The more things change, the more they stay the same. That incredibly old adage came back to haunt me when I saw the new Broadway production of Ibsen’s classic “Enemy of the People.” The play is about politics, money, greed, pollution, jobs, taxes, community and human nature. If the tannery spilling toxic chemicals into the water at the town’s new spa baths is replaced by any one of a number of contemporary political/economic/scientific questions where the balance of “truths” shifts as fast as 30-second TV spots, the play could take place right now and not in 19th century Norway.
The things that scare us (our MONSTERS) and the things that haunt us (our GHOSTS) don’t change all that much. The new incarnations wear new disguises, with gorier special effects in films, more explicit descriptions in books and significantly bloodier drawings in graphic novels, but at heart they remain familiar from one generation to the next.
For me classic MONSTERS — like the classic Ibsen play — resonate because they tap into our folklore. Things that go BUMP in the night, just outside our field of vision, still terrify us. Now stalkers enter our homes through the Internet, but the impact is much the same. They steal into places we consider private and undermine our sense of safe havens.
It’s almost October and every time I turn on the TV I see commercials for new horror movies. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Halloween approaches and it’s time to jump in our seats. Boo!