War permeates most of our modern media, from news to video games. And why not, war is conflict in is most raw sense, a fight for survival that either makes or breaks a character. Yet, all too often the enemy is a faceless horde from Tolkien’s orcs to Card’s buggers to Romero’s zombies. A force that can neither be understood let alone reasoned with.
It’s Them or Us.
But why, in the twenty first century do we go back to this tired trope?
For you see this trope encapsulates the struggle between Us and the Other. We understand our side, of course, those that are like Us, who dress like Us, who speak like Us who think like well…Us. The horde represents the Other, the Outsider, the Alien. A constant threat that must be kept at bay and ultimately destroyed to protect the tribe.
Sounds familiar, no?
The concept of the Evil Horde plays on our tribal instincts to protect what is Ours. The less we know about the enemy, the more alien it becomes and the easier it is to cut down. Morality goes out the window in favor of simple survival. It is that moral simplicity that makes it so attractive. No need to question one’s actions. No need to think of the enemy as nothing more than a target. No moral quandary stand between the hero and his courageous soul.
There is just one tiny little problem with concept, two in fact: first rarely do you encounter a true faceless horde outside of fiction and second it is too easy to become the Other. Second it is too easy to paint anyone we don’t agree with as the faceless Other, as part of horde.