Think about this. Since the beginning of recorded time, man has had a whole love/hate thing going on with ol’ Beezlebub – and you know what? It’s still raging, and the lines between good evil and bad evil are getting badly smeared.
Good evil and bad evil? Let me explain.
Consider these gentlemen:
James Arness and Christopher Lee. What do they have in common?
Answer: They both played a monster in a movie. James Arness, sheriff Matt Dillon in the hit TV series “Gunsmoke”, played the monster in the equally popular movie “The Thing” in 1951. Christopher Lee – That’s Sir Christopher Frank Carandini Lee – has been in 276 films, including major roles in both the Star Wars saga and Lord of the Rings trilogy – and also played the Lord of Darkness (that’s Dracula to you youngsters) a total of five times.
Okay, now another question. What do actors Tony Curtis and Brian Dennehy share? Answer: They both played monsters too. Except – they were cast in roles depicting real monsters.
The legendary Tony Curtis played in over 120 films over 50 years, and has shared the big screen with such stars as Kirk Douglas, Burt Lancaster, and Gina Lollobrigida.
And he also played Albert DeSalvo – also known as “The Boston Strangler” – who was tried and convicted for slaughtering 13 women over the period of a year.
Then we have Mr. Brian Dennehy. Monsieur Dennehy is the proud owner of two Tony awards for his work on the stage, has had roles in countless TV shows and almost 30 movies, his most remembered part likely being Sheriff Will Teasle in “Rambo: First Blood”.
And while he was at it, he took a few months to play a guy by the name of John Wayne Gacy (aka “The Killer Klown”), who was put to death by lethal injection in 1994 for the sexual assault of at least 33 boys and young men from 1972 to 1978.
So. What’s the difference between these two groups? The answer is, of course, nothing. At least not to the media moguls. Allow me to give you a few more statistics, from a couple other sources.
Movies first. I’ll pick one of the most popular horror movies ever – “The Omen”. That’s right, the blockbuster that described the coming of the anti-Christ. It came out in 1976, grossed over $60,000,000 and was the fifth highest-grossing film of the year. Oh, and it was re-made in 2006 (that brilliant group decided to launch it June 6th – that’s 06/06/06. Better yet, kickoff time was 6:06:06 a.m.), and was subsequently followed by four more “Omen” movies. Now, if cranking out a full-length feature (better yet, five of ‘em) about the coming of someone who’s going to cast darkness over the entire earth ain’t just lovin’ evil, I really don’t know what is.
In fact, it’s a little disturbing how we fail to delineate between the baddies who are a direct result of a writer eating pizza too late in the evening, and nutcases who go off their rocker and start running around and killing people indiscriminately with rifles from overpasses. (“D.C. Sniper: 23 Days of Fear” – launched in 2003). That’s becoming more and more prevelant, if you ask me. Too prevelant.
An even more recent example – the trial of Casey Anthony from May to July, 2011. For those who don’t recall, Ms. Anthony was brought to trial for murdering her three-year-old daughter Caylee. For a number of reasons, Casey was found not guilty, to the outrage of many. In fact, it’s widely believed that during the time of the trial, Ms. Anthony was the most hated person in the country. And in 2013, only 18 months later? Rob Lowe played head prosecutor Jeff Ashton in the Lifetime movie “Prosecuting Casy Anthony”. Funny, huh?
Now, the case can be made that it’s all just entertainment. That even if the story is about a real life horror, it’s interesting to see how some of the most vicious killers in history came to perform their agregious deeds. Okay, fair enough. I have to admit that peeking behind the curtain to see what makes a man (or woman) morph into a murderer can be a fascinating prospect. But, we’ve blurred the line and allowed the dark world of genuine villians to meld in with ours.
Maybe this will show you what I mean. The video game has become one of the most prevalent pasttimes for young folks from five to 25. And you know, they’re fun. My son is 16, and when he was younger, he and I spent many an hour battling nazis (no, I’m not going to capitalize the term – sue me), and blowing zombies to Kingdom Come. But, I find it disturbing when a game that allows you to execute cops, women, and old people is one of the highest selling video games ever.
(Grand Theft Auto, all five versions of it). In fact, Grand Theft Auto IV sold 3.6 million copies the first day, and sole 6 million over the first week, garnering $500 million in sales. And I’ve played it. You think a game about World War II is violent? Picture a city street crowded with people and a guy with a shotgun, machete, and basball bat running around and shooting, beating, and slicing anybody he wants. Complete with blood, screaming, the sound of the blows and crunching of bones. That, my friends, is brutal.
Can I hear you say Columbine? Virginia Tech? Sandy Hook?
Now, I’m all into the supernatural monster stuff. Let’s face it – if werewolves didn’t exist (at least, in legend), I’d have had to write about the Grand Canyon in my debut novel. Or maybe the mating habits of the Great Horned Owl. Compelling, huh? Nope, I’m lovin’ being smack dab in the middle of a writing world that embraces any book that will scare the snot out of you.
But all that other garbage? I say we take all the real-life stuff I’ve mentioned here, add in any I didn’t, set them on fire, and sip a crisp Chardonney while we watch it burn. Because, see, all the folks who step across the line and kill don’t deserve to be glorified. They need to be put away (either for life or without one, either way suits me ) and forgotten. Let the scientists and psychologists figure out what went wrong. We’ve already smeared the line between the imagined evil and the real McCoy for far too long.
Trust me, my friends, werewolves are a lot less dangerous.