Monday, November 11, 2013

The Monster Inside Us

" We stopped checking for monsters under our bedswhen we realized they were inside us." ~The Joker

In the world we live in, it isn't an uncommon thing to be obsessed with monsters. Everyone has their Zombie plan, theirknowledge on how to kill the children of the night, and -really -who doesn't love a good monster movie? Vampires, Zombies, Witches, Warlocks, ghouls, Wendigos, Banshees...what ever your brand of monster, there is some book or movie that has been made to cater to your obsession. The world loves monsters. It always has. But, the question is, why? Why is it that we love what's meant to frighten us?

I've been interested in monsters since I was a little girl. Of course, until I hit high school the only monsters I liked were aliens. Then I heard about a movie that was supposed to be taking over the theaters...that movie was Twilight. Before you Twilight haters click the 'X' read on for a bit. I'm not one of the movie's hardcore fans, I promise. When I first heard of Twilight I was curious and asked a friend about it...she introduced me to the books and I flew through the first three in two days, then proceeded to wait-quite impatiently -for the forth. I loved the books...until the movies came out. I'll admit I watched the movies, I actually liked the first one, but lost interest in them.

Not long after discovering Twilight, I started researching Vampires. What I found ignited a spark within me. I instantly became hooked. I set aside Twilight and began watching other monster movies. They weren't hardcore movies. Not much blood and not at all what I would consider scary. I wasn't yet seventeen though, so my parents still had full control over what I viewed. The two movies I watched almost all the time were Van Hellsing and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. I still love those movies.

After I got into vampires and realized there were thousands of other monsters out there to learn about, my high school English teacher had us read Mary Shelly's Frankenstein. By that point, I was really into the monster world. I did my research, read stories about them, and watched movies. I was irritated when I found out that Hollywood didn't accurately portray Frankenstein and that the world had bought into the false representation they had been given.

My love for monsters has always kind of set me apart from my family. I grew up in a good Christian home, was taught that angels, demons, and witches exist, but Halloween was never a looked forward to tradition. There were always those Fall Festivals at church to attend, and we loved those, but trick-or-treating wasn't done. Before you start thinking I had super strict puritan-like parents, I didn't. Okay? They brought me up right and they did take me trick-or-treating once. I think I was about eight when my siblings and I were allowed to try trick-or-treating...and I hated it. I honestly didn't understand why anyone would want to dress up in costumes and go door-to-door taking candy from strangers. It wasn't something I was into. I've only been trick-or-treating once since then, but I still do enjoy the monsters that run the streets the night of October 31st.

For the longest time, I had no idea what it was about monsters that intrigued me. I just knew I was fascinated with them. Sometime during high school, though, is when I figured out just what it was that drew me to them. I was sitting in my Cults and Religions class (I went to a Lutheran high school and yes, this was a required class) learning about demon possession. Most of what was taught wasn't new to me, but the movie that was shown to our class was.

The Exorcism of Emily Rose was played in class for four days. During those four days I got absolutely no useful sleep. I slept maybe an hour a night and would normally end up sitting on the couch in the living room, scared of the shadows around me. Those of you that have seen that movie may or may not find it frightening. It wasn't really the movie that scared me. It was one specific scene that shook me to the core and left me with nightmares for months. I'd give you a YouTube clip of it, but frankly I never want to see any part of that movie again so I'm not going to go searching for what I consider to be the worst scene in it.

The scene was right before Emily get's possessed. She's aware that something's after her and leaves her dorm. She runs across campus, through the streets, and to a church. Flinging the doors open, she sprints down the aisle of the church, heading straight for the cross seated on the alter...and the demon possess her. Right there,in the church, the demon gets full control over her. In the church. A CHURCH! The idea that such a creature could take over a person on holy ground scared the living daylights out of me. That something so evil could stand in the presence of God and have power frighten me to no end. It also didn't help with my fears any when my teacher informed the class that Emily's story was real and showed us articles about the real Emily Rose (She's actually German and I know I'd butcher her first name if I tried to spell it, but you can Google it if you're really curious).

After that freaky encounter with that movie that shall never ever, ever, ever, ever be in my possession, is when I began wondering why I liked monsters. Why, even though that movie terrified me, I still wanted to know more.

Just yesterday I read an article on that spoke of the answer I discovered (). Said article spoke of how we -humans -love monsters because they are the embodiment of what we fear. They symbolize the fears of our times. And even though they scare us, we relate to them. They are our way of explaining our fears.

The Joker (From Batman) had it right when he said that, "We stopped checking for monsters under our beds when we realized they were inside us." Those monsters we fear; they aren't the blood sucking vampires on TV, or the boogy man hiding under our beds and in our closest, they're us. They're our society. They're the world we live in.

That article I gave you the link for talks about how each generation seems to have their favorite monster and how that monster shows the fears and life at that generation's time. At the end of the article, it posses an interesting question. The monsters that overrun our minds now days are the what are we scared of? What fear, what aspect of life, are we portraying with our love for zombies?

I honestly don't know. And I don't think we'll know. It'll be future generations that will look back and say, "Oh, the Zombie's came from this historical event." Whatever the reason though -and I'm sure if we created a list of the possible reasons it could take a full notebook -there is obviously more to the monsters that meet the eye.

Our love of monsters isn't physical. We like their supernatural abilities, we enjoy the stories they're in, but really the reason we like monsters is all psychological. It's because of something within us. Something that relates to that monster's symbolism. For me, I can watch any kind of monster movie and not be freaked out except for two.

Ghosts movies, I can handle in moderation. Your basic ghost movie won't scare me, but when you get into child ghosts that want to kill people it's time for me to leave the room.

Demon those are what freak me out. And yes, I know why. I've figured it out. What fear it is that makes them unbearable for me to watch. I can enjoy the other monsters simply because I understand their symbolism but are not directly effected by it. Demons...possession...that's one thing that hits home. I fear the loss of complete control. I fear the thought of being in Emily Rose's situation; of being stuck in a place in life where nothing, not even my faith, can save me.

Of course, I believe that no mater what God is there. That He'd save me from such a circumstance. But that doesn't prevent the idea from completely freaking me out.

I'm reminded of a scene from Cassandra Clare's City of Glass (SPOILER ALERT: FOR THOSE READING THE SERIES), where the character Simon is trapped in prison. At that point in the story, he's been recently turned into a vampire. As a human, he was from a Jewish family. He believed in God and participated in all the stuff his religion required him to...and guess what it is that the Shadowhunters use to trap him in the prison? They carve the symbols of his religion into the bars. It's the Star of David that keeps him there (END OF SPOILER). I cried when I read that scene, simply because I couldn't imagine being in his position. Being stuck in such a state and trapped by your own beliefs. It would feel awful, wanting to believe but being rejected by those beliefs.

Now, I've said a lot in this post, and some of you will probably question my mental state or my spiritual state after reading this, but I assure you I'm find. Both mentally and spiritually. The point of this post was to discus monsters as being symbols. As being representations of our fears. I've spoken on the mater before, and many people disagree with my opinions, and that's okay. Feel free to disagree, but don't be close minded.

Monsters are more than scary shadows that go bump in the night. They're the shadows the lurk in our minds, tearing us apart at our weakest and darkest moments. They are symbols of psychological themes. The following song by the band Skillet, really shows this point. I'm going to leave you with this song and I encourage you to go ahead and take a few minutes to listen to it. Listen to the lyrics, don't just watch the video.
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