Dear readers, gather around the campfire—okay, or the computer screen—as I regale you with a story. Throughout time, we’ve been entertained with tales of heroes—the Mighty Achilles, Sir Gawain, Beowulf…Spiderman, Superman, Antman, Xena the Warrior Princess…and the list goes on. I’m here today, however, to discuss a different hero—a single woman who, at a young age, was relegated to a cold, imprisoning underground lair not by any evil villain, but by her own image, staring back at her in a funhouse mirror. For years, the subterranean woman lived among her subterranean people, a group of have-nots who were tethered to those in the world above, who “lived the lives” of those above ground, albeit without all the artifacts and accoutrements associated with living. Angry at her fate, this young woman grew up and devised a plan, inspired by the image on a t-shirt, that could be executed with a mere lighter and a few pairs of scissors. The woman planned not just to take over a city, a state, or a nation, but, with the help of the others who lived with her underground, to take over the world, to re-populate the world above ground with her enslaved, tethered people. She did not want fame, power, or fortune—merely justice and the warm light of the sun, for herself and those she lived among. Thus, with nothing but cunning brilliance, a few dull sheers, an eccentric family, and some kickass dance moves, a young woman and her family entered the “ordinary world,” intent on inhabiting it by dominating it.Continue reading “Red’s Retaliation: The Untethering of a Subterranean Revolutionary – Fiction’s Fearless Females”
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.Continue reading “Dalek and Us: Grey Areas, Otherization, and Monstrosity”
Get Uncomfortable with Get Out
I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect when entering the theater to watch the newly released Get Out. On the one hand, the previews looked creepy enough. And then there’s the intriguing prospect of a horror movie that considers the problem of racial injustice. I thought that the movie had incredible potential – and was excited to see it – but I thought it could bust, too. Happily, the film was strange and jarring but also excellent. Get Out takes typical social discomfort and morphs it into unsettling suspense. The film facilitates a lot of pathos from the viewer toward the characters and makes a bold statement about the unsolved problem of racial inequity in America. Since the film has been out for a couple of weeks, and since it may be easier to discuss by referring to the ending, there may be spoilers in this review. Beware!