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April 25 2012

(SPOILER) What The Cabin in the Woods says about the current state of pop culture. An essay from Tor.com examines what The Cabin in the Woods says about pop culture and entertainment. "The film manages to illuminate the deeply weird cultural moment we find ourselves in, and how it all comes back to John Hughes."

Read this piece the other day and I dig it a lot. I also see the author, in the comments, addresses the lack of Goddard in her piece. She apparently lost a footnote which had explained who he was and that she simply was not as familiar with him as she is with Whedon.
I have to say, I do *not* equate Joss Whedon with John Hughes. With no disrespect intended to the many people who saw themselves and their friends reflected in the Hughes films, I never did, whereas I feel attuned to and empathetic with many of the characters in Whedon's projects.
I love the Breakfast Club comparison. The one thing I'm currently trying to figure out is how these two levels of the film -- the horror genre critique and the social critique -- intertwine and intersect. Because on one hand, the kids are just stand-ins for the general characters in a horror film, with the faculty downstairs being the general representative of the horror movie making process, and the Gods down below representing the dires to make horror movies in the first place. And on the other, the structure is that the kids in the cabin on the surface of the story are controlled by the faculty below -- their elders, the social world they live in -- in order to protect the world from the forces of chaos and whatnot which lie below (our darker impulses, perhaps). The relationship between the two -- the first which is nothing but horror movies, really, and the second which is only superficially about horror movies -- is hard to figure out. Two possibilities:

1. As suggested by the author of the piece, the recent trend in horror movies of the Saw/Hostel variety reflects the current time in society, and so deconstructing what those horror movies have to say is a gateway to social criticism;

2. The argument is, perhaps, that horror movies THEMSELVES contribute to the cultural situation wherein college-aged kids feel the need to conform to certain stereotypes in a way against their interests.

Both of these seem partly right, but both are a little unsatisfying. I do believe the social critique is there and is more interesting to me personally than the horror movie takeoff (though that interests me too), the latter of which is the main thing that Goddard and Whedon talk about in interviews. I do tend to hope that the Breakfast Club story -- the radical pro-youth agenda, haha -- is more than a by-product of talking about horror movies.

As an aside, I do think that the movie provides a good reason for the faculty/society to constrain kids' behaviours. And that's the Old Gods, which are the things that monsters *come* from. To me, they represent whatever part of our subconscious that needs horror films badly, but also the part that might be tempted to, um, kill and maim and that type of thing. Obviously society exists in order to keep our darker natures in check. I think the rock-and-hard-place aspect of the story is that society can be too constraining, but the alternative is not simple freedom but destruction; we do not really want to go to the pre-civilized Wild West or whatever, or if we do, there will be badness. Serenity spoilers: the conflict here reminds me a lot of the oppressiveness of the Alliance coupled with the destructiveness of the Reavers on the fringes of space. The trick is to find as much freedom as you can without becoming anti-social in a way that hurts others (and yourself). In Cabin, this is basically not possible, but I don't think this is so much Joss & Drew saying they believe this, as exposing the fear that it mightn't be possible.

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