Werewolves are well known monsters, from staring in Full Moon tall tales, to Halloween costumes, to movie depictions. Werewolves have always been seen as terrifying. Throughout time we have developed a form of love for horror stories with gruesome details. But we also use monsters as a form of entertainment whether in comedic skits, movies, or advertisements. Jeffrey Jerome Cohen focused on Monster Culture (seven theses),which states a little part of us desires the fear of the monster from the interaction. Michael Jackson’s short film and music video “Thriller” is a popular portrayal of a werewolf. Though the werewolf is not necessarily friendly, the viewers were pleased and loved this character. This relates to Cohen’s 6th theses labeled fear of the monster is really a kind of Desire. The thoughts behind the desire of a monsters is explored. The components to the “Thriller” video include werewolves, zombies, and nightmares. Although Jacksons Producers created a short horror flick as a music video he was still compelled to justify this creative video.
The Video starts with Michael on at date with a girl.Then the car runs out of gas so they start walking. All of a sudden the full moon becomes visible and Michael Jackson sees it. As the story goes a full moon equates to werewolf. When his transformation is complete the girl he’s on a date with runs away and falls. The scene cuts to the reality which Michael Jackson and his date are actually just watching a movie. When Michael Jackson starts laughing at his date she gets upset and leaves. In the next scene they leave the theater and the song starts. They get to a lot where the undead are and they began a dance routine which is the iconic dance moves to “Thriller”. Michael Jackson becomes a zombie at this point and his date runs away and she hides in a nearby house. He breaks down the door and the scene cuts back to reality again. Except in this Final Cut to reality she wakes up from an extensive nightmare. The music video ends with Jackson walking her out under his arm. As he turns to smile at the camera his eyes reveal he’s actually a werewolf.
Cohen p. 16 “the monster is continually linked to for breeding practices in order to normalize and enforce”. This quote from Monster Culture is saying that the ways and norms of a monster is taboo. It’s something we tend to cast away and not want our ourselves to act like. In the beginning of Jackson’s Thriller video he States,”due to my strong personal convictions I wish to stress this film in no way endorses a belief in the occult”. This reiterates the fact that we don’t want to be a monster. We simply want to fantasize about how they may be living fun and free lives. Michael Jackson smiles the most in the video when he realizes it’s a horror movie, when his date wakes up from the bad dream ,and when he looks behind his shoulder at the end of the film. “We distrust and loathe The Monster at the same time we Envy its freedom and perhaps it’s Sublime despair” Cohen p. 17 . This symbolizes and exercises the theory of living vicariously through a monster without actually wanting to be bad.
Year after year, Thriller continues to be on the top list of songs played by all persons around Halloween. It remains to be one of Michael Jackson’s most iconic songs that he’s most known for. Was it Jacksons charismatic personality that brought him the the top of the charts or was it the fascination behind a new kind of video where horror was considered entertaining Rather than terrifying? According to Billboard.com, Thriller sold nearly 30 million copies and won 7 awards at the grammys within the first two years of release. So if it’s not the fascination with the fictional monsters and being drawn to our fears, what’s keeping Thriller so popular more than 30 years later?
Early records of werewolves start back with Greek mythology. Beginning with the Legend of Lycaon. In this Legend Zeus turned his servant sons into werewolves as a form of punishment. Zeus then served remains of a servant’s body to his dinner guests(Cohen p.13). Werewolves have appeared in stories as serial killers and vicious animals that deserve to be put to death because of the gruesome acts. Werewolves were initially folk creatures of horror that stalk throughout the night, yet we start to grasp a different idea. An idea of lust for the desire of the forbidden.
