I saw something appalling on Netflix, and simply must register my complaint. It has to do with the normalization . . . of evil!
No, it’s not Sabrina, which has a character called Lady Satan. There’s some A-class reimagining for you. Buzzfeed loved the show and positively absolutely can’t even and they’re stanning the characters HARD and so on, although they at least admit that the main character is played by an actress (the daughter from Mad Men) who seems to be acting, strenuously. I’m sure that show makes the eeeeevil characters relatable AF, as they say, because we like our monsters to be nice. Evil, but not really. Sorta kinda damned, because that’s hawt? But mostly we like them to be dark and edgy and slay mad lewks.
This started with the Addams Family / Munsters - maybe earlier, if you want to include Abbott & Costello movies. The monsters were stripped of their horror and turned into comic objects, which humanized them. Herman Munster goes to work with a briefcase, just like dad! But the humanity was always there; it’s what makes Frankenstein’s Monster so pathetic in the original movies, and what makes the Werewolf so tragic.
Eventually we tired of bringing them down to our level, so characteristics were added that made them more interesting than us. Smarter, more attractive, appealingly tortured. What got lost was their monstrousness, their inhumanity, their sociopathic disregard for people. From Nosferatu to, oh, I don’t know, a cuddly ballerina called Nosferatutu?
Or . . . this.
What I saw on Netflix was a promo for their Halloween show, which ran all the old Christmas tropes. It’s the most wonderful day of the year! With presents! And fun! But oh no - something’s gone wrong, and they have to - all together now - SAVE HALLOWEEN. They even have a Santa figure. Kindly man with white beard.
I know, I know, I’m not the target market. But at some point kids have to learn that monsters are not your friends.
They have to learn from guys like Spooky Ooky.
Oh, I forgot to post some Vintage Halloween Stuff. All I have this year are some ads from the lousy cheap magazines of my youth - the rags with the bad ads in the back. I wasn’t interested in horror; all those Hammer movies with Lee and Cushing bored me. Overlit and saturated in the style of the day, slow. Never grabbed me. Maybe Pit and the Pendulum. Of course, Sardonicus, the only Castle film I’ll admit to loving.
So the ads left me cold. Although I did buy this.
||The Vampire Blood I used at Camp one year, faking an injury. It was confiscated.
||Not much radium! Hardly any radium at all. Well, quite a lot of radium, actually
BLOODY RED AND NASTY
YOU’LL NEVER KNOW A WOMAN’S TOUCH
And now, something for the kids in the audience who really didn't cotton much to all that Bible talk:
“No mystical powers are claimed” for this soil. But what “Draculean Disciple” wouldn’t thrill to the sight and feel special?
The copy goes from SOIL to (dust) at some point, but I guess if you’re a Draculean, dust itself sounds spooky and potent.
When I was a kid Halloween was short and simple, and the adults gave it little thought. Kids wanted to be superheroes with those horrible plastic masks, known for their choking smell and cheap elastic. Adults would never worry about wearing an offensive costume, because adults didn't wear costumes. Oh, I've seen my dad dress up as a rustic or bum for some event, a gag, but they regarded Halloween as a chidren's event.
Now that it's not, the adults have to worry about the adults who don't worry enough the right things. This got lots of play on Twitter last week, mostly for its self-satisfied finger-wagging, and reminder that “dear white people,” when spoken by white people, gives an instant dispensation to disregard the speaker.
You can't dress up as another culture.
Q: can African-Americans with no ties to Jamaica dress up as Bob Marley?
You could say sure, all the people in this hemisphere came from the same continent, doesn’t matter if their ancestors were transported to Jamaica or the United States. But the two countries have different cultures. It’s like saying that white people with Scandinavian roots can dress up in Leiderhosen and a hat with a feather and carry around a stein, because it's all Northern Europe.
They can, of course; no one polices that. But if you get a pass for dressing up as someone from your continent of origin, then a person of Swedish extracton can dress up as a Spaniard, right? But you cannot dress up as a Spaniard, or someone of Spanish ancestry, who was in a specific location at a specific time, i.e., Mexico. If you’re of French ancestry, you cannot be Pancho Villa.
