You Reap What You Sew
In today’s world there are many monsters that can be evaluated and looked at critically. The symbolic character, Death/The Reaper is a monster than co-exists with Jeffrey Cohen’s Monster Theory. The book Monster Theory is a tool writers can use to analyze just about anything and see how it resembles traits of a monster. Death is an example of a monster that can be analyzed via the monster thesis. The first monster thesis that Death abides by is Theses Two: The Monster Always Escapes, as well as Theses One: The Monster’s Body is A Cultural Body. These two Theses will be applied to The Book Of Revelation in the Bible, the movie “Grim Reaper”, and an Australian HIV prevention commercial.
After analyzing different forms of Death in the past as well as in modern times, one can conclude that the foundation for Death/The Reaper originates from my first source, The Book of Revelation in the Bible. The Book Of Revelation contains many depictions of monsters including the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse that are shown as the ones who carry out to destruction of humanity at God’s command. The Four Horsemen are War, Famine, Pestilence, And more importantly Death. Death is described as a viscous remorseless monster that reaps the souls of the people that dwell earth at the time preceding the Second coming of God. Death is quoted speaking to his victims with a very malicious raspy voice saying things like “take a look at the power I behold” referring to his mysterious book that contained the names of his victims and those who opposed God’s command. He is detailed as a very large semi-transparent being that grips a dark scythe taller than the average man capable of beheading someone as if they were crops to be collected. Although Death was sent into existence by God along with the other three horsemen, He instills fear into anyone who gazed upon him because when his powerful aura pulled up you knew it was time for your soul to be attained. In the Bible Death had a different fate than the other horsemen when God cast him into the Lake of Fire along with all that were not recording in the Book of Life. Death rode upon a Pale Horse traveling alongside the destruction that the other Horsemen carried out. The Pale horse Death rode on was encased in a realm of ash and misery responsible for destroying all remaining empires on Earth. The Bible does a very good job describing Death even though his introduction is more or less glossed over. Many modern depictions of Death are basically spin-offs of the original Death in the Bible given the fact that they contain many if not all of his basic images. With that being said, the Bible’s embodiment of Death definitely falls into Thesis One: The Monster’s Body Is A Cultural Body, because in the bible death was created by God to destroy all cultures on earth. There was a realm of fear that surrounded Death that still exists because Death/The Reaper symbolizes the end of your life, which then leads to the connection this monster has to Thesis Two. Death always escapes no matter how many times you manage to avoid it, in the end Death will always find you then escape to torment another victim. I give the Bible’s image of the Reaper a solid 9/10 on the grading scale. My reason for not giving it a perfect score is because the overall story of Death cannot be understood if the audience had any trouble concluding the Book Of Revelation.
The Grim Reaper is known to represent all things evil. This includes HIV and AIDS. In Australia Death captured the fear and uncertainty of a time when people didn’t know what would happen with the AIDS virus. Nobody knew how big the epidemic would become in Australia and there was no sign of any cure or available treatments at the time. This led to the creation of a fear instilling commercial by the National Advisory Committee on AIDS that aired in 1987. It starts with one image of Death knocking over families arranged as bowling pins with large bowling balls. Then in the next seen the camera pans out to include a variety of people falling victim to aids being knocked over by an army of Reapers. Voice audio can be heard speaking facts and warnings throughout the commercial which combined with the visuals to create an eerie vibe. This commercial aired for less than 3 weeks and displayed Thesis One and Two. This Grim Reaper campaign drastically affected the culture in Australia both positively and negatively. In some communities, several gay men started to become linked to the Grim Reaper and were seen as a threat to the communities they lived in, rather than being victims of the disease. Aside from this negative outcome, the campaign was effective at drawing attention to HIV/AIDS. Politically this was important. On the grading scale I give the commercial an 8.5 because the dialogue could have contained more chilling and threatening lines. In conclusion, this version of Death abides by the original Bible version as the Reaper can be seen in skeletal form weilding a tall scythe.
In addition to instilling fear, Death also appears in movies as a form of entertainment. The last source to be analyzed is the 2007 movie The Grim Reaper. In terms of Monster Theory, this depiction of The Reaper takes on a much more aggressive and vicious monster form as he can be seen slaughtering people and speaking very melodically to his victims. This version of Death embodies the second thesis in monster theory because the Reaper always escapes only to return again and again and take more souls to the afterlife. This can be seen in the trailer of the movie when the dialogue says, “if you try to cheat Death, Death cheats back!” followed by the screams of women and men as they try to run from the Reaper. Thesis Two: The Monster Always Escapes also correlates to this version of Death saying, “Monsters are our children. They can be pushed to the farthest margins of geography and discourse, hidden away at the edges of the world and in the forbidden recesses of the mind, but they always return.” This excerpt from the text explains the life of the Reaper because he always returns to wreak havoc on his victims. Again, the imagery of this monster is the same as the original Bible version of Death in the Book Of Revelation. The movie obviously takes a more modern approach than the Old Testament while explaining the Reaper. In the beginning of the movie a female stripper named Rachel is struck by a taxi cab while trying to cross the street. She ends up surviving the incident and can be seen in the emergency room with nurses trying to sustain her life. All goes well for a while until she begins to hallucinate and starts to cry for help saying, “Death is chasing me Death is chasing me!” The next day she wakes up in a mental hospital conversing with the Reaper himself. In the end the Reaper kills all the remaining patients in the hospital. Thesis One: The Monster’s Body Is A Cultural Body falls into this movie as well because the movie is set in modern times, which means that the reactions Death generates throughout the movie are different and more “hip”. I give this version a 8/10 on the Monster Scale. The reason for this score is because I deducted some points due to the movie’s lack of ability to fuse Death with a more meaningful, less cheesy caricature.
Each version of Death has similar visual representations because they all resemble the original Death/Reaper depicted in the Bible. With that being said, hopefully my paper was effective on comparing the three sources my monster Death was included in. I believe I successfully represented the correlations these sources had with Jeffrey Cohen’s Monster Theory, specifically Theses one and two. As the three sources are looked at simultaneously you can see a pattern between them, that pattern is how each source reacts to Death differently based on what time period that depiction took place in. Some differences do take place in these three personifications of Death in terms of the way He dresses his victims as well as what overall goal that particular version is trying to achieve. The overall grading scale for the sources provided is based on how well Death is thought to be portrayed. Death in general is the lack of life in a person which is why Death is given a big responsibility, the responsibility to ensure that the victims do not escape him and he succeeds in his goal of reaping souls. In my personal opinion, I think the best portrayal of Death was the Bible’s personification of the monster because he was unstoppable and had a very gripping role in the outcome of the human race at the time the Book Of Revelation was written. In addition to being able to identify monsters, I invite the readers of my paper to link the monster theories to forms of media/people they encounter in the future as will I.
Monster Theory, Jeffrey Cohen, 1996, Biography
This Book is the main source of substance used to create a grading scale and rate the sources using the Monster Thesis inside of this book. I used this as one of my sources because it allowed me to include the theories inside of my paper.
“Dealing With Death”, Robert C, Grosz, July 2001, Article NSUworks
I chose to include this scholarly source into my annotated bibliography because it describes the hysteria around the word Death and the idea of Death as a monster using factual data provided by a number of certified scholars on the issue of social studies and history in the arts. I believe it is scholarly because the article itself includes a lot of credible sources leading up to the proclamations they make.
Death And Dying, Psychology topics, Article on APA, American Psychological Association
This article is an informative and educational study done by the American Psychological Association in an effort to relieve a person grieving a loved ones death. I included this article in my paper because it helped me generalize how people may see Death itself as a monster and how it may affect their lives.
The Grim Reaper, KH Moore, OhioLINK, Article published 2006
I used this source to describe the history of the Grim Reaper or Death throughout both U.S. History and world history as well as how the images of Death varied over time and began to take slightly different forms. This source is a scholarly source because it is linked to Ohio State University and the department of world history in that university.
Australia’s Demographic HIV, JJ Johnson, NCBI, Article published June 2012
This article was the main scholarly article I read to gain knowledge on the HIV epidemic in Australia and how the Grim Reaper commercial I chose affected the communities in Australia that contained aids. This article is a scholarly source because the National Institute of Health published this study and provided a lot of viable data that has been proven by research and eyewitness deliveries. The Grim Reaper commercial played a role in decreasing the total number of people that died from aids in the late 1900’s in Australia and benefited the culture.
I also used this Youtube Video on AIDS that portrayed Death as the Grim Reaper bowling over victims of HIV and AIDS to develop my Secondary source