Date

5-6-2020

Description

There are few places better to look in order to understand cultural norms and anxieties than horror, and horror franchises offer a unