Frankenstein, Pop Culture, and Being Relevant in 2015
After my last post, “Frankenstein Meets the Avengers,” I thought about it—or re-thought about it. Then my friend Angelika made her astute comment on my blog and got me thinking further. Geez, I was about to hand in the outline for my paper, and now I know I have it all wrong, and I have begun again. Because it occurred to me, exactly why am I seeing parallels to Frankenstein in The Avengers? Can it be because Frankenstein is still relevant in today’s popular culture?
For a few minutes there, I thought I was grasping threads. I thought I had first seen a connection, but at closer look, had seen there was no connection at all. And it’s too late to start again…. But now, there it is.
Frankenstein illuminates the difference between darkness and light, between what is truly ugly and what is truly beautiful, and it explores what it means to be a human being. It is also an examination of free will, and of good and evil.
In past posts, I have discussed what evil might be, and that free will, when exercised against the natural good, results in the free will agent becoming engulfed in a state of evil where the ability to exercise free will afterward is lost. So, like a man who cannot swim jumping, of his own free will, into the deep end of the pool. He is engulfed by the water and cannot make any additional choices. This is what happened to both Victor and his creature. Victor got in so deep that he could not navigate his way out. The creature became so overcome that he set out to do what he knew was wrong in order to get revenge. They both started a cycle of unnatural choices that ended in death and destruction-they both became monsters. We see this portrayed in pop culture all the time.
More than that, Frankenstein’s creature poses questions—the answers to which are still sought out today in 2015.
- The creature searches for his identity as an individual.
- The creature wishes to learn what it takes to be a whole person, and grieves that his ugliness and the circumstances of his ‘birth’ seem to make him less of a person.
- The creature wants to know where his life came from, and what the purpose is of that life. He also contemplates the finality of death. He wonders if he has a soul.
In today’s pop culture, the tragic tale of Frankenstein and his Creature is always a story about pain, loss, and vengeance. It is also a story about one person’s search for his soul, and his desperate need to define himself as a human being. The story also asks ‘what is a monster?’ In our Western society, this search goes on all the time as individuals work out their own lives, define themselves in terms of their own being in the world, and connect with their concept of the divine whether inside or outside of themselves. Finding our humanity is an aspect of the human condition. The meaning of life is searching for the meaning of life. Frankenstein will be in fashion as long as people ponder ‘what makes a person a person?’