Good Example Of Essay On How Does Society Produce Its Monsters?
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Fear comes in many forms and likens itself to a growing cancer that cannot be contained. Modern day fear-mongering has taken shape as the face of evil looms large. Media reports tell of the vilest, chilling, and most vicious crimes of the day that seem beyond the realm of human comprehension. In one city, a shooter enters a school and unleashes his wrath on unsuspecting innocent children and teachers. In the same moment overseas, terror groups are conquering territories, kidnapping, raping and pillaging women and children and releasing graphic videos of beheadings and desecration of sacred monuments, buildings, and national symbols. As a nation we remain gripped in terror by what we see and hear. Will ISIS enter the United States and attempt to take over? Will a lone gunman suddenly appear out of nowhere in a movie theatre and open fire? These are the questions we ask ourselves on a daily basis as our security is threatened both home and abroad.
How did we get to this place? The attacks on 9/11 changed the scope of how we perceive safety and created a heightened awareness that has caused many to look over their shoulders at every turn. It goes beyond the fears of domestic and international terrorism, however. We have fears of other things within our society that dictate our beliefs, feelings, and emotions. Issues such as same-sex marriage, uncommon diseases, and a growing sensitivity to cultural changes in general all have added to the landscape of societal fears. Society’s production of monsters was derived out of monstrosity which has always been a part of society.
Monstrosity has had a prominent place within society since the beginning of time. The line between monstrosity and monsters can be difficult to define. In one sense the word monsters represents a being that is feared and misunderstood. We have seen this often in horror movies from Frankenstein and the Thing, to vampires and werewolves, to Jason, Freddie, and Michael. The commonality is that these fictitious characters incite fear within us even though we know they are not real. According to Tenga & Zimmerman (2014), the use of vampires and zombies in literature and movies do so to incite horror within us. They also serve as a harsh reminder that “embodies fear of loss of self and individuality” (Tenga & Zimmerman).
Monstrosities are devised to restore or control order within societies much in the same way fictitious characters work to produce a ‘fear me or else’ complex within us all. As Amit S. Rai (2004) describes it, “monsters gave birth to modernity.” In the eighteenth century, the term monstrosity grew out of “discursive practices that tied racial and sexual deviancy to an overall apparatus of discipline” (Rai). From there, it emerged in the nineteenth century to biopolitics.
The connection between monstrosities and biopolitics work in conjunction to bring about order and control. This is achieved by social controls within society. Some of these include hospitals, universities, prisons, mental institutions, and manufacturing facilities. In every facet, disciplinary powers oversee the rest of the masses to enforce controls “by structuring the parameters and limits of thought and practice, sanctioning and prescribing normal and/or deviant behaviors” (Rai). Thus, in turn, society becomes one of control and is manipulated to conform to these controls.
We see the rivalry among good and evil all throughout literature. For example, “The Nun’s Priest’s Tale” tells the story of a rooster named Chanticleer who dreams of being hunted and murdered by a beast as he describes, “Much like a hound, who would have at the least Laid hold of me and left me cold and dead” (Chauncer). He shares the dream with his love interest, a hen by the name of Pertelote, who dismisses it and tells Chanticleer that she believes he has dreamed that because he is sick and urges him not to be disturbed by something as illusory as a dream. Chanticleer cannot shake the dream and claims that dreams are premonitions and murder is one thing that reveals itself through dreams. As the reader soon learns, Chanticleer encounters a fox that looks very much like the beast in his dream. The fox attempts to outsmart Chanticleer and grabs him when he least expects it. Chanticleer eventually gets free but for a time the fox had the upper hand.
