Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Zombies, Vampires, Angels and Demons

White and Black Skull figurine on black surface Photo by Mathew MacQuarrie on Unsplash

    The sands of time slip through the fingers of countless people that realize
youth, beauty, and energy are ephemeral.  Perhaps this is why legendary creatures like the Vampire are such an important element in our culture.  From the dawn of mankind, there were small groups that would gather around an elder, attentively listening in on imaginary tales of great beasts and grandiose feats, all the while envisioning themselves slaying those beasts in victory.  Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan succinctly remind us of how numerous societies before us have had their own mythical creatures like the Vampire.  These vehicles of imagination used as a means to vicariously alter the sands of time, to remain ever young and beautiful.  Therefore the preoccupation with the supernatural in movies and television is not a destructive force in our culture, on the contrary, it is extremely beneficial to a healthy and happy culture.

    After a long day at school, work or after having spent the day caring for family, people are often exhausted.  People want to rest, relax and preoccupy their minds with entertainment to distract them from the inevitable repetitive tasks which consume their daily lives.  When analyzing why the supernatural is particularly beneficial one must first examine why a suspenseful supernatural movie or television, is a great way to escape the stressors of life.  For example, many supernatural movies apply jump-scare techniques in their scenes which induce an increase heart rate, raise blood pressure and produce chemicals in the brain which can cause an almost euphoric feeling from the rush of adrenaline.  However, jump-scares in movies can have detrimental effects on people with a heart condition.

    Supernatural themes in movies and television are a great way to live vicariously through the heroes or monsters depicted. It is through the vicarious phenomenon that countless services have become so popular.  The success of not only Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, but also more main-stream “Reality Television” demonstrates the power of living through another person's experiences.  One can Pore over “Vampires Never Die” by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan and can quickly ascertain their stance on the vampire and our deep desires to imagine ourselves through this creature:  “For his contagion bestows its nocturnal gift, the vampire transforms our vile, mortal selves into the gold of eternal youth and instills in us something that every social construct seems to quash; primal lust.”  


Although the Vampire provides the gifts to eternal youth and primal lust, he is also a good indicator for what a current generation deems scary or beautiful.  Nosferatu (1922), Dracula (1931), Interview with the Vampire (1994) and Twilight (2008) are good examples.  In an online article, Parmjit Parmar shares the sentiment: “In looking at vampire stories from any given era, you will see what they thought was sexy, frightening, and even forbidden. Vampire and paranormal have offered and will continue to provide important cultural context.”


    Not all supernatural themes are necessarily a vicarious experience.  People tend to be empathetic; thus the paradigm of the Zombie tends to be another obsession of the supernatural fanatic.  James Parker describes the zombie as a moldable reflection of oneself, forced to exist only to quell its insatiable hunger; We too merely try to exist. If Vampires hold our deepest desires, and zombies remind us we are not alone in our fight for survival, perhaps the most culturally significant supernatural and paranormal phenomena are ghosts and demons, for if ghosts exist then we can be certain that there must be an afterlife. If demons exist then the natural order of balance in the universe should prove that angels must also exist.


    Del Toro and Hogan concluded that: “The current vampire pandemic services to remind us that we have no true jurisdiction over our bodies, our climate or our very souls.” but through the power of entertainment brought to us through supernatural themes in movies and television, we can escape reality for an hour or two and fantasize about our unblemished skin, our everlasting strength, and vigorous passion.  We can imagine that our ancestors look down on us and protect us, and we can feel a bit better when we consider our zombie and remind ourselves that we are not alone in our struggles; hence supernatural themes are crucial to a happy culture.

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