Thursday, February 28, 2013
...America, a society that has created and commodified “ambient fear"-a kind of total fear that saturates day-to-day living, prodding and silently antagonizing but never speaking its own name. This anxiety manifests itself symptomatically as a cultural fascination with monsters-a fixation that is born of the twin desire to name that which is difficult to apprehend and to domesticate (and therefore disempower) that which threatens. And so the monster appears simultaneously as the demonic disemboweler of Slasher and as a wide-eyed, sickeningly cute plush toy for children: velociraptor and Barney.
Note from the author: Portions of this preface and of chapter 1, “Monster Culture (Seven Theses),” have twice been delivered as part of conference presentations. Invariably the audience giggles at the juxtaposition-so seemingly absurd-of the friendly mascot of PBS (Barney) and the equally but oppositely fictionalized dinosaur who thinks like a human and shreds flesh like the Alien (velociraptor). “That's not funny,” I chide them, knowing full well that it is; what anxiety, then, do we hide by the laughter? What does the dismissal by declaration of absurd mismatch allow us not to have to think about?
- from Monster Theory: Reading Culture, by Jeffrey Jerome Cohen