But what if your family in France lived close to the Spanish border, and your 23 & Me test showed you had 31% Spanish DNA? Would that be okay? You’d have to bring the DNA test to the party in case you were confronted, but even then it wouldn’t work. Pancho Villa belongs to that peculiar American hemisphere group of people who somehow stopped being colonialists and conquerors and became, well, you know, the people who live down there. It was a neat trick, one of the more interesting sleight-of-hands I’ve seen. You rarely hear people talk about how Mexico was stolen from the Indians.
If you are of Mexican origin, would anyone brace you at a party if you went as an Aztec priest? At least the same way people would be horrified if a white guy went as a Native American shaman?
I know, I know - it’s all about demeaning caricatures. No one’s dressing up as a Sioux warrior to communicate their Deep Respect for indigenous cultures. But no one’s dressing up as a Sioux warrior anyway, not anymore. I don’t even remember if “Indian” was one of the options when I was a kid - I went as a hobo, which would be unacceptable now. The cultural cliche of the cheerful lazy fellow who goes on the bum and wanders the land with a bindle over his shoulder, smoking a cigar lanced with a toothpick, that’s gone.
My point isn’t that people should wear redface or put on sombreros and say ay yi yi Frito Bandito style. It’s the idea that A) our betters feel the need to lecture the rest of us idiots, and B) everyone is being herded into “lanes” as if culture is a bowling alley instead of a rugby scrum. Cultural appropriation is nonsense, for the most part, and the people policing this stuff are obsessed with race. History is just a box of LEGOs they can assemble as they please, and the future they want is one where I hear “dear white people” and I' supposed to think they’re talking about me.
I think they’re talking about who they think I am. As I’ve said over and over: when you make an assumption, you make an ass out of U, and Mption.
We return to the utterly generic story of . . .
Yes, Dr. Layton, who is really the Purple Monster, tries to drop a car on Craig Foster.
What a surprise
But Purps / Layton hides, so Foster doesn’t know he was behind it, and takes him back to his lab. Now what? Remember, Purps blew up the prototype of the rocket he needs, burned up all the fuel, destroyed his own death ray and blew up the lab with his photoelectric cell. At this point I’d just say give the guy the reins and he’ll blow himself up before he can perfect the rocket that will allow Mars to invade Earth.
Well, it turns out there’s a scientist who has developed a new machine that helps with respiratory problems, and Layton realizes that’s just what the rocket will need for its engines in the stratosphere, ergo Purps will try to get it. So he warns the doctor.
The doctor says Why are you calling me, we have a lunch at noon. Because someone had called and said “I’m Craig Foster, can we have lunch?” A devious scheme by the Purple Monster to draw him away from his lab!
Then we go back to the lab to see Purps do the leaving-Layton’s-body trick, because I guess he thinks it’ll be easier to steal something if he goes out in public looking like this.
He has an electronic torch now. By the way, it seems he’s actually getting the jet rocket built, much to my surprise. We go back to the lab, and discover that Uncle Scientist Layton ISN’T DEAD; I called that. His niece finds him in a comatose state and concludes it was the work of the Purple Monster.
Because there are only seven people in any serial.
Back at the other scientist’s lab, which is apparently in an apartment building, Purps comes in through the window - and Foster gets the drop on him.
Yeah, no, not finally. Niece Sheila calls Layton at the scientist’s apartment building, which is stupid; she knew he was waiting for the Purple Monster; why screw that up? Foster says “call the ambulance, we have stock footage of the gurney flying out the back of the vehicle.” Well, no, but I expect that’s coming. Alas, his guard is down for a second:
That’s not very effective. A rather desultory fistfight occurs, but it does have this nice setpiece:
Eventually the dreaded Purple Monster knocks him out, kills him, and takes the device he’d come to steal. Right? Nah:
He calls his minions and says “his entire plan is in danger,” because they’re taking Dr. Uncle Layton to the hospital. A plan must be set in motion! He stops the ambulance at gunpoint, as Martias are wont to do; meanwhile Foster runs towards the scene, and Niece Shiela tries to get the gun away from the Purple Monster. Drive away! she screams to the ambulance driver.
Did I say I thought Dr. Uncle Scientist was still alive? I’m thinking . . . maybe not.
So boo etc; enjoy. See you around.
Oh, and in case you missed it: