The 21st Century Wolf
Imagine being an ordinary teenager then one day, you develop super hearing, super strength and speed. Along with these super powers you grow long thick hair all over your body, claws, and fangs. That’s right you’ve turned into a werewolf, this sounds bizarre however, it’s a very popular phenomenon. Werewolf’s have been featured in several movies television shows and, other media forms. The story usually starts out the same, an ordinary teenager that somehow develops supernatural powers and possesses features of a werewolf. The teenager that turns into a werewolf is usually an underdog that everyone underestimates. However, when they turn into a werewolf they let all their inner demons out. These werewolves can become filled with rage and very violent; even the process of turning into a werewolf is pretty scary. In Jeffery Cohens article, “The Monster Culture”, Cohen goes into seven theories that every monster fits into. In thesis one, Cohen describes how the monstrous body is one of culture; he writes, “The monster is born only at this metamorphic crossroads, as an embodiment of a certain cultural moment of a time, a feeling, and a place”. This quite literally goes hand in hand with the transformation of a werewolf. The boy that turns into a werewolf is usually just entering manhood and, that comes with not knowing how to control their emotions, which brings out the werewolf.
The movie Teen Wolf, was made in 1985 and starred Michael J. Fox as Scott Howard, a normal pubescent boy that starts morphing into a werewolf. Just as any other teenage movie, Scott had his sidekick friend Stiles, and the girl that eventually becomes his girlfriend, Boof. The movie followed the same storyline other werewolf movies followed. Scott Howard was a teenage boy that had a crush on an older girl at his school, he played basketball and he wasn’t very good at it; one day on the courts he started growling out of anger at another one of the players. The next thing we see is Scott in the locker room getting undressed and he has a long thick hair on his chest. The movie moves very fast, from the opening scene we see Scott starting to gain the traits of a werewolf. The movie gives absolutely no reason behind why Scott is all of a sudden gaining these metaphysical traits. One day in class Scott is asked to do a math problem on the chalkboard and when he goes to write, he has scary yellow claws; Scott immediately drops the chalk on the floor and runs out of class. It’s very obvious Scott cannot control when these werewolf features appear. Following along with the habit of these uncontrollable werewolf traits being exposed, at a party Scott is dared to go into a closet with his friend Boof and in the closet the pair starts to kiss. As they are kissing, Scotts claws once again come out and he scratches Boof. His embarrassment causes him to run home, and once he gets home he runs into the bathroom and we slowly get to see Scott to turn into a full on werewolf. This was definitely the scariest part of the movie because its shows Scott grow into a werewolf before our eyes. From his eyes turning yellow, to him growing brown hair all over his body, and his teeth turning sharp. This scene was very eerie and embodies the creepy factor of a boy turning into a werewolf. Throughout the movie Scott turns into a werewolf every time he becomes angry or excited with a girl, its very obvious that this has a close connection with boys becoming a man. When a boy is going through changes its very hard to control those feelings and, that is exactly what happened to Scott throughout the entire movie. In fact, Scott eventually turns into a wolf in front of everyone at school and rather than his schoolmates being scared, they embraced Scott as a werewolf which gained him popularity. Scott loses his old friends and starts hanging out with popular people at school; Scott even played basketball as a wolf which made him play better and, get even more exposure. In the end Scott started to loose himself to the wolf and, with the help of his dad(who is also a wolf) he learned to control his inner wolf. Scott ultimately started to be himself again and no longer wanted to bring the wolf out.
After watching the movie I felt it was very cheesy like most teenage movies are. However, I did have to remember this movie was made in the 80’s so it is not going to be as evolved as werewolf movies I have seen more recently. With that being said, the movie would have been better if they provided some background information on why Scott and his dad are werewolves; from the very beginning Scott started to become a werewolf which was very odd. Showing Scott become a werewolf from the beginning took away from the overall storyline of the movie. Also, it was odd that Scott was openly a werewolf throughout the movie, this just felt very fake because no one would openly walk around in public as a werewolf. Of course, this in the end taught the lesson of how important it is to be yourself but, it still felt very unnatural. The best parts of the movie were Scotts very first time transforming into a wolf because it was very creepy even for it being made in the 80s, this scene brought that scary feeling that werewolves possess. The other best part of the movie was Scotts best friend/ sidekick Stiles, he provided the lighthearted comedy to the movie. Stiles wore shirts that said things like “Life is shit, then you die”. Stiles character was also the support system for Scott which made him perfect for the movie.
