Dalek and Us: Grey Areas, Otherization, and Monstrosity

Not all monsters are evil, to be sure. But we often assume they are. My dissertation, and thus my primary work of scholarship right now, focuses on monstrosity, but monstrosity and evil often correlate in pop culture representations.  Shortly after I started my blog, when I was a neophyte blogger and had not yet entered a PhD program, I had a profound interest in cultural manifestations of evil: who do we call evil, who gets to make that decision, what are the consequences of the word “evil,” and how do we navigate the fine line between excusing evil and seeking to understand it? Nurse Jude, played by Jessica Lange, says with her usual self-assurance in Season Two of American Horror Story, “All monsters are human.”  At the same time, writer Stephen T. Asma, in his book On Monsters, highlights the precarious nature of assuming a correlation between monstrosity and innate evil with his concept of “accidental monstrosity,” a phrase he uses to describe those who, after a slip and a slide in the wrong direction, become monsters without meaning to.  Monstrosity and evil, in any case, have one thing in common: both are massive umbrella terms that encompass multiple gradations and examples within their denotations. 

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Dalek and Us: Grey Areas, Otherization, and Monstrosity