Some Thoughts on Monsters

In general, monsters are something we avoid thinking about. For a select few, it's a matter of intrigue and fascination. Good or bad: we all have different relationships with monsters. Some of these monsters were used to scare children into obedience, like el Cuco or the Boogeyman. Legends, myths, and stories surround every culture and I can guarantee that ghost stories are abundant. From La Llorona to La Garita del Diablo, even Puerto Rican folklore is filled with monsters. Where do those stories come from? They can be the manifestation of our deepest desires, our fears or our collective worries.

For instance, a lot of people struggle with guilt that stems from their actions. Our actions have heavy identifiable consequences and sometimes it's hard to cope with those consequences. Some people try to blame their actions on others. Demons are excellent ways to take the blame away from yourself. They have two common functions: to demonize people or to take the blame for our actions. The demonization of people is often used as a coping mechanism that helps justify the horrors of war committed against the opposing side of a conflict, even though they're truly unjustifiable. By saying "The Devil made me do it", all blame is lifted from your shoulders and is moved onto a malignant force out of your control. 

This type of demon is usually depicted in the media as the devil on your shoulder telling you to ignore whatever it is the angel on the other side is saying. We see this a lot in children's cartoons like Looney Toons and other Disney animations or movies, like Flubber (1997). While these representations are more light-hearted, the repercussions of this kind of manifestation are more severe. 

Fear of having unresolved matters is also interesting to see. Ghosts stories are commonly seen in the vast majority of cultures. Ghosts tend to be stuck in a loop, repeating the same actions or moving the same things over and over until their soul is put to rest. Ghosts are the manifestation of the fear of leaving things undone since they didn't have a satisfactory time on Earth. It can be a sort of consolation that we might get a chance to finish our business here once we die, by becoming ghosts. And so we project these desires into the possibility of restless spirits. 

Ghost stories are frequently seen in media like television shows, books, comic books, and video games. While, stereotypically, ghosts are depicted as a floating blanket, they can also be represented as a translucent version of the people they were before they died, like in the Harry Potter series, or as regular people, like in American Horror Story. 

The case of the classic Godzilla is related to humankind’s power. Godzilla surges in 1954, nine years after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and is represented as this prehistoric reptile that has been affected by the nuclear radiation of the bombs and has grown in size and power. This monster is the embodiment of fear towards the power of nuclear destruction, which remains a relevant concern in today's Japan (due to the country being run partially on nuclear energy).

Witches, however, were very real. This “monster” came from men's fear of the empowered woman and the fear of "the Other". The fear of the Other is very much like xenophobia, it's fear of not knowing what can or can't a specific group does. In this case, the group was women; specifically, women that stood out for practicing herbal medicine or other forms of science.  A self-sufficient woman was unacceptable and illogical. By hunting a witch or a knowledgeable woman, one regained control and dominance over the population. So fear of the Other was eventually about controlling women. 

More recently we can see witches in movies like Hocus Pocus, The Craft, The Witch, and even in cartoons like Scooby-Doo. Witchcraft and things of that nature have become more popular in recent years. Particularly with a feminist approach, seen in the phrase "we're the granddaughters of the witches you failed to burn".

Monsters go hand in hand with the fears that inspired them. And they teach us of past cultures and how those legends and myths are still reflected in today's media. As Danika Lee Massey said, monsters are the "external manifestation of internal conflict".