Despite me feeling that this movie is very mediocre, in its time it was number two for sells on its debut weekend. Of course, it was number two after the movie Back to The Future also starring Michal J. Fox. The budget for this movie was 1 million dollars and they’ve made 30 million so, money wise they reached success. However, movie critics like rotten tomatoes gave the movie a 4.8 out of 10. I would agree with rotten tomatoes; the movie was cute but, I wouldn’t choose to watch this movie in my free time.
26 years later, a TV show called Teen Wolf was created on the MTV network. Teen wolf was about a teenage boy, Scott McCall, who turns into a werewolf on a full moon. Scott has a best friend/ sidekick named Stiles that brings comedy to the show and support to his best friend Scott. This all sounds very familiar because, the show Teen Wolf is an adaptation of the movie Teen Wolf. However, I use the words adaptation very loosely because the show is like the movie on crack. Besides the fact that the two main characters have the same roles and names, the show takes a complete twist on the movie. The show Teen Wolf still follows Jeffery Cohens first monster theory because the werewolf body is still one of culture. In the show I would also add Cohens 6th monster theory which is all about the monster, and the desire we have for the monster. In explain this theory Cohen writes, “We distrust and loathe the monster at the same time we envy its freedom, and perhaps its subline despair”. In the show Teen Wolf Scott has a certain power and knowledge over the rest of his peers which makes him un-average; and although his powers as a wolf a very dangerous, when you really look at him he has certain capabilities that a lot of people wish they had.
In the very first episode the show introduces Scott as a normal teenage boy in high school that lives with his mom. When a body is found in the forest of their neighborhood, Scott and Stiles become concerned when they find out only half of the body was actually found as if some sort of animal ate the other half. Scott and Stiles have the brilliant idea of wandering into the forest at night to get some insight on the murder scene and while there, Scott ends up getting bitten from a werewolf which in turn, turns him into a werewolf. Throughout the show, it shows Scott battling with being a teenager and a werewolf. This show follows Scotts conquests with other not so good werewolves, and the people who hunt werewolves. This shows provides a lot of different storylines and how dangerous it really is to be a werewolf. All the while, Scott is still a high school student, that does normal things like date girls and plays sports like lacrosse (that he comes superb at after turning into a werewolf). In an article by Jamie Weinman called, “May contain a Teen and/or Wolf: film adaptations are ruling TV, even if the shows are nothing like the originals”, she gives her thoughts on the TV show Teen Wolf compared to the movie. Weinman writes, “But although showrunner Jeff Davis (Criminal Minds) took the basic idea of the 1985 cult film–a high school kid is bitten by a werewolf, and craziness ensues–the tone is completely different: The original was a light comedy, while the series is a serious blend of horror and romance”. Weinmen is pretty spot on with this review of the Teen Wolf show and movie. The movie is a much more childish lighthearted take on a werewolf, rather than the show where Scott is faced with life threatening altercations and romance was also much more affluent in the show than the movie. In the movie Scott had a crush on an older girl out of his league, but predictably ended up with his friend Boof. On the other hand, in the show Scott was in a serious relationship with Allison; along with other main characters being in serious relationships. The show also had sex scenes and was far more mature than the movie, that had a couple of kissing scenes.
