Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Form of Jennifer's Body

In this blog, I have talked about monsters as deformed destructive beings (DDBs), but I have not gone into detail about what I mean by that term. I will do so now, using a particular DDB as an example: Jennifer in Jennifer's Body (2009). As played by Megan Fox, Jennifer has a great body, even after she transforms into a demon, and it is hard to tell at a glance what is deformed about her.

St. Thomas Aquinas would have viewed the issue differently. According to him, Jennifer's body, impressive as it is, consists of two components: matter made actual by form. Form includes Jennifer's soul, which is invisible, but also the pattern of organization of her matter, such as two arms, two legs, two (notable) breasts, and so on. To look at her, Jennifer is well-formed, an excellent example of her species. The species essence is related to form: Jennifer's body is what happens when the essence of the human species (female variety) makes this matter actual.

However, Jennifer is actually deformed. She has been transformed into a demon, and a demon, however attractive on the surface, is a fallen angel, an angel whose good spiritual nature has been corrupted by rebellion against God. If you could look into the essence of a fallen angel, or demon, it would look something like this:

This is how Jennifer looks when she is not wearing her pretty face. Her mouth widens inhumanly, her teeth sharpen into shark's teeth, and her face is marked by decay. These are outward signs of her inward deformity. She is no longer attractive but repulsive.

Yet this is not necessarily a bad thing. DDB theory predicts that once a form has been sufficiently deformed, it may become a new form--in this case, the form of a demon girl. Because that form is new, it interests us, it makes us want to look and pay attention, because we have an inherent interest in being. New beings, however repulsive because of their deformity, are simultaneously attractive because that same deformity qualifies them as new types of being.

Our interest in the deformed being is intensified if the new form is inherently inimical to our human form. Such a being, by virtue of its deformity, is destructive toward us--a DDB. Jennifer is an example: the image of her with shark teeth is the image of her attacking one of her human victims. She lives by killing and eating people (preferably boys, though she goes both ways). We want to see these deformed and destructive beings precisely because they are new types of beings that would be inaccessible to us in real life due to their destructiveness. DDBs satisfy our hunger for being to a degree that would not even be possible outside of horror movies.

And that is why people like horror movies. They can see Megan Fox any time. But Megan Fox as a demon who eats people--that is a new type of being, for which one must turn to Jennifer's Body.

George Ochoa
Deformed and Destructive Beings: The Purpose of Horror Films

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