What Dracula Shows Us About Evil

What Dracula Shows Us About Evil

A classic horror film and what it shows us today
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Do villains always have to be lame? I wondered as the sun went down outside my dormitory window.

I had just finished an interesting conversation with another writer about evil.

More specifically, we talked about writing dark stories that still emphasized goodness.

We didn’t reach any conclusions, but at one point my friend commented one possible solution was to always make the villains pitiful, characters no one could admire.

I wasn’t sure that I liked that solution.

About three months later, the sun slowly went down outside a different window, at my home in Colorado.

Halloween was coming up, so I had decided to watch some of Universal’s classic monster movies in the weeks leading up to it.

Little did I know that watching “Dracula” would help answer my question.

People have written many things about the 1931 movie “Dracula.”

People have discussed its influence on later Universal horror films, described it as the first talking supernatural thriller ever, and mentioned how it defined Americans’ view of vampires.

What less people mention is how the movie shows evil can be very seductive.

Granted, Bela Lugosi’s Dracula doesn’t seem sexy by today’s standards (although he certainly did at the time).

It takes a while to watch him onscreen without thinking of the Sesame Street Count and other parodies.

But when you see his performance the way 1930’s audiences did, you discover something interesting: Lugosi’s Dracula actually has charm.

When he’s around would-be victims, he acts like an eccentric foreigner and genuinely seems harmless. If you hadn’t seen him kill several people, you’d think he’s the quirky older gentlemen common in many BBC productions.

Even when he shows his true colors, he carries himself confidently like a prince.

As Stephen D. Greydanus and other writers have noted, Dracula meshes creepiness and charisma much like Hannibal Lecter does. Both characters are evil, but apparently unfazed with who their actions have made them into.

Just like Lecter, Dracula forces us to ask a hard question: Can anyone defeat this kind of evil?

Clearly, no one can reason with this guy. He’s gone very far down the path of evil and doesn’t plan on going back. He enjoys what he’s become.

Evil doesn’t physically make him sick or weak. Therefore, he can keep doing evil without stopping.

No one can just say “Keep away, he’s dangerous,” because it won’t make any difference. He has this magnetic quality, a charisma that almost no one can resist.

“Almost” turns out to be the key word, though.

Just when you think “Dracula” is a movie about evil so powerful no one can destroy it, we discover there’s more to the story.

It turns out Dracula has some limits.

He can’t attack people wearing crucifixes or wolfsbane.

He loses his cool when someone shows him a mirror.

He confronts a man who’s discovered his plan and tries to stop him, but the man proves strong enough to defy Dracula.

That scene in particular – where the man starts to give into Dracula’s power and then just manages to stop himself and stand his ground – really illustrates how powerful evil can be, but also that good can be stronger. It’s one of the best illustrations of fighting temptation that I’ve ever seen on film.

Throughout the 1931 movie, Dracula is clearly evil and clearly attractive. He may seem corny by today’s standards, but he certainly isn’t lame.

And yet, paired with this description of charming and seductive evil, are little moments that show evil doesn’t have to win.

In the end – as the heroes drive a spike through Dracula’s chest and the hero leads his lady out of an abandoned abbey, church bells tolling in the background – that’s what the movie Dracula is really about:

Evil is strong, but good can win the day.

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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'Fifty Shades' Isn't A Love Story, It's An Abuse Story

Fifty Shades is not "empowering" or a "beautiful" love story, it is abuse.
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In the midst of all the buzz about #metoo, I find it surprising that many of these people who are standing up for women who have been sexually abused and exploited are also going to see "Fifty Shades Freed."

I have not and will never go see or read any of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. Beyond my own standards of what visual content I think is right or wrong to watch, I won't watch it because I do not think I should take part in something that normalizes and romanticises abuse.

I'm not the only one who thinks this. Check out #fiftyshadesisabuse to see what other people are tweeting. The National Center on Sexual Exploitation considers Fifty Shades to be abusive. Cosmopolitan, Fight the New Drug, The Independent UK, and Huffington Post all have also published articles on the abusive nature of Fifty Shades.

Dawn Hawkins, the Executive Director for the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, made this statement about 50 Shades:

"The popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey among women sends a message to men that this is what women really want. Even more dangerous, it also sends the message to women that they can “fix” violent, controlling men by being obedient and loving.

A warning to the women lining up to see this film: There is nothing empowering about whips and chains or humiliation and torture.

