To be sure, Monsters are a subjective lot. They are an evolving breed. Birthed from our fears and ignorance, nurtured by our apathy, greed and lust.
To the fervent Conservative, the Monster is a Liberal-Progressive. Conversely, the Liberal finds the Social-Conservative to be only missing a good set of fangs to cap off their monstrousness. Our parents used Monsters liberally, and to great effect, in order to control our behaviors, i.e. The Boogeyman, et al.
Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you, right?
In earlier times, Christians and Jews believed each other to be born of Monster seed. (In the South, some people still believe that Jews sneak into their homes at night and eat their children.)
The topic of Monsters led me to wonder “How did Monsters begin?” Without a doubt, Monsters cannot exist without Mankind.
Is the concept of “Monsters” so engrained that it’s part of our DNA? And if so, who do we blame? God? Darwin? Freud? Jung? The little girl who lived across the street who raised her skirt and scared the Hell out of me when I was 9? I mean, we’ve got to have someone to blame, right? (THAT in itself is a pretty monstrous concept and one that I suspect hearkens back to the very first democratic thought.)
But, let us leave these loftier philosophical questions for a moment to consider the possible origins of our most famous Monsters.
It is generally believed that the Bible was begun by Moses in 1500 B.C. and passed on generation to generation for several centuries before the first words were set to page around 1,000 B.C. (Probably by an out-of-work screenwriter)
If this is indeed true, it would seem that Monsters have been with us forever and if you accept that Satan, in the form of a Serpent, fomented the destruction of Eden – then it’s not a huge leap to believe that lowly Snake may have been our first Monster.
Now, if you subscribe to Darwinian theory, the first Monster may have been a wooly Mammoth or a Saber Toothed Tiger. Though most folks seem to agree that the Saber Toothed Tiger pre-existed Man rather than co-existed with him.
Personally, Valet Boy believes that the Human Being was the first Monster and continues to be the most frightening above all.
To paraphrase FDR, “The only thing we have to fear…is the freak-a-zoid next door.”
Okay…I’m getting a little off track here.
Not to take anything away from Moses and Genesis, The Golem may actually have been the very first Monster tale — it was most certainly the inspiration for Mary W. Shelley’s “Frankenstein”. The German film of 1920 served as an important influence upon the Frankenstein movies made over the years, as many of its scenes were borrowed liberally.
The Golem exists in Jewish mythology and can be traced to the roots of creation, in fact according to the Talmud (Sacred oral traditions believed to have been given to Moses by God), Adam was the first Golem — Fashioned by the Hand of God from Clay. Once God breathed life into Adam, as might be expected, he became Man and wandered aimlessly around The Garden of Eden — because he refused to ask for directions.
The late famed science fiction author Issac Asimov credited Jewish Teachings and Yiddish Mythology for the birth of Science Fiction and indeed his theory makes a degree of sense. If one considers the Torah, the Talmud and the Bible, it becomes obvious that so much of our human “fictional-literary” history – from Aliens & UFO’s to Vampires – may have indeed been birthed from our most cherished moral teachings.
The Epic Poem Beowulf – a real monster of a tale most of us had to study in Junior High – was probably created around 700 A.D. as an oral tradition – then later (about 1,000 A.D.) a couple of British Hacks sat down at their crude Underwood typewriter and hammered it out for posterity.
Beauty and the Beast was written by Madame Gabrielle de Villeneuve and published in 1740. A little bit late to the Monster party but deserving of mention. Valet Boy’s favorite version is the Jean Cocteau film of 1946.
“In the beginning, the world was without form and void. And God said, “Let there be light” – Thus God was the first director and movies were born.”
The Monster Movie is synonymous with Horror Movies.
It’s believed that “Le Manoir de Diable” (The House of the Devil) was the first horror movie. It was filmed by Georges Melies in France in 1896 and was 1-2 minutes in length. It depicted Mephistopheles summoning ghosts and demons from a boiling cauldron.