In 2009 The Twilight Saga continued with its newest addition, New Moon. This movie portrays becoming werewolf as a form of puberty for Native American tribe. It shines light on how miserable it is to be a werewolf while simultaneously showing it can be sexy . Certain boys within the tribe go through a phase where they become werewolves and come out muscular by the end of the time they’re fully transformed into half werewolf half man.Cohen p. 17 ” through the bodies of the monsters fantasies of aggression domination and version are allowed safe expression in a clearly delimited and permanently liminal space”. Throughout the The Twilight Saga films the main character Bella often times is blown away by the dominance of her significant other which is also a monster. The main theme within New Moon is that her monster boyfriend leaves her she feels like her life is over. She gets an adrenaline rush by disobeying his orders from before he had left. This establishes the fascination of Domination by monster.
The series was initially written and aimed towards teenagers and young adults. It combines Dracula with Romeo and Juliet. Creating a love story where a human gets the monster. The turnout was people of all ages,including mothers and their daughters going to see this movie. They were wearing Team Edward and Team Jacob shirts. This movie was reaching to the majority of females . This monster trend continued with other forms of modern monster movies ,including a T.V show on Disney Channel called My Babysitter’s a Vampire, a line of Barbie dolls called Monster High dolls, and a children’s movie called Hotel Transylvania. The monster trend made the market boom in Monster merchandise. No matter what age there is some infatuation with monsters to an extent.
From Movie to music video, from book to toy the repeating trend is the infatuation of monsters. Cohen wrote a book on the thought process behind our obsession with these societal castaways by using six theses where he discusses our desire of monster. I was able to further breakdown the popularity behind Michael Jackson’s Thriller excluding his talent, and the obsession with the Twilight Saga. Cohen never States there is no other reason we like Monsters so not everyone has a deep down fantasy of monsters some simply enjoy the thrill, but then again could we ever be too sure what lurks in our subconscious?
Works Cited / annotated BIB
Cohen, Jefflrey. Monster Culture (Seven Thesis). University of Minnesota Press. 1996
Fach, Melissa. “#Twilight Saga and Breaking Dawn Stats [SEJ Infographic].” Search Engine Journal, Search Engine Journal, 19 Sept. 2015, http://www.searchenginejournal.com/twilight-saga-and-breaking-dawn-stats-infographic/36576/. Jackson, Michael.
History.com, A&E Television Networks, http://www.history.com/topics/folklore/history-of-the-werewolf-legend. Durchholz, Daniel.
“Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ At 30: Classic Track-By-Track Review.” Billboard, Billboard, 26 Feb. 2013, www.billboard.com/articles/news/473938/michael-jacksons-thriller-at-30-classic-track-by-track-review.
“Michael Jackson – Thriller (Official Video).” YouTube, YouTube, 2 Oct. 2009, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOnqjkJTMaA.
1-Cohen, Jefflrey. Monster Culture (Seven Thesis). University of Minnesota Press. 1996
-I pulled all my direct quotes from this reading and used it as the spine and backbone to my paper . I used thesis 6 to keep me from straying off topic from my thesis
2-Fach, Melissa. “#Twilight Saga and Breaking Dawn Stats [SEJ Infographic].” Search Engine Journal, Search Engine Journal, 19 Sept. 2015, http://www.searchenginejournal.com/twilight-saga-and-breaking-dawn-stats-infographic/36576/. Jackson, Michael.
-On this website I checked to see if the movies were popular amongst more than just people I knew, I researched how well the box office did opening day and the development of the gross income from this film.
3-History.com, A&E Television Networks, http://www.history.com/topics/folklore/history-of-the-werewolf-legend. Durchholz, Daniel.
-I used this website to further educate myself in werewolves and where they originated from doing deeper research on the monster I was discussing.
4-“Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ At 30: Classic Track-By-Track Review.” Billboard, Billboard, 26 Feb. 2013, www.billboard.com/articles/news/473938/michael-jacksons-thriller-at-30-classic-track-by-track-review.
-just as I checked the facts of profit for twilights I wanted to ensure the success and popularity of this song to make sure my claims were reputable and accurate before making them to ensure a successful paper.
5-“Michael Jackson – Thriller (Official Video).” YouTube, YouTube, 2 Oct. 2009, www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOnqjkJTMaA.
– I used a direct quote from the first 15 seconds of the video