In William Baldwin’s (1570) “Beware the Cat”, it is aptly titled as its main character is a female cat named, Mouse-slayer, who is on trial for not obeying the laws of the cat world and for feigning her admirer’s advances. The cats in the story hold seemingly human-like characteristics, but are merely cats acting like cats who are dealing with human-like real-world issues. The cats are possessed with evil powers that grants them the ability to overpower everything in its sight. They attack and eat other animals and cunningly strike up a conversation with a soldier and his assistant and con them out of their food. The cats then turn on everything in their wake. The story was a satire befitting to Catholicism during Baldwin’s time. The reference to “Our Lady” in the story is symbolic for the Mother Mary and is described in this way, “yet kept she one of Our Lady in her coffer” (Baldwin). This literary work is more than just about fictitious cats using their evil powers to destroy its enemies. The underlying theme supports the Catholic Church as being all-powerful and unable to be destroyed.
Literary works the world over have a protagonist/antagonist element to their plots. Since the beginning of time, good and evil have been at war with one another; both jockeying for a position of domination. According to Peter Bloom (2014), the current age is rife with murders, deviant acts, and crime like never before. Out of society monsters are created. In another vein, monsters are everywhere. Monsters occupy the government. Greed is a monster in its own right as was never more evident than the financial collapse and crises over the past decade.
Hollywood has presented monsters as creatures with a soul. Society’s portrayal of monsters has become less sinister. The monsters of modern-day movies such as “Monsters” and “Shrek” show lovable creatures with feelings. Add vampire and zombie fan favorites, “The Walking Dead” and “True Blood”, and these derelicts of society are given a moral compass to go along with their evil ways. Bloom describes it this way, “the charge of monstrousness has been popularly reconfigured into a call for tolerance and the broader need to foster cultural diversity.”
Such is the way of the world in our time. The liberal-minded media spins most everything that crosses the news wire, inciting fear among the masses. The same can be said for how it portrays cultural themes of gender, religion, and politics. Everyone has a viewpoint and opinion about everything that is often swayed one way or the other by the media. The saying, “we’ve created a monster” is no understatement. The smallest, most trivial of things can be embellished into the big things that permeate society to its very core. Once an idea or ideology is presented to the masses as a test for social conditioning, it is only a matter of time before it takes hold and erupts into a full-blown media wildfire.
For example, the Ebola scare of last fall had the American public on high alert as the media reported on a daily basis for weeks about the cases of Ebola that had crossed borders from international countries into the United States. Public awareness was raised as to just how life-threatening a disease Ebola truly is. Precautions were taken at hospitals across the U. S. in the event there was a major outbreak; so the media would have the public believe. Additionally, the media also enhanced the scare tactics by reporting that major hospitals were not as prepared for an Ebola outbreak as was previously thought. Then almost as quickly as the Ebola scare became headline news, it quietly disappeared. Many thought the Ebola story was the “October surprise” of the upcoming political election. Although there were reported cases of Ebola in the U. S., the numbers were few, but the hype was immense. It remains to be seen or known if the Ebola scare was really a legitimate crisis or simply the media’s and government’s way of distracting the masses away from the upcoming election. No matter the reasons, the social conditioning of society through scare tactics worked. And it has time and time again.
In nearly every major crisis there is a culprit that lies at the core. That culprit is fear. Fear is an effective means of control. Whether it is a gunman opening fire on a movie theatre in Colorado, on a military base, or in a shopping mall, people become afraid for their lives, wondering if it can happen in Colorado or Texas if it can also happen where they reside. Whether it is a disease like Ebola, a rare strain of the flu, or any malady with epidemic potential, it creates fear among the masses.
Indeed the media has become a catalyst for promoting fear among society. After all, if it is seen or heard on the news, it has to be accurate and real. Right? But is the media not one of society’s own worst enemies? The media much like the sinister cats in “Beware the Cat” has evil powers of its own. It can sway the masses with its sensationalism. It has controlled the minds of individuals leaving them with no reason to fact-check anything and to accept all things at face value. As time marches on, the public has become an accepting, diversified culture of any and all things. Is it any wonder that we now embrace vampires and zombies that once were to be feared?