But, there is some discussion among purists as to whether or not the first horror film wasn’t in fact “The Execution of Mary Stuart”. Produced by American inventor Thomas Edison in 1895, it was only 18 seconds in length and depicted a woman being beheaded. So, one might say that the Slasher Genre was created by Edison and as such is the preeminent horror movie concept. Something which I’m sure gives Rob Zombie fans a kick.
Valet Boy is rather fond of Lawrence Woolsey’s (John Goodman’s character) explanation of the origin of horror movies in the cult film “Matinee“, lovingly directed by Joe Dante.
Woolsey (a cheesey producer based upon horror-shlock icon William Castle) tells a young boy that when a Cave Man first illustrated his encounters with a wooly Mammoth on a cave wall, he jazzed the thing up with giant tusks, drooling jowls, wild eyes and frighteningly huge fangs in the desire to make himself more heroic and maybe get a little extra attention from Betty Lou for his efforts.
So, we’ve determined that Monsters go waaaaaay back and apparently so does the Hero.
One might safely assume therefore, with all of this history behind it, that Monsters are old hat, all used up and burned out. Not so.
Our Monsters have certainly evolved, but they are nowhere near the point of extinction.
While Aliens, Vampires, Werewolves, Genetic Mis-Creations and Spiritual Demons still hold sway at the box office and on bookshelves, OUR TRUE MONSTERS look very much like us.
In fact, THEY ARE US!
Today our Monsters are greedy, self-serving politicians who craftily line their pockets with salving graft at the expense of our health, our environment, our financial well-being, our freedoms and our future.
Our Monsters are the industrialists who spend billions on marketing and advertising campaigns lecturing us on how much They Care and How Green and Enviro-Friendly they are as they poison our earth, oceans and skies.
The Monsters are Human Traffickers, both here in the US and around the world — Whether the victims are kidnapped or bought outright from their parents, these children and teens are captive sex slaves. Often the only freedom from such abuse is death. So many nations – which WE as the United States support through our aid and finances – either turn a blind eye to such activities or support them as a cultural choice.
Our more common varieties of the modern Monster are the “simple” abusers (animal and human), the molesters and murderers — in this form they take on the mantle of bottom-feeding scum.
But, even these Monsters may be possessed of an “Everyman-type” quality making them virtually impossible to spot on the street. By way of an extreme example: Shave Osama Bin Laden, give him a nice $400 haircut, put him in a Brooks Brother’s suit, set a martini glass in his hand and he looks just like anybody else in a Washington, DC bar.
And it seems all but impossible to staunch the flow of these miscreants into our societies. These Evil-Vampiric-Entities will not be satisfied by merely draining our blood…Oh, No… These Devil-Spawn Creatures of Death and Destruction want to Rule Our Lives from cradle to grave.
To paraphrase: “Drain a man’s blood, you eat for a day….Teach him to live in fear and under your control, you feed forever.”
To be sure, this is a sad state of affairs. But, the saddest thing yet is that these Monsters are of our own making. I know, I know. You’re asking “How did I Create These Foul Nightmarish Creatures?”
We ALL created them because Our Needs, Wants and Desires – We made a deal to Dance with the Devil – so why should we be surprised when he steps all over our toes?
Banishing these Monster/Demons back to their Stygian prisons is no easy task for it means we may actually have to temper said Needs, Wants and Desires with a little old-fashioned stoicism, self-reliance, patient austerity and some damn GUTS.
And THAT Dear Readers is going to be one Herculean task. For now that these Monsters have suckled at the sweet breast of freedom, they are none to eager to return to their drab and shabby lock-ups.
Perhaps, a good dousing with Turpentine** could wipe the slate clean again and bring back the pristine waters of our innocence.
Perhaps. But, I rather think it would take another Noah Sized Flood to do it right.
Grab a party hat and a beach umbrella! 2012 Here We Come! Wheee-Ha!
** Turpentine is in reference to Valet Boy’s “Monsters Part Uno”.
We’ve barely scratched the surface here, but it’s only a blog after all – not a Course at University.
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