Like Shelley’s Frankenstein, God and religion are hardly mentioned in the Buffy text. Religion is mentioned in two contexts – one, where Adam encourages a nest of vampires to conquer their fear of the holy by entering a church and massacring the worshippers in “Who Are You? “. Similarly, the idea of the Christian God is discarded, as one of the Initiative’s soldiers (turned a right-hand man of Adam) claims “God has nothing to do with this. ” (Primeval).
This is representative of the secular nature of 21st century Western society – unlike the Enlightenment in which Frankenstein was initially composed, the traditional Christian values seem to be disappearing under exploration of alternate spirituality and lifestyle choices. Buffy’s ultimate defeat of Adam comes from witchcraft and Eastern spirituality, further implying this abandonment of the traditional. The idea of nature versus nurture is explored in relation to the actions of individuals. Adam seems somewhat of a contradiction, bound by his programming, yet able to philosophise and make his own decisions.
He is able to sympathise with others, and understand the bestial nature of those he ultimately seeks support from. “You feel smothered; trapped like an animal . . . Pure in its ferocity, unable to actualise the urges within . . . I will make you whole again”. (The Yoko Factor). Unlike Frankenstein’s creature, he does not commit evil acts out of circumstance and isolation. Instead, he is pleased by what has been programmed into him, and finds pleasure in the grotesque, yet seeks further knowledge. Like Frankenstein’s creature, he wants to know not only what he is, but also who he is and why he exists.
He asks a small boy in the woods, “What am I? ” and almost seems resigned to the fact when told, “You’re a monster. ” Despite this resignation – “I thought so” – he is also curious. “I saw the inside of that boy and it was beautiful. But it didn’t tell me about the world. It just made me feel. So now . . . I want to learn about me. Why I feel, what I am”. (Goodbye Iowa). Similarly, Frankenstein’s creature asks “Why did I live? ” (p132). This represents the ultimate ambiguity of the human condition. Although the question is put forth by unnatural beings, every human ponders the meaning of their existence at some point.
Both texts use allegory to explore the chief philosophical questions which mankind constantly address, again implying that as much as the world changes, some aspects remain very similar. This reflects the complexity of the human condition and the fact that whilst we seek answers, they often are not explicated through experience The idea of Frankenstein and his creature has been contextualised to fit into the Buffy universe, as well as a more modern context. The fear in relation to the uncontrolled proliferation of embryonic technologies is manifested in the scientific focus across these episodes.
Christian concepts relating to birth are replaced by secular interests of science. The manifestation of the monster Adam is perhaps the visualisation of the monster that 21st century science has the potential to make. The military nature of Adam’s creation is particularly significant as it signals the growing fear of invasion, particularly in the U. S. A. Overall, it is successful at contextualising the fears of man’s involvement in science as it becomes more invasive and pervasive. Analysis of Composers and Contexts
Throughout human history there have been many social, historical, and political ideologies and movements that have affected concurrent mentalities. The analysis of these ideals and movements not only leads to a greater knowledge of such contexts, but also a deeper understanding of and a more balanced perspective on its nature. By examining the composers of the texts studied above, we may delve deeper into the reasons why the ideas portrayed in these texts exist. James Whale – Frankenstein 1931 – was a Hollywood film director renowned for his works in the horror genre.
Interestingly, his changes to the Frankenstein story are remarkable and are skewed to fit a conservative Hollywood model – the folly of the man playing god in his pursuit for knowledge. Such conservative values and reactionary views have dominated the Hollywood cinemas since its very beginnings. Such ideals are also evident in Whale’s interpretation of the reason for the monster’s misdemeanours. In a scene preceding the theft of a brain, Dr. Waldmann explains how a person’s actions are a resultant of their normal or abnormal brain.
In recent times we have tended to believe a person’s actions as more a reflection of their social circumstance and experiences, therefore blaming society on their misfortunes not the person themselves. This blatant misrepresentation of Shelley’s most intrinsic theme demonstrates the attitudes of the era of the Great Depression – a time of hunger and fear. This in turn feeds the patriarchal approach to women, at a time when women were being blamed for taking the jobs of men and all the while being paid less.
This continuous fear campaign was endorsed by the media and is evident in Whale’s 1931 production of Frankenstein. The 70’s, however marked a time of increased social change. Major trends included a growing disillusionment of government, advances in civil rights, increased influence of the women’s movement, a heightened concern for the environment, and increased space exploration. It was during this time of radical ideas and movements that Mel Brooks directed Young Frankenstein in his challenging spin on the entire gothic horror genre.
The film contains more of a focus on life’s overall sexuality, indicative of the values of its time, in which sex was not considered such a taboo subject as it had previously been. As Brooks capers through classic horror, he plays on its clichi?? s satirising the genre. We have seen this done more often in modern times with spoofs and send ups of clichi?? s in all genres of film and literature. It captures the cynicism of our age to the classics – a form of rebellion against what is constantly thrown at us by television and newspapers.
People have become aware of follies concerning social expectancies and standards, and thus it is becoming less and less popular to conform to what is being expected of us. Nearing the end of the 20th century, Buffy the Vampire Slayer created a cult following amongst teenagers for with its themes on dating, competitive, achievement-oriented and corrupt American high-school culture, adolescent transformation and alienation, the fragmentation of the family, instability of gender-role, and the generation gap.
But it also aroused much interest in adults and academics in its ‘post-modern’ reflexivity and ‘post-feminism’ agendas. The creator of Buffy, Joss Whedon, turned the traditional horror clichi?? of the diminutive blonde girl in need of rescuing, on its head with the casting of an ostensibly “vulnerable” blonde as his heroine. Buffy presented a fresh paradigm which has been embraced by many as an emblem of female power. Although the show is ultimately part of the gothic/horror movement, it has been appropriated into its modern context with the dynamics of adolescent themes and challenged conservatism.
Sexuality is perhaps one of the themes most intimately explored amongst the agile blend of genres such from horror through to farce. It is this depth in thematic structure, and experimentation that has led to its success amongst the world’s teenagers, and academics. It is in these more recent times, the original Frankenstein story has become more appropriate, with the exponential rise in technology; especially in biotechnology with advancements in human cloning, and stem cell research, the reality of a Frankenstein-esque story emerging has become increasingly credible.
Texts with rich and provocative themes such as Frankenstein have lasted to be appropriated into ever-changing contexts. The moral lessons they provide have been updated, however, their ethical significance is fundamentally the same. Such stories provide a moral base that challenges the groundwork on which societies are built and it is the analysis of these changing environments that are invaluable to the understanding of any text.