Horror and Fairy Tales: “Halloween” (1978) and “Wes Craven’s New Nightmare” (1994)

Perhaps the most important lesson for a young girl is on her emerging sexuality- like death and taxes, the biological clock cares not if one is ready for it to strike. When a girl goes through puberty, suddenly making her sexually viable for adult men, not only does her body change but as does the way the world reacts to her. It becomes possible that the same man who had treated her with genuine care and empathy now has his own biologically-driven agenda- complete with duplicitous intentions. Watch a clumsy man talk confidently to a child but fumble nervously with a sexually mature woman- also with puberty comes power.

However, not every lesson can be taught. One learns to be patient only through experience- patience is a lesson that cannot be taught. While you can try to tell a little girl on the cusp of puberty that her world is about to change, drastically, and that this new world comes with its share of dangers, it may be easier for her to process this through the subconscious language of the fairy tale.

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Homosexuality as Suburban Invasion in “A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge” (1985)

Under the fascist progressive American regime, the rainbow flag has replaced the swastika. Like store-owners with Nazi flags in their shop windows, modern corporations trip over one another to signal the rainbow- “signal the rainbow, stay under the radar,” they say. There was something admirable in the state’s declaration of homosexual normalization in that it left no room for interpretation. The White House was drenched in the rainbow, all power-players in the American landscape had better get their troops in check, and so it goes down the line.

While top down power will garner compliance, it isn’t something that changes hearts and minds– this is the job of the woman.

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The Entitled Boomer and “Vacation” (1983)

“I found out long ago, it’s a long way down the holiday road”

Believe it or not, Clark W. Griswold was pretty fucking masculine. Sure, “Vacation” (1983) featured a kind of proto-idiot Dad, a trope that would become the standard by 1990- but Clark was a different kind of idiot Dad.

Clark was a masculine idiot Dad.

“Vacation” relied on one-joke with Clark, but luckily it was a good one. When Clark would do something stupid, royally screwing things up or putting his family in danger, he would say “I meant to do that” and move on.

This took many different forms. When Clark goes to trade in his car for a new station wagon before the trip- one he surely researched meticulously (my own Dad has a  “Consumer Reports” subscription to this day)- he gets the old “bait and switch,” being forced into buying an ugly clunker after his own car is traded in destroyed. To dispute this by waiting for the car he ordered to come in would ruin his family’s vacation- so what does Clark do?

He sells his wife on the ugly clunker by using the same line that the scam-artist car salesman used on him: “You may think you hate it nowhoney, but wait until you drive it.” Or, in other words, “I meant to do that.” He isn’t apologetic, he doesn’t admit defeat- he takes inventory of the situation and moves forward. This is the masculine approach- yes, even if you’re an idiot.

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Burying Your Father and “Return of the Jedi” (1983)

Re-watching “Return of the Jedi” (1983) as an adult makes the scene where Luke burns the body of his father stand out as the true climax of the original trilogy- the culmination of Luke’s journey. While it may seem tragic that sister Leia wasn’t there beside him, this was something Luke had to do alone. After all, it was only Luke who saw the human face of his father and felt his humanity- and aside from the situational limitations of the movie’s plot, only Luke would have ever been able to understand his father on that level. Luke delivering his father’s funeral was his final rite of passage into manhood, and the true return of the Jedi.

Every man will have to bury his father, but will every man have understood his father when the time comes? The evolution of a man’s relationship with his father mirrors Luke’s struggle with Vader throughout the course of Star Wars- from not truly knowing him through the inevitable conflict of a young man’s teenage years. If you’re lucky you’ll have a moment where the pieces come together and you see your father as a part of yourself- but not everyone gets there… and, unlike a Hollywood movie, the story may end first.

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Looks Blue, Tastes Red: “Super” (2010)

I’ll go full red pill on the first date. To her credit, she listened carefully to what I had to say. When it came time for her response, she answered with the kind of pride one would have in beating Ganon at the end of “Legend of Zelda”- accomplishment and triumph; her victory moment. You see, everything I said was “just my narrative,” and it was as if these words unified the triforce and slayed the dragon- my argument lay defeated.

“Narrative” has become a pseudo-intellectual weasel word. If you don’t like the slant someone puts on something, it’s “just narrative.” If the narrative sounds appealing, it’s only due to the carefully constructed internal logic; a well-made narrative will closely adhere to this logic. At its core a narrative is constructed upon assumptions, which makes it narrative rather than reality- a good narrative will carefully hide these assumptions.

In a world increasingly torn apart by the oppositional forces of the political left and right, the term “narrative” has become a jab to the other side’s version of things; an attack on the strength of their reality.

