Why Monsters Matter

Photo by Max Kleinen from Unspalsh

Unfortunately, there can be no doubt that man is, on the wholeless good than he imagines himself or wants to be. Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is. If inferiority is conscious, one always has a chance to correct it. – Carl Jung

 Why do horror movies even exist and why are documentaries on serial killers so popular? What is it about the collective consciousness of mankind that makes them fascinated with the dark side of humanity? Why is bad often celebrated and the good ignored?

Now, don’t get me wrong. People will lie and say they hate evil and are appalled by it, but is that true? Is it even close to reality? Hmm, probably not! 

Fact. People dig evil or, at least, evil thoughts. Deep inside, most people want to think bad and do bad. They want to be the person who tells the other driver to go F@#* himself when they cut them off in traffic. They would love to tell people what they really think. In our PC culture, this DARK desire will only get greater. The more they are told not to do something, the more people will fantasize about doing it.

The concept of forbidden fruit is factual. We always want what we can’t have. We desire often being more powerful and more unforgiving. We love it! So, don’t lie.

The mass media monster, real or imagined, represents the monster in all of us. It is our dark side unleashed. A strange chance to wonder could or would you do something so bad?  Thankfully, most everyone says no. But they think about it.  Oh, trust me…they think about it!

Vengeance is a powerful emotion and one in Western culture that is never addressed on a personal level.  Let’s cut the malarkey. People have to trust that the justice system will work when family members have been violated or worse.  They have to hope that justice (whatever that is?) will be served.  And if they system goes wrong or fails? Well…well…well…you’re just screwed. Work goes bad and you are treated badly? Let’s hope that person in HR gives a damn. If not?? Hmmmm. There you go.

People have a dark side and folks just need to admit it. And keeping it real, it is better that people watch TV than act on their worst impulses. There is a time that fantasy can be positive and an outlet. Better to think you are Jason from Friday the 13th than to be a “real” Jason. (Note: the real concept of the first films about Jason’s mother where pure revenge porn.)

There is also the weird counter process of horror films. The films and documentaries address the need to feel like a victim and the confrontation with the randomness of life.  The horror film or murder biopic always places the viewer in the role of victim. It exposes the arbitrariness of living. It stresses how much things can change in an instant. 

Even with a bad ending, and there is always a bad ending, the viewer gets to experience the loss of their own life’s meaning. It is a not so subtle and brutal reminder that life is a fragile mess. And for our own darkness, we seem to need to be reminded of that. It is a trip to the abyss, but one many people seem to need.

The horror movie also addresses the thirst and reality of evil.  It is strange confirmation. If you listened to people, you would think we were looking for some sunshine, but that is not where people turn. They say they’re looking for hope, but you won’t find them on the “Hope Channel.” Even the Hallmark Channel has the bad guy.

What many look for is the consistency of evil. Tell them about a good place – maybe a church – and they will tell you about hypocrites, greedy pastors, and liars. Show them a happy family and they will tell you the household is fake, or the people think they are better than everyone else. Show them sunshine and they look for clouds. 

So, the monster is important. He/she is the bad person we would be if you had the guts. It is the entity that is in control. It is the power broker that is directing all things. It is the darkness that dwells in all of us. 

The monster is also the mechanism that makes victims of all of us. It is reason we feel hopeless and helpless. It is the darkness that everyone has to deal with. Monsters are everywhere…Monsters are people.

Joseph St. John