The More Things Change

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!


  1. Interesting. If you think about it all monsters originate in our very human heads so perhaps it’s not surprising that the things that frighten us remain basically the same.

    Even in science fiction, no matter how scary an alien may be the traits that make it so scary are the things that are different to us; negative us in a way. Empathize with an alien and it stops being scary. E.T. anyone?

    But if we create our own monsters then surely we have to ask why?

    • Candy

      Yes, why DO we create monsters? We must need them. Do they simply represent the OTHER and the unknown? Umm… lots to think about.

  2. I think we create monsters because we want to be scared of things we know really can’t hurt us (in the sense of movies and visions of aliens) we figure if those are bad then our real life has some hope. Or on the other side of the coin, we want to test ourselves as to our strength on how well we can keep these “monsters” at bay (our problems). I’m sure there are many metaphors that we can refer to monsters as, just the same as how we create angels. Thank you for your insightful writing. HALLOWEEN is my FAVORITE HOLIDAY:)

    • Candy

      I absolutely agree! We create dragons to have something to slay. I played around with that concept in my second Candy’s Monsters ebook (Bram Stoker’s Summer Sublet) making it easier for the protagonist to cope with the “vampire” next door than to deal with a real life romantic disappointment. Our fantasy monsters put a face onto our fears. By giving them a concrete appearance we get the upper hand.

      Living in Greenwich Village, I’d have move out if I didn’t enjoy Halloween. The parade is enormous and takes over a good chunk of the city. It’s everybody’s BIG DAY here.