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The Narrative of Heartbreak and “Big” (1988)

In a flash Fake Winehouse was able to transform our hetero-normative experience back into something she was more comfortable with, her own safe space of gender neutrality, with the magic words: “get this shit off me.” Tossing her the tissue box, I chastised her for breaking the narrative, something usually reserved for slightly longer than fifteen seconds after sex.

Winehouse may have rolled her eyes, but the fact of the matter remains: sex is the narrative of attraction. For the red-hot 20 minutes I spent with Amy, she behaved like the ideal submissive- what she wanted in the moment. After, when her big girl brain came back, the feminist became disgusted with herself, and, “get this shit off me,” was her way of re-framing the mess she’d made by treating me like an alpha male.

Sex is like editing together a documentary film. Everything is based in reality, but it’s up to you to put together the story. Initial attraction may be there, but if you don’t string things together the right way, you’re not getting laid.

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Amber Waves: Female Sexuality and “Boogie Nights” (1997)

Modern black magic is understanding human nature. In a world of unreality where people are unconscious to the invisible currents that guide them, having the ability to identify these forces can allow you to tell a tremendous amount about someone from a few scant details. Street hustlers and psychics have exploited this idea for years, because it works; we are not unique snow-flakes, we are predictable animals.

Take a family where the mother is much prettier than her daughters- what does that tell you? The mother traded her beauty to marry a genetically-inferior beta-male with money and ended up with snaggled halfie daughters. The woman does not respect her husband-she resents him- and this unhappiness manifests itself in perpetual anger and passive-aggression where she subtly attempts to destroy all those around her.

Beta-dad entered the relationship with the best intentions, unconscious to the fact that he was defeated from the outset. After years of his confidence being eroded through his demon-wife’s poison drip of emasculation, he fluctuates between anger and shame, and thinking that maybe giving more, listening more, and being more empathetic may turn it all around and fix the relationship… All while his wife longs for the memory of the last big-dicked real man who made her tingle.

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Authenticity and “The Cable Guy” (1996)

There was a gleam in her eye when “Ghostbusters” (2016) came up in the group’s discussion. She corrected the speaker, a male, who didn’t make an elaborate point to reference the movie’s notorious gender component- “the new Ghostbusters” he offhandedly called it, but this was “girl Ghostbusters,” she said with pride. After all, she was a high school Science teacher and this was a victory with which she could attach herself.

This attachment was the point, existing independently of the movie. She may not see it, nor should she have to- her attachment to “girl Ghostbusters” had served to bolster her identity. The actual film is an afterthought- a big budget leftist talking point. Beyond all the fuss, “Ghostbusters” is a pile of crap with regurgitated jokes, so who really cares?

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2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and the Nature of Evolution

Kubrick’s stunning “2001: A Space Odyssey,” made at the tail-end of the 1960s, carries with it a presumption that is often taken for granted: the evolution of human nature is possible to guide, and can be commanded at will. While Kubrick is correct in the assertion that Western culture has had its share of monolithic moments, I can quite clearly imagine a shrieking monolith standing at the gates of the All Saints’ Church, this assertion is inseparably tied to the idea that these moments were architectured by an inherent intellectual superiority and are of unquestionable morality.

When apes find the first Monolith, they gain the ability to use tools; tools build civilizations, however unrefined those civilizations may initially be. Thousands of years later, “2001” sits at the dawn of the space-age and this kind of growth is a thing of beauty. The human race took from their surroundings what was needed and made of it something more. They used whatever means necessary; in this regard, the sum is infinitely greater than cost of the parts.

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Beta Anxiety and the Vampiric Alpha in “Dracula” (1931)

The best horror isn’t low-brow schlock; the most effective horror plays on the subconscious anxieties of its audience. Most people need some degree of delusion to get to sleep at night; denial of death, denial of change, the affirmation of safety, the affirmation of identity. Without willful ignorance a person would be overwhelmed by life.

Horror pierces that nerve within the controlled environment of fiction; where the stakes are imaginary but the emotional ride can feel real.

If a child’s greatest fear is parential adbandomnent, and a woman’s greatest fear is sexual violation by an undesirable, a man’s greatest fear is his disposability; a man is only worth as much as the value he is able to contribute- if this value dissipates, the man is rendered worthless.

The unconfident beta-male lives in a constant state of fear that he will be rendered worthless to his woman; apt for disposal and replacement. The beta-male fears the confident, experienced Alpha male. He fears a future where the attractive Alpha may take fleeting interest in his woman, and he fears a past where his woman has experienced what it’s like to be with a real man– she knows the difference and secretly snickers at the beta-male’s pathetic little cock.

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