Women as a group will not gain power by collaborating with violent men. Women would be serving only as an agent to further their own sexual degradation, handing themselves on a silver platter to exactly the sort of men who want to use and abuse them, and take away their power."



As you can see, the Fifty Shades trilogy is no love story. It makes abuse seem normal and puts women into a submissive, weak, and degraded place. According to Fight the New Drug, Fifty Shades does these things, as compared to healthy relationships:

The Journal of Women's Health says, "Emotional abuse is present in nearly every interaction " in Fifty Shades and that Anastasia reacted like a typical abused woman. These abusive instances include:

1. Stalking

2. Intimidation

3. Isolation

4. Sexual Violence

Not only does Fifty Shades normalize abuse, it correlates to having negative effects on consumers.

In fact, there was a study done that traced the effects of reading Fifty Shades to young women's health. They found that women who had read Fifty Shades were more likely to have a verbally abusive partner, fast/diet, have more than five sexual partners, and binge drink.

Fifty Shades also teaches some pretty bad lessons, such as:

In light of the #metoo movement where women are standing up against sexually abusive and manipulative relationships, rape, and other forms of sexual harassment, "Fifty Shades Freed" should have sold zero tickets at the box office.

But that is not what is happening. People are flocking to the movie. In fact, as of right now, it is the #1 movie in the world.

It's not OK to view abuse through this movie or other forms, and then post about standing up against it through the use of #metoo. Either you are fine with domestic and sexual abuse, or you are not. If you want sexual abuse to stop, stop giving money to people or organizations like the Fifty Shades franchise who normalize it.

Fifty Shades is not "empowering" or a "beautiful" love story. It is abuse.

Cover Image Credit: YouTube

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Help, I Haven't Left The Couch Since The Olympics Started

Like any addiction, the first step is admitting you have a problem.
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There were many strange things about my upbringing, but one of the strangest is that I did not grow up watching commercial television. I’ve never seen an episode of "Spongebob." I never watched the Disney Channel or Cartoon Network or Nickelodeon. My TV experience came in the form of episodes of PBS Kids shows, lovingly taped by my grandfather. My first encounter with reality TV came in the form of "The Biggest Loser" when I was 14. My family’s cable TV blackout was total — in all respects except one. Every two years, for two weeks, I glue my ass to the couch and my eyes to the screen to watch impossibly athletic humans perform feats of speed and skill in order to earn disks on ribbons made of precious metals. Yes, I’m talking about the Olympics. The Olympics have ruined me.

The Summer Olympics are fine, for the most part, since they’re in the summer and I’m usually free of responsibility at that time of year. During those two weeks, I cease to leave the house, leaving the couch only to go to the bathroom and to obtain more food. If my Summer Olympics watching habits were a sport, it would be Extreme Couch-Potatoing, with points awarded for the longest time elapsed between shifts in position and the largest drops in resting heart rate. I have a system for the Summer Olympics. The system works. The Winter Olympics, however…

With the 2014 Games, I got lucky, as my typically temperate hometown was snowed in for a decent portion of them. Not compelled to leave the house for school, I entombed myself on the couch and watched them almost straight through. This year I’m not so lucky. I’m hovering on the edge of real adulthood. I have school, and worse than school, I have work. There are myriad responsibilities preventing me from achieving my ultimate goal: to become one with the furniture as I cheer on whichever country seems likely to win a particular event. There’s no such thing as country loyalty for me when it comes to watching the Olympics. Patriotism is nonexistent in my attempt to consume as many sports as possible over two weeks to make up for the rest of the time when I consume no sports at all.

We’re not even a week into the Winter Olympics, and the cracks in my respectable public façade are already beginning to show. My eyes twitch unnervingly. I steer clear of social media, living in fear of spoilers for events that haven’t even happened yet. Instead of asking my coworkers and classmates if they had a good weekend or how their classes are going, I demand “Did you see _____ event at the Olympics last night?” and shake my head and cluck my tongue when they say no. I am a purist. I am obsessed. I make other people nervous.

Like all true and good things, however, the Winter Olympics will come to an end at some point — most likely in two weeks, at which time I will lurk around my apartment in varying stages of withdrawal. In time, the symptoms will fade. But the disease will lurk somewhere in the back of my mind, ready to spring out in summer 2020.

I am a marathon Olympics watcher. I am unstoppable.

Cover Image Credit: BLazarus / Pixabay

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