You believe in monsters, whether you know it or not -- and I'm not even talking about the two-thirds of Americans who believe in demons and demon possession, or all of us who for a couple of weeks thought the Miami cannibal attack was the beginning of a zombie apocalypse (deny it all you want, but I know how hard it was to find shotgun shells that week). No, I'm talking about the monsters that live in your brain.
They are the reason we go see scary movies, and why we obsess over the most gruesome, face-eating news stories. These monsters are an important part of who we are and, by the way, are quite a bit more terrifying than the thing you only thought lived under your bed when you were a kid.
Note: I have written a novel that addresses this subject in the most ludicrous way possible and it is on shelves now. Also note that if you click your mouse anywhere on this page, there's a good chance you'll accidentally order it.
So to understand our obsession with monsters, we have to start with the fact that ...
5We All Have at Least One Category of People We Think of as Monsters
Let's say you are convicted of a crime and the judge sentences you to be parachuted naked into a populated area of someone else's choosing. It can be anywhere on Earth, but in the name of leniency, the judge allows you to pick one city or region where you won't be dropped. What's your pick? What's the one place you know you'd have no chance of getting out of alive? Detroit? Somalia? Think about it, we'll come back to it in a moment.
So, if you picture Japan in your mind, this is what you see:
Right down to the bunny ears. Don't lie. But if we were in 1943 America, you'd see this:
And that's not a person. That's a monster. That thing doesn't have a mother. It doesn't feel human compassion. It's not even the same species, and we shouldn't feel bad about incinerating a couple hundred thousand of them with bombs, any more than we'd feel bad about fumigating some cockroaches. I know that poster looks like ancient history to you, and that your grandparents look very naive for buying into it. But here's what I grew up with:
Even his hair is a weapon.
That was what a "Russian" was in my mind -- cold, emotionless, violent, soulless, inhuman. As a school kid in 1984, I'd have pushed the nuclear button myself. I had seen Red Dawn, I knew it was us or them. So let's go back to our question: What's the one part of the world you don't want to drop naked into? Maybe the darkest, poorest parts of Appalachia, where the inbred Deliverance rapists live?
"Buck up, friend. This is an important part of our culture!"
Or maybe it's the most brutal parts of sub-Saharan Africa, where (as we saw in District 9) there are gangs of AK-47-wielding cannibal warlords:
Fortunately for you, you won't be dropped into any of those places. No, the judge has decided you'll be shoved into one of the radical Muslim anti-American demonstrations going on right now:
If you plead guilty now, you will be allowed to tape up your genitals.
Now, I'm not calling you a bigot, that's not the point of this. It's not your fault that you're scared of all of those people, and that you think they lack any kind of human empathy or rationality. It's not their fault that, in many cases, they're equally scared of you, or what you represent. For you see ...
4Hate Gives Us a High Similar to Cocaine
There is a scene in the movie Pulp Fiction that explains almost every terrible thing happening in the news today. And it's not the scene where Ving Rhames shoots that guy's dick off. It's the part where the hit man played by John Travolta is talking about how somebody vandalized his car, and says this:
"Boy, I wish I could've caught him doing it. I'd have given anything to catch that asshole doing it. It'd been worth him doing it, just so I could've caught him doing it."
That last sentence is something everyone should understand about mankind. After all, the statement is completely illogical -- revenge is supposed to be about righting a wrong. But he wants to be wronged, specifically so he'll have an excuse to get revenge.
We all do. It's in our genes. And once you come to terms with that, a whole lot of ugly things about the world start making sense, the dick of your illusions blown off by the shotgun of truth.
Think about the worst fight you were ever in. Now think about the last time you did cocaine. Did you ever notice how similar the rush was in both instances (maybe you couldn't tell, if both of those things happened on the same night). It's basic biology -- we mentioned before an experiment where scientists found that angry cursing soothes physical pain. It doesn't mean that someday they'll prep you for surgery by injecting you with motherfuckers; it means that when we get angry, our body releases the painkiller norepinephrine. It makes perfect sense -- the emotion we call "anger" or "hate" is a part of our evolutionary fighting instinct, so to prepare us for the battle, it pumps us full of anesthetic to block the pain and releases the pleasure chemical dopamine to ease our fears about fighting the tiger/tribesman/drunken Red Sox fan who is threatening us. Incidentally, these are the same two chemicals that are released when you smoke crack.
Quite simply, hate gets you high.
"I'm about to trip my goddamn beard off."
The science behind it is fairly new, but it explains so much, from wars to the confrontational dick at the office, from racism to the crazy girlfriend/boyfriend who is constantly trying to pick fights or create "drama." You are a biological machine built to hate, and you got that way because your ancestors killed off everyone who wasn't. Rage made you strong, and that strength let you win. This is why so much of society is built around controlling and suppressing it.
So what does this have to do with monsters? Here's a hint: