[photo credit: David Martínez]
While there are real monsters in the world as recounted in myth, history and science, which have been responsible for generations of upheaval, havoc and trauma, the “monsters” celebrated and enjoyed at events like Mad Monster Phoenix are more about entertainment than mayhem. From the pervasiveness of zombies to the nostalgia value of Elvira, The Munsters and Vincent Price, monsters have long had an appreciative audience in the American mainstream. We love to be scared in the way that roller coasters and haunted houses can get our adrenaline pumping in a nonthreatening way. As for why they are so appealing one could write a doctoral thesis on the subject, which won’t happen here. Instead, I’ll only say that I enjoy them as characters in film, television, art and literature because they appeal to my aesthetic sensibilities and my need to experience something that transports me out of the ordinary and quotidian. Monsters, to put it simply, are wondrous expressions of the psyche and imagination. They invoke a space around them in which the “abnormal” is necessary to understand the world that created them in the first place.