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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Toward an ideology of monsters

Just now, I read an interesting quasi-Marxist interpretation of our classic monsters. In this theory, each ghoul belongs to its own class.

The vampire: Typically, he is portrayed as an aristocrat of the old school -- the very old school. Highly intelligent, he knows multiple languages. He also knows history, having lived though much of it. He is cultured and always charming. He lives by exploiting others.

The werewolf: This is your basic working class beast. Uncontrollable, unleashable. A creature of the Id. On occasion, he may recall what it was like to be human -- but more often, he lives in the moment. His is a dog-eat-dog world.

The zombie: A.K.A., the lumpenprole. Unthinking, shambling, hideous, not really alive, and (unlike the previous two monsters) utterly asexual, the zombie knows only one thing: He's hungry. Nobody minds if he is killed.

The methods of dispatch are of interest. The werewolf may be killed only by silver, a symbol of the upper class. The vampire may be killed or repelled by wood, by garlic or by sunlight -- all things which we associate with the working class. (Traditionally, the worker eats garlic, toils in the sun and uses wooden implements.)

Zombies may be killed by any method, the messier the better. Alas, they can't be killed fast enough, since this society keeps producing more and more zombies. Zombies were rare in our culture in the days before neo-liberalism displaced the Keynesian consensus.

Now that we have established the rules of our game, let's take it further. Assign a class identity to the following:

Demons (a la The Exorcist)
City-stompers (a la Godzilla, Cloverfield)
Invading aliens
Demons-- the 1%.
Didn't Adam and Eve ride Godzilla from the Garden of Eden after their eviction for trying to get smart?

He comes to punish us for using science for evil, either that or for designing the Edsel.
Howard: One problem with that Democratic/Republican vampire/zombie correlation is that zombies have changed over the years. The eerie undead zombies of Val Lewton's famous film would bore a modern audience. The repulsive flesh eaters invented by George Romero have redefined the term "zombie" -- all that word is never actually mentioned in "Night of the Living Dead."

(Interesting question: Does the Frankenstein monster as an original-definition zombie?)

So I guess you could say that the modern cannibalistic zombie was born during the last year of the LBJ administration. As near as I can tell, the next film to feature "new" zombies was "Let Sleeping Corpses Lie," produced in 1974. But that was an Italian/Spanish production set in the U.K. -- so would it be in any way fair to connect in to the Ford administration?

(Incidentally, the '74 film starred Christina Galbo, perhaps my favorite Bernadette. I'm shameless in working in those references, aren't I?)

For what it is worth, I much prefer vampires. Basically, what I really, really like are Dracula movies with gothy girls in filmy white gowns. Jerri Ryan in Dracula 2000 was pretty much the high point of the entire genre; it's all been downhill from there.
FYI: Romero-style zombies cannot be stopped any old way. They have to be killed with a shot to the head.
Zombies are killed by destroying their heads. Get it?
lol, you forgot men hating feminists who dare you to say they are men haters.
omg, yes, zombies have been reinvented in recent years! Check out "Fido." Love that movie!

As for the game:

mummies = royalty

witches = women, the ever-threatening feminine evil

man-made monsters, such as Frankenstein = the scientific community, and the evils of progress :)

ghosts maybe = unbelievers, as they reject the afterlife that is waiting for those who "accept" the light

demons definitely = corporate class, preying on humans...I'm not fond of animated tv series, but there was one that portrayed this very cleverly
clarification, re demons...I was thinking Satan's minions walking the earth and causing mischief and misery, not the evil spirits that possess others' bodies

as for aliens, it's interesting to note that before the "little green men from mars" and space ship sightings were sightings of fairies and elves. I think these other-humanoids all fall into the same need/niche in the human psyche... I think they represent natural selection and evolution. Anything too far back or too far forward in the chain is horrifying to us. eg, HG Wells' Time Machine, and the classic film The Body Snatchers.
if some women are witches, than men are???

Warlocks doesn't work, its never used.
So I started checking out synonyms of the male equivalent of witch, (besides warlock). Other than necromancer (who uses that???), none of them sound that bad.

However, there are other witchy words that are not so nice, such as she-devil and shrew.

On the other hand, men are associated with vampires, frankenstein, werewolves, and ???
Here's your list...
Mummies (not really a danger most of the time)
Ghosts (can be male or female)
Witches (female)
Demons (a la The Exorcist) (male or female)
City-stompers (a la Godzilla, Cloverfield)
Invading aliens

City Stompers still get the girl, (King Kong, Mighty Joe Young???)

The words for men in the witchcraft world are cooler than for women, sorcerer (although there is sorceress) magician, warlock, wizard.

Maybe these are more complementary towards women...medium, fortune teller, sorceress, enchantress.

and of course, witch doctor would probably be seen as "bad" for men. So, I guess it's not quite as bad as I first thought.
Aliens = the "other", that which is unfamiliar, foreigners. The enemy-alien.

Demons = Slavery, those who wish to "possess" you and force you to do their bidding
(to your own detriment and their evil advantage). When you're "done with", for whatever
reason, they then move on and possess others who are "open" to possession. Exorcism = by
definition = freedom from slavery.

Witches = the scapegoat. The vulnerable in society on to whom others project their own
evil in an attemt at hopefully distracting others from seeing it within them.
The deluded denial of one's own darkness, capacity for evil. Witches are usually burnt
at the stake (preferable), but also occasionally hung.

Ghosts = Fleeting, disruptive, disturbing, memories.

Mummies = a "higher class" (!) of Zombie. All the more terrifying because of their
"obscurity" due to the use of bandages, wrappings. A futile attempt at hanging on to
the past. An attempt at preserving that which is dead, obscure, no longer of use
or relevance = royalty !?

Vampire = sucking the life out of others, a draining presence. Feeding off others
lives. Unwanted penetration of another person's body, sexual assault, thus causing
the other to be as oneself (the Vampire), propogating the cycle of victim seeking
resolution by repeating the act - when a Vampire "bites" you, then you also become
a Vampire. Also, contagious disease spread via the blood? The paranoid fear
of the "Chosen People" and the "Master Race" (so similar) of having the bloodline
degraded and poisoned by the "exotic foreigner" (see "Alien" above).

Zombie = seeming alive, but brain-dead; the presence of unthinking morons and cretins
in society. Usually seek politics as a profession.

Werewolf = all that is savage and bestial in a human being. Is released under
the cover of "darkness", that which is hidden but which a build up of internal
pressure eventually causes to be released. Provoked by a "full Moon", a small
light in darkness illuminates it, makes it apparent to all. In the
twentieth-century = the Nazis, submarine wolf-packs, the "Werewolf Movement",
Vampire = metaphor for perverted upper class power

Zombie = metaphor for the perverted power of the masses

Werewolf = metaphor for the power of our darker natures (generally, perverted power of self)
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