Stephen Marche at Esquire titled this piece, The State of the Culture Is… Sacred?
Just look at our current slate of horror films. Scary movies serve the same function in the 20th and 21st centuries that fairy tales served the children of an earlier age — to make our broadest and vaguest terrors into something concrete and therefore confrontable. In the 1950s, radioactive mutation and the threat of nuclear annihilation became Godzilla, The Blob, the gigantic ants of “Them!” The McCarthy hearings gave rise to Invasion of the Body Snatchers, the mindless consumerism of the 1970s to the zombies outside the mall in Dawn of the Dead. The 1990s saw Natasha Henstridge in Species become the cipher for brand-new anxieties about genetic manipulation. Horror movies purge us of the fears we inhale every day off the front pages of the newspapers. That’s their job. So it should come as no surprise that this year’s frights stem from knowing wit
hout understanding. And boxes. Stay with me here: In the new Nicolas Cage thriller, Knowing, the hero uncovers a time capsule, a container, in which he finds predictions of all the world’s catastrophes. He knows but he doesn’t understand: That’s his and our terror. In The Box, out later this year from Donnie Darko director Richard Kelly, a married couple receives a plain wooden machine that provides them with $1 million every time they push a button, with the stipulation that every time they use it, someone they don’t know, somewhere in the world, will die.
I’d add to Marche’s films, the internet marketing sensation, Cloverfield. What ever will the monster look like? And M. Knight’s The Happening – What the hell is going on?
These plain boxes, which in simpler times could’ve simply been sources of mystery or intrigue, become instruments of terror, but it’s better our heroes confront fantasy boxes than the boxes that real people actually have to deal with, on the New York subway, on the beaches in Tel Aviv, hidden under a seat in a train station in Mumbai, which are much more terrifying…
The post description sums it up nicely, “Wall Street isn’t the only place with a fearful lack of understanding these days.” And Marche’s closing words are pleasantly Hayekian.
Maybe that’s the solution to all this. Maybe we need to lose our fear of the unknown and show a little humility about the limitations of knowledge. Because if nothing else, that might point us to the fragility and glory of the world we live in. After each bombing, we worry about the vulnerability of our cities, but we’re also shown just how magnificent they are.