Who doesn’t love Christmas? Regardless of religion, most enjoy the holiday cheer and other holiday festivities that are often associated with Christmas. Every year millions of people spend millions of dollars on decorations, food, festivities, and gifts for the ones who matter. It seems Christmas has become synonymous with happiness. So it is no surprise when someone lacks in their holiday spirit, they’re often referred to as “The Grinch”. The nickname stems from a classic child’s story written by Dr.Seuss titled How The Grinch Stole Christmas. The Grinch is a household name and most will be able to tell you how the story goes. It starts off as the chaotic town of Whoville prepares for Christmas by decorating the streets and houses in lights and holiday cheer. Dr.Seuss makes it apparent in his story that Christmas is extremely important to all of Whoville. So when the notorious monster known as the Grinch comes into town, he attempts to ruin Christmas by removing any and all signs of holiday spirit. He is portrayed as a monster for many reasons. The purpose of this is to try and understand an entire culture through the analyzation of a monster.
The Grinch that most people are familiar with is the Grinch that is portrayed in the film titled How The Grinch Stole Christmas that was released in 2000. To understand this monster, it is essential to know what a monster is and what makes a monster. Using the Monster Theory by Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, it’ll help understand why many consider him a monster. To begin with, we’ll use thesis 3 to help explain. Thesis 3 explains that monsters are the harbinger of category crisis. They often don’t fall into categories that we can explain because it defies our logic and current knowledge. Monsters are dangerous because they’re disturbing to our mind. This is true for The Grinch because he’s a tall, smelly, green monster with rotten teeth. He looks nothing like The Who’s in Whoville so naturally, he’s casted as an outsider or a monster.
Despite being so different physically from the rest of The Who’s, he has many other characteristics that allow us to categorize him as a monster according to monster theory. In the fourth thesis titled, “The Monster Dwells at the Gates of Differences”, it is stated that the monster represents the outside from what is culturally, politically, racially, economically, and sexually normative. With that being said, it is no surprise that The Grinch is categorized as a monster because he despises Christmas in a world that idolizes it. The same is true for the world we live in today; if anyone talks negatively about Christmas they are automatically shunned and casted as an outsider and labeled a “Grinch”.
Critics of How The Grinch Stole Christmas share mixed feelings about the 2000 remake. In one review written by Jenn E Bryan, she explains that the 2000 remake is simply crude. Perhaps scenes in the movie that show The Grinch putting a dog’s butt upon the lips of the mayor while he’s sleeping makes it crude and unusual. Or perhaps the movie took it too far when it portrays The Grinch eating glass. One anonymous review states that the character is creepy and scary and has given their children nightmares. But in my opinion, that’s what makes a monster — a monster. And that’s what makes this movie a classic. Had The Grinch been friendlier, it wouldn’t have had a lasting impression on kids which is the targeted audience. Filmmakers constructed the movie in such a way that it makes it hard to forget certain scenes that seem “crude”. Hence, giving the children nightmares. Had this not been the case, the movie would’ve failed miserably at portraying a monster and ultimately tarnish the image of The Grinch as a monster.
Which brings me to the second thesis titled, “The Monster Always Escapes”. This thesis states that the impact/message of the monster is relative to the era it was released in. Each time the monster returns, it comes with a new message and warns of an important social and cultural phenomenon that needs to be addressed. The Grinch for example, was released in 2000 during an era of flashiness and power. This is why Betty Lou Who, who flaunts her Christmas lights is in constant competition with her neighbor for the flashiest decorations. When The Grinch removes every inch of Christmas decorations one night, it seems like all hope is lost. Perhaps the message is that it’s not the gifts and materialistic items that make up the holiday, it’s the company of the ones who matter that truly make a good holiday.
After examining The Grinch closely, we can understand that he represents a part of a culture that doesn’t glorify Christmas like the rest of society does. The Grinch forces his audience to re-evaluate the meaning of Christmas and challenges the common practices and traditions of the people. He’s vulgar and doesn’t fall into any categories that we know of. Physically, he’s completely different in that he’s huge, and covered in green hair that wreaks. Even something as innocent as a smile can be perceived as monstrous when describing The Grinch. It is for those reasons that he’s considered a monster.
Grazer, Brian, director. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)– Netflix
Cohen, Jeffrey. “Monster Culture (Seven Theses).” Englishwithtuttle.com, http://www.englishwithtuttle.com/uploads/3/0/2/6/30266519/cohen_monster_culture__seven_theses__3-20.pdf.
“ Common Sense Media.” Common Sense Media: Ratings, Reviews, and Advice, Common Sense Media, http://www.commonsensemedia.org/.