Screams in the void…

(There might be spoilers ahead for those who haven’t yet finished #UmbrellaAcademy and #StrangerThings)

The above tweet shows how voices matter. Keept telling misogynistic asshats to shut up.

One of my hobbies is to make connections or timelines of..things. In this case, it’s the thematic overtones of horror movies.

Note: many of these films are centered on racist, bigoted tropes.

This is by no means an exhaustive, curated list:

And we also have the series, binge-worthy media consumption of streaming now. While we are not going to movie theatres (well, some of you are…) if we can we’ve created environments in our homes that allow us to consume some amazing writing and filmmaking. You’re welcome to go down the rabbit holes of links and movies at your leisure: this post is about one thing I’ve noticed in current horror — the scream of power.

Two recent series I’ve watched, “The Umbrella Academy” and “Stranger Things” use what I’m calling the scream of power. In Umbrella, the actor, Elliot Page, a trans man, his character began as Vanya and in Season 3, is Viktor. The writing is beautiful, tender, and Elliot is sublime. He is truly magnificent. And while the character Vanya used her powers to use sound/sonic waves to destroy, Viktor grows into his powers. When he reunites with Harlan, his compassion and grief manifest into more protective powers.

Now, Umbrella Academy perhaps isn’t horror; it’s science fiction/fantasy, but the horrors the characters, born in 1989 with incredible superpowers, face is very real. They confront the past horrors of racism, homophobia, transphobia, and bigotry. The connection I’m sensing is what ideas define and shape the characteristics in present sense: how are we grappling, through literature/film (and yes, “Umbrella” and “Stranger Things” are literature and I will fight you)

Elliot Page as Viktor Hargreeves

Viktor’s powers allow him to manipulate sound waves as he wishes, converting them into energy that he can then use in any number of ways, from telekinesis to flight. Just like the powers of his Umbrella Academy siblings, Viktor shows there are many creative ways his unique skill can be applied. He can convert soundwaves into bright white, destructive energy, and can create protective barriers strong enough to stop bullets. While this may sound straightforward, Viktor also demonstrates other abilities that are not obviously related to the manipulation of sound waves in the Netflix series. He has super hearing and can manipulate the weather and matter in general, as seen when his clothes and eyes change color.

Elliot/Viktor finds his voice. And his sister, Allison, continues to harbor immense grief, as her voice and powers shift, too. I’m watching Allison’s character arc closely — is this the grief and despair of losing her child, Black, experiencing the hatred of racism past and present? She represents the generational voice and trauma of her gender, race, and lack of agency–we all need to watch her arc carefully and with compassion, because right now, her character is being written as unredeemable, and that doesn’t sit right with me.

Shifting to Stranger Things, El’s character is a big, powerful voice in a tiny body.

There was a thread recently about GenX which said a lot of things which resonated with many, but did not include BIPOC experiences. When I watch Stranger Things, it provides a thin slice into looking back on my own adolescence. No, it cannot do everything. It should, and perhaps this will lead the way to more stories that center BIPOC voices and experiences. The characters Erica and Lucas Sinclair are central to the story, Lucas especially. And this scene describes the bullying of my generation, and it’s relatable to many generations. White kids making sure their privilege and power is maintained.

We consume and reflect media through the lens of our current status, our present tense: Vecna is the Christo-fascist movement. It infilitrated everything. He was harmed by Papa. He was created by El. And the monster seeks to destroy all — and here we are. We better figure out how to be inclusive, powerful, and share our gifts to set things right. Because they’ve been wrong since the beginning: the seeds of our nations grew in blood, destruction, colonialism, lies, weapons, disease, and mythology. El finds her voice, again and again. When will we adults listen?

The first hint that something might be different this time came the morning after the shootings, from a Douglas High School sophomore named Sarah Chadwick, who informed the President of the United States, via his favorite medium, in words that quickly went viral, “I don’t want your condolences you fucking piece of shit, my friends and teachers were shot.”