All in all this adaptation followed the classic storyline of a werewolf as a monster and added on several different components to set it apart from other werewolves in media history. With the combinations of interesting story lines, great romance, and battle scenes this show definitely won over its audience. Even the cinematography of the show was unreal, the werewolves weren’t corny looking brown furred creatures, they were actually beautiful beings. The werewolves in the show (boys and girls) had colorful eyes, long claws, and sharp teeth. Their look was very up to date and attractive. In the article, “One Last Howl” by, Samantha Highfill, she discusses the success of the show Teen Wolf in stating, “Over six seasons, the show attracted the type of devoted fan base that not only made it MTV’s highest-rated scripted series among teens but also made each of its San Diego Comic-Con panels feel like a rock concert”. The show has clearly left its mark in history, becoming the highest rated show on MTV is huge considering, MTV is more known for music and reality shows not scripted sitcoms. I watched the show Teen Wolf from the very first season and became obsessed, every episode is good from start to finish, each season features different things which makes you never get bored of it, and the show has great actors that bring everything together. The show took the movies initial story and really elevated it to a completely new level. Giving the movie credit, the show takes the basic things like, the comedic friendship between Stiles and Scott, and Scott being an average student athlete that takes on the role of the werewolf. Conclusively, the movie was a very broad starting point for the show.
Werewolves are one of the many monsters apart of our culture that have evolved over decades. Werewolves are featured in several different forms of media, each one being a little different than the next, however you can see the palimpsest in each one to the other. Another famous werewolf in pop culture, is the one of Michael Jackson in the thriller music video. While Jackson is on a date with a girl on the night of a full moon, Jackson turns into a werewolf. Jacksons eyes turn green, his flesh becomes dark, he grows claws, pointy ears, and fangs! This take on a werewolf was another very popular one, Thriller is Michael Jacksons most famous music video and honestly never gets old. From Thriller, to the movie and show Teen Wolf, werewolves are a very influential monster in our culture, from being the cultural body(Cohens 1st theory), to being desired (Cohens 6th theory), something about werewolves keeps an audience hooked.
Cohen, Jeffrey Jerome. “Monster Culture (Seven Theses)(Extract).” Speaking of Monsters, doi:10.1057/9781137101495.0007.
This source was described in class, which is an article of seven theses that can be used to describe a monster. I used this twice in my essay. The first time to show the how the first thesis (Cultural body) fits my monster. The second time I used it was to show how the 6th thesis (desire of monster) also fits my monster. This source is one of my three scholarly sources.
Highfill, Samantha. “One Last Howl.” Entertainment Weekly, no. 1480, 9/1/2017, pp. 30-32. EBSCOhost, chaffey.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=124810627&site=ehost-live.
This source was another one of my three scholarly sources. This article talks about the reception of the show teen wolf and how it has evolved. I used this source to show how popular the show has become compared to the movie. This supported my thesis in that the show was a better developed story.
Jeff Davis, creator. Teen Wolf. Viacom Media Networks and 20th century Fox Home Entertainment, 2011.
This source was used as a media source. The show Teen Wolf is an adaptation of the 1985 fil teen wolf. This showed the evolution of a wolf. It provided a newer media example of my monster, a werewolf. I reference the show throughout my paper to evaluate.
“Michael Jackson- Thriller.” YouTube, uploaded by Michael Jackson Vevo, 2 Oct. 2009, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOnqjkJTMaA.
This is another media example I use in my essay. This shows another portrayal of a werewolf in a completely different form, a music video. This provided more support to my paper of how all werewolves follow the same rules when it comes to morphing. Also, all werewolves possess the same physical features.
Teen Wolf. Directed by Rod Daniel, performances by Michael Fox, Susan Ursitti, and Jerry Levine, Atlantic Releasing Corporation, 1985.
The movie Teen Wolf is the starting point of my essay. I use this film and compare it to the adaptation, the show teen wolf. I use this movie as a basis and compare it to other werewolf portrayals. This source shows the old version of a werewolf compared to now.
Weinman, Jaime J. “May contain a Teen and/or Wolf: film adaptations are ruling TV, even if the shows are nothing like the originals.” Maclean’s, 6 July 2015, p. 71. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/A420435335/OVIC?u=ranc95197&xid=1c472dbe. Accessed 28 Nov. 2017.
I used this source when providing support on my critique of the old Teen Wolf movie and the new TV show. A quote from this article backed up my opinion on the show vs. the movie. This also provided my paper with another scholarly article.