(There might be spoilers ahead for those who haven’t yet finished #UmbrellaAcademy and #StrangerThings)
Elliot Page is a hero because his mere existence managed to cause Jordan Peterson to meltdown so hard he got himself deplatformed lmao— 💀 The Horror Guru 💀 (@TheHorrorGuru) July 3, 2022
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:
- 1920s: Vampires, magicians, carry-overs from spiritualism of the Victorian age
- 1930s: More vampires, magicians, and think classic literature are being remade into horror
- 1940s: Think film noir, and a lot of franchises (Frankenstein)
- 1950s: Atomic age, big monsters, post-WWII, radioactive bugs and lizards
- 1960s: Think about Satanic, psychological thrillers
- 1970s: The filmmakers of the 1970s took notes on the previous horror and created some truly scary stuff; the beginning of teenage morality stories, slasher films, zombies
- 1980s: Teenage morality plays (slasher films), and more
- 1990s: Note that Beloved is on this list as a horror film.; supernatural terrors: horror/supernatural films show compassion, grief, and loss
- 2000s: Psychological, urban legends, rise of the generation on the internet watching horror and terror in real-time
- 2010s: the brilliance of Jordan Peele: generational conflicts and reckonings
- 2020s: think AirBnB’s gone wrong.
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/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.
That kid in our class who died of bullying – we knew why they did it— M. Belanger (@sethanikeem) July 3, 2022
Why the jocks always picked on them; why they were the target of cruel games like Smear the Qu**r
Even if we weren’t allowed a word for it, we knew
And we started to hope the world had changed …
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?