The media is also responsible for giving a voice to many of society’s cultural issues and has been very successful as a driving force behind dividing and conquering the masses. Issues of religion, race and politics have torn society apart. The era of political correctness has enabled that which was once thought of as being wrong to now be deemed right. As society strives to embrace cultural phenomenon as the new normal, it has seen an increase in deviant behaviors, crime, lawlessness, prejudice, hatred, and evil. Society in its efforts to resist and reduce fear has fallen victim at the hands of it. The moral decay that has pervaded society has extended an open hand to fear without even realizing it. Instead of overcoming fears, society has created its own monsters.
It does not stop there. Once an ideology takes root in the minds of society, then it has the leverage it needs to progress. According to Bloom (2014), “monsters increasingly stand as a positive and radical force for challenging the conformity and repression of daily social and organizational life.” That being the case, fear is not always the assumed tactic for getting the masses on board. Sometimes ideas are presented in such a way to society to give the impression that there is an inherent need for something in particular.
Universal health care is one such example. The public was led to believe that every individual needed to have health care to reduce the soaring costs of healthcare. Empty promises were made with the proverbial carrot dangling in front of the masses to convince them that this was the way of the future, needed to happen, and providing a false sense of security to the unsuspecting public. Society bought into the mantra and yet, once again, the public was duped. The promises made where nowhere close to being representative of what was touted or expected. Now society is paying the high price of universal healthcare with a vengeance.
Society has bred all kinds of monsters that are disguised as accepted norms. Ludwig Lavater (1596) speaks to this in his famous work, “Of ghostes and spirites, walking by night: and of straunge noyses, crackes, and sundrie forewarnings: which commonly happen before the death of men: great slaughters, and alterations of kingdoms.” Lavater’s prose seemed to elicit the gravest of predictions of things to come. Evil lurks in the shadows waiting and watching for its prime opportunity to strike. It is not prejudice. It does not care who it destroys. The only concern it has is ensuring it maintains power over all. In this passage, Lavater reminds us that we are given fair warning as to the terrors that threaten society. Sometimes these things cannot be seen, expected, or predicted. In many instances there is always a precursor to the outcomes that the monsters of society reveal to us. Great men and kingdoms fall at the hands of monstrosities. Within monstrosities monsters reside.
How does society produce its monsters? It does so in the most cunning and slyest of ways. It does so by manipulating mindsets, ideologies, morals, and beliefs in order to progress its agendas. It does so by gaining control of the minds of society and presenting itself in such a way that the masses become blinded to truths and reality. Society has become its own worst enemy in its quest for liberation, justice, peace, and truth. It has succumbed to the political correctness that dictates the societal norms. The monsters produced by society and unleashed on the masses incite fear instead of eliminate it. Today’s monsters have become an integral part of society. The masses would dare cease to exist without them. The monstrosities that have pervaded society are so large that there is nothing that can defeat or eliminate them. They are here to stay. The cancer continues to grow and there is little, if anything that can stop it. If only society’s biggest threats were the villains seen in movies or on television. If only.
Baldwin, William. Beware the Cat. London: 1570. Print.
Bloom, Peter. “We’re all monsters now! A Marxist critique of liberal organization and the need for a revolutionary monstrous humanism.” Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal 33.7 (2014): 662-680. Emerald Insight. Web 10 Apr. 2015.
Chauncer, Geoffrey. The Canterbury Tales. London: 1400. Print.
Lavatar, Ludwig. Of Ghosts and Spirits. London: 1596. Print.
Rai, Amit S. “Of monsters: Biopower, terrorism and excess in genealogies of monstrosity.” Cultural Studies 18.4 (2004): 538-570. EbscoHost. Web. 10 Apr. 2015.
Tenga, Angela, and Elizabeth Zimmerman. "Vampire gentlemen and zombie beasts: a rendering of true monstrosity." Gothic Studies 15.1 (2013): 76+. Academic OneFile. Web. 10 Apr. 2015.
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