Tuesday, April 18, 2017
From zombie parades to Stranger Things: why is our culture obsessed with monsters?
Olivia Laing in the New Statesman:
There’s something kind of hot about monsters. They’re so dumb and hungry, with their big hairy mitts and gleaming fangs, leaving a trail of gore in their wake. And they’re soulful, too: Cocteau’s melancholy Bête, a tear spangling his fur; Boris Karloff as Frankenstein’s lonesome Creature, mumbling, “Alone: bad. Friend, good!” Monsters plunder unconscious terrors about dangerous homes and unsettling bodies; hardly any wonder we’re all fixated on what Charlie Fox calls “monstrous entertainments”, from zombie parades to Stranger Things to the 2015 exhibition of Alexander McQueen’s spectral waifs and hybrids at the Victoria and Albert Museum.
“A monster is a fear assuming a form” is a pretty neat definition with which to embark on a whizzy cultural history of fiends and ghouls in the contemporary imagination. The beast, the freak, the oddity has provided many artists with inspirational material, from Diane Arbus to John Carpenter and David Lynch, but isn’t the artist also a type of monster: a vampire or delinquent, like Arthur Rimbaud loaded on absinthe, stabbing Verlaine in a lesbian bar? The monster’s stock-in-trade of transformation, catharsis, revenge, is, as Fox notes, “something like art’s task”.
Posted by S. Abbas Raza at 04:07 PM | Permalink