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Carlie Nevils English 1102 /Mrs. Redding Final Copy/ The Need for Monsters 26 January 2012 “Envisionment of A Good Life is Brought by Monsters” The two articles “Monsters and the Moral Imagination”, and “Monster-Making: A Politics of Persuasion”, Stephen T. Asma and Edward Ingebretsen both state in their articles that a person can describe “monsters” in numerous ways based on his/her viewpoint. Although we can view them differently, our infatuation with “monsters” and horror stories is in direct proportion to the anxiety we feel about the instability in our modern lives; the economy, terrorism, war, and many more unsettling events that cause fear. This feeling simply means that “new monsters” are equivalent to our own fears. Violent Criminals and Catastrophic Events have become known as “new monsters”, because of the distress it brings into our lives. Ingebretsen tells us the story of Jeffrey Dahmer’s case. Dahmer is a violent criminal, who took out his anger by murdering fifteen people. (26). Since our country has been in a recession more people are recognizing this tragic event to be a “new monster” as well. However, in the old days, when instability meant hunger, disease, and basically learning to survive, the ancient monster served as a symbol of peoples’ fears. This means they did not consider the ancient monster to be one of their realistic problems they faced. The old, more typical “ancient monsters” were known as: Dracula or Frankenstein. Dracula and Frankenstein are two strange, abnormal “monsters” that we consider to be unrealistic, and far from the “norm”. Though the function of “monsters” have altered from serving as a symbol in the past, to becoming the actual realistic problem. Either way


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the monster is categorized they are still seen as the one thing that brings fear to our everyday lives, yet we can not live or cope without them. Asma states, “Our monster fetish deals with the hard economical times we are going through.” (Asma 1). Asma focuses on the psychological thoughts in which we view “monsters” and how we cope with the interaction between oneself and the monster. (1). He first talks about “new monsters”, and centers the topic of his article around real life experiences. For example, we have the obsession with monsters because we fear everyday of another 9/11 attack happening. Asma believes we cope with these negative feelings by increasing our day-to-day interaction with more destructive news, taking our minds to other negative problems besides our own. (2). Ingebretsen states, “Ongoing stability of any society depends upon the presence of monsters those unfortunates whom social regulatory systems fail.” (25). He simply means,stable societies depend on monsters. Humans rely on these monsters in their life to help them cope with their social problems. Another way to cope with our “monsters” is the media. It has a way of drawing us in to continuous drama that tends to surround our society. Media’s ability to progressively show the dreadful news is being able to alter and surge our thoughts on monsters. Ingebretsen tells us the heart rending Susan Smith Story. (27). Susan Smith was a selfish woman and mother especially to her own two kids, which she drowned. She said the reasoning for her actions is because, her kids would not have a good life anyway. (27) Smith’s story was in newspapers, magazines, and on all of the news channels. It is sad to say that humans depend on things such as Susan Smith’s terrible story. Humans depend on these types of monsters to be able to see the good in themselves and compare their situations to ones worse than their own. Everyone that heard about this murder was so fascinated with the Smith Case because, Susan Smith’s story was beyond


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harsh, yet it captivated everyone's attention, and put their own difficulties to the side. She is now thought out to be one the most “ideal” modern monsters, thanks to the media’s contribution.

We may view monsters differently, but our mad obsession with monsters and horror culture both rely on more and more negative situations to help us avoid our own monsters. Whether they be “new” or “ancient” we all judge monsters negatively and give them a bad vibe, yet we crave and desire more of them. Asma states, we are in control of how we imagine monsters. (2). The continuous feeling of the unwanted monster happens to be our own fears. Fears that we cannot overcome. The torture of this is typically when a human remains scared he tends to become vulnerable. He then may get aggressive and have a major adrenaline rush to see what is going on. During this time he is not responsible for most of his actions, but tends to enjoy the energy, which it makes him feel. The monsters that do die relieve us from our fear, but our own thoughts and feelings affect the way we imagine “monsters”, because we are in control of what we fear. However, Ingebretsen defines in detail that the media affects the way we imagine monsters. (28). When we turn on the news all we hear about is how the economy is steadily failing and how the crime rate is rapidly increasing. For Example we always complain about all the negative events going on in our life. We continue to stress about one event everyday, gas prices continuously going up, yet we chose to go home and hear more about the high cost of living on TV. Ingebretsen and Asma both state the way we imagine monsters affects the way we cope with them. Whether it be our fears from Asma’s point of view or Ingebretsen’s thought of the media draining us with more negative news. We have the power to control when we have had enough.


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We have such fear of monsters; yet continue to seek more and more horror events. As stated in Ingebretsen’s article, “The stories of both failure or success lead us to imagining our culture's monsters.” (26). He means that even people that are successful can lead up to a monstrous situation, just as people that tend to fail can also lead to a monstrous situation. In addition to Ingebretsen’s quote, Asma also explains why monsters are important and always seem to be with us through our success and failure. (2). Asma states, "In a significant sense, monsters are a part of our attempt to envision the good life or at least the secure life". (2). This makes sense to me because, when I am going through a hard time I always tend to envision the absolute worst possible outcome. Then, when the outcome is not as bad as I had thought it would be, I am relieved. In this case, the monster is my own negative thoughts taking over. Both success and failure can take role in our monster culture along with, having to deal with the worst before we are able to encounter the best. (Ingebretsen 26). Ingebretsen’s Horror stories that were stated were all over the news. They were able to open many eyes so we can be aware of our surroundings. The media sensationalizes or exaggerates events, whether it is the truth or if they have to stretch the truth to get our attention. This intrigues us to not be able to get enough of these monsters among us. With the stories of Susan Smith and Jeffery Dahmer, we now know that they are warning us how not to be. We as humans would struggle with the thought of knowing right from wrong, and lose the principle understanding of how to act appropriately. These monstrous news stories are generally ruling the world, which is scary because we are gaining knowledge from these monsters on how to act. In contrast to Ingebretsen’s view that outside sources like the media dictate our view of monsters, Asma’s psychological lense shows how we individually need monsters. (3). Asma concludes we seem to first become scared, vulnerable, threatened, and we may even be


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diagnosed with an emotional disorder. If we finally do overcome this inner monster such as, our negative thoughts we will go through a hero phase. (3). When these scary things are over we are trying to cope with the fact of getting over this monster. We will tend to ask, "Why didn't you stop the monster, because no one likes to imagine oneself a victim." (Asma 2). We would rather think of ourselves as positive human beings that do not face such things like becoming a victim. We cannot get enough of monsters, the horror films, the media’s news stories about the recent murderer in town, or simply an irrational fear that fuels a nightmare. Monsters bring us to our weakest place in life, but the envisionment of a good life is brought by monsters. This is true because we end up finding our true self and most common knowledge using the strength we have to overcome these monsters. This ultimate victory is a positive outcome to a negative obsession with horror. Whether it be the “ancient” or “new” monster, we learn that we have to deal with monsters, to be able to fully respect and appreciate the good things that life does bring us.


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Works Cited Asma, T. Stephen. "Monsters and the Moral Imagination" 25 October, 2009, Print. Ingebretsen, Edward. Monster-Making: A Politics of Persuasion. The Journal of American Culture 21. 2 (Summer 1998): 25-34.

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“new monsters” are equivalent to our own fears. Violent Criminals and Catastrophic Events when instability meant hunger, disease, and basica...

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