Friday, October 7, 2011

Monsterfest2011: Evolution

As part of the evolution of monsters in storytelling, we defang them, declaw them, and demystify them. We humanise them, which isn’t always a bad thing.  

It gives us werewolves who are just high school guys who want to play basketball. Or lacrosse, according to latest incarnation.

It gives us witches with boyfriend troubles and day jobs. 

And, tragically, it gives us vampires who drive Volvos and have prettier hair than me. Edward Cullen, I’m looking at you, you sparkly wuss. (I think I am most offended by the Volvo. Really, because a vampire needs the most famously safe car on the planet? If living forever and a predisposition for feeding on the blood of the innocent doesn’t entitle you to a classic Porsche Spyder, I don’t know what does.* God, why didn’t they just given him a Prius and be done with it?)
Hello, I'm a vampire. You'll have to take my word for it that I'm a predator because nothing that I say, do, or even drive will actually give an impression of danger.
The same has been done with the bunyip. I did a post on bunyips last time here. What once was a scary drag-you-down-and-drown-you monster has been...domesticated? Emasculated? Whatever the word I'm looking for, the bunyip has been made cuddly.

Alexander Bunyip was my friend. I know this because he had a TV show back in the eighties, and the theme song went "He's Alexander Bunyip, and he's our friend". I can’t actually find any of it online. Apparently bunyips shun media attention. I did, however find his Facebook page:

Alexander was the first non-scary bunyip I remember. He was pink and fuzzy and had fun adventures. I also remember a song they sang on Playschool that went "Bunyip, bunyip, YIP YIP YIP!" Those were the days...charged up on fruit cordial and Vegemite sandwiches, rampaging through the house screaming "YIP YIP YIP!" Actually, I might try that later on...

It's not always a bad thing to humanise our monsters. Maybe looking for the human inside the monster is also a way of looking for the monster inside our human selves. It's a way of looking at a story from another side, and that's a valuable lesson to learn. Do you remember the first time it occurred to you that Frankenstein was the real monster, not his creation? 

And it's not always a bad thing to make a monster cuddly. For every bunyip who chases you under the bunyip moon, there is an Alexander to save you. Just, please, for the love of all that's unholy, whatever you do to your monsters, just don't let them drive Volvos. 

* "Oh my God! Help, police! I'm being chased by a soulless blood-sucking monster driving a...a...holy crap, it's a Volvo. Yeah, it's definitely a Volvo. Don't worry about coming out. I can handle this myself." 


This post was brought to you by Sommer Leigh's MonsterFest2011. 
Check it out here: MonsterFest


  1. Love the reference to Teen Wolf, and very cool insight on Frankenstein - that light bulb never went on for me till now.

    And yeah, Alexander Bunyip looks like a philosophical pig. Not that there's anything wrong with that - he's quite cute - but not exactly something that would cause people to run screaming for their Volvos.

  2. I can't blame Edward for driving a Volvo, they run forever (at least the older ones do). Would you want to get a new car every few years because it keeps breaking down?

  3. I was just reading a post earlier tonight from someone who said he hadn't been properly scared by a book in a long time. I couldn't think of a single recommendation for him.

    That Bunyip is sorta cute :-)

  4. MC, no, there's nothing scary about Alexander! And I love Frankenstein -- the book, not the character. It's one of the rare books that was never ruined for me by studying it at uni until I wanted to rip my own brain out. Fire and ice and alternate feminist readings and the Romantics and science and horror...gah!

    @ Steph, that's true! I didn't think of that. If you're immortal, you probably want a car that will last a while! Still, "reliable" doesn't seem like a great fit for a vampire. In fact, a vampire should steal a new flash sports car every time he wants one. ACtually, why did Edward need a car at all when he could run so fast? Seems sort of pointless...

    @ Sarah, I can't remember the last scary book I read either!

  5. "Why did Edward need a car at all when he could run so fast?"

    I wonder that everytime I see a vampire driving (yet to fully read a vampire novel apart from my own).
    Maybe they get tired of running full-tilt everywhere. ^_^

  6. I totally agree about the Volvo thing. And now that the Cullen cars got mentioned so often in Twilight, a lot of MCs seem to end up with cars of a particular make. :P

    (Oh, and if you want a scary book with monsters, try The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey. That one threatened to give me bad dreams afterwards . . .)

  7. If I ever become a vampire, I'm thinking I need a Nissan Skyline GT-R, the car the Japanese police drive. And...I refuse to sparkle--SO not happening.

  8. Thanks for the recommendation Golden Eagle! I will check it out. And I'm so glad to know I'm not the only one who thought: "Volvo? Really?"

    @ Margo, now you're talking! And no, don't sparkle. You know what sparkles? Five year old girls dressed up for a fairy party. You know what not at all threatening? Five year old girls dressed up for a fairy party. Remember when vampires were predators? Sigh. Happy days.

  9. I've actually never heard of the bunyip! This and your previous MonsterFest post were highly entertaining.

    I was so busy being offended by the sparkles that I overlooked the Volvo. Whoops!

  10. Hi Shannon, I'm glad you liked the bunyip posts. When it comes to Edward, I think maybe -- just maybe if I treid really, really hard -- I could have got over the sparkle thing. But then they hit us with the Volvo (not literally, that would have been less painful) and I stopped trying.



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