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Sunday, April 21, 2024

Culture Corner

The Arts Desk’s weekly picks for television, movies, books and music

By SIERRA JIMENEZ — arts@theaggie.org

Book: “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley (1818)

When you think of Frankenstein, you probably picture the green monster with jagged black hair and bolts through the sides of his square head. Hollywood did a fantastic job of hammering that image of this Halloween monster into our cultural consciousness. However, in Mary Shelley’s original novel “Frankenstein,” originally published in 1818, the monster is far different from the glorified modern portrayal of Frankenstein. In fact, Frankenstein is not even the man-made monster in the novel at all, he is the scientist who created the eight-foot-tall beast. The underlying message of the book is to reveal the montrocities of humanity trying to defy the laws of nature, not so much the (somewhat) gentle giant in the novel itself. It is a harsh truth to read about, but a good background for the green monster plastered on all the Halloween merchandise in all the stores in October, and a classic at that. 

Song: “A Nightmare On My Street” by DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince (1988)

The Fresh Prince (Will Smith) and DJ Jazzy Jeff (Jeffery Allen) throw listeners back into the 90s with their hip-hop parody of “Nightmare on Elm Street” (1984). This song, like many of the iconic duo’s other pieces, is a lyrical story which transports listeners into their world created by rhymes. “A Nightmare On My Street,” released in 1988, is a story similar to the famed Halloween film, but with the Fresh Prince as the victim of Freddy Krueger’s (who is referred to as “Fred” in the song) torturous nightmares. The beat used in the backdrop of the song is an iteration of the main title song for “Nightmare on Elm Street” by Charles Bernstein, adopted to satisfy the 90s quirk. DJ Jazzy Jeff’s incorporation of bass and an alternative beat supporting the Fresh Prince’s narrative rap sends a spooky chill up the spine for the Halloween goers, but also keeps it fun and lighthearted for listeners of all ages. The imagery of the song does not require any visual aid, but there is a totally ‘90s music video with a young Will Smith that will leave you waiting for a remake of the original movie. 

Movie: “Coraline” (2009)

To this day, everytime I watch this utterly disturbing film of an alternate reality where buttons are sewed into the face for eyes, I find myself curled up in bed wishing I was not alone in the darkness of my room. Henry Selick’s stop-motion animated picture is a nightmare-ish story about Coraline Jones, played by Dakota Fanning, whose mundane life and detached parents are less than ideal in comparison to the romanticized parallel world found within the portal behind a small door in her new house. In this other world, Coraline is greeted by her doppleganger parents, called the “other mother” and “other father,” who entice her with seemingly unconditional love and materialistic fulfillment. The doll is the instrument in which the “other mother” watches Coraline’s dissatisfaction with her life to manipulate her into staying in this idealized world. The underlying message that the grass is not always greener on the other side is portrayed in a variety of creative ways such as contrasting color imagery and parallelism which accentuate the spine-chilling truths of the storyline. The relatability of this nightmare may be the creepiest part of this movie. 

TV Show: “The Vampire Diaries”

As the leaves retire from the comfort of their mother tree and the chilled autumn wind echoes through the cracks of the windows, it is only appropriate to want to find solace in the safety of your room and binge watch a spooky show. If corny early 2000s teen supernatural drama suits your itching desires for an escape from the cold reality outside your door, this is the series for you. Vampires, werewolves, drama, sex and unequivoble humor from the poor acting, this series is full of Halloween-ish nonsense that will leave you wanting more despite the shame you may feel from having this title in your search history on Netflix. 

Written by: Sierra Jimenez — arts@theaggie.org

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