather than dancing around which president we’re talking about.
It was predictable that some had problems with the presence of political issues in a zombie movie, and especially with the Sean Spicer cameo. But that argument ignores the social parallels in Dawn of the Dead, 28 Days Later, and virtually every other zombie movie you might want to mention. Granted, Army of the Dead‘s comment is far less subtle (it would be hard to use the term “subtext” here), but Zack Snyder also doesn’t slap a political slap without saying something meaningful.
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About the author
(2760 published articles)
Craig first started contributing to Screen Rant in 2016, several years after graduating from college, and has since mostly scolded himself in a darkened room. After previously writing for various sports and music channels, Craig’s interest soon turned to television and film, where a steady education from science fiction and comic books finally found its place. Craig has already been featured on sites like Den of Geek, and after many hours of coffee-soaked hours on a laptop, part-time evening work turned into a full-time career spanning everything from the zombie apocalypse to the Starship Enterprise to the TARDIS. Craig has been involved in breaking news and slightly controversial rankings since joining Screen Rant, but now works primarily as a feature writer. Jim Carrey is Craig’s top actor, and favorite subjects are superheroes, anime, and the unknown genius of the high school musical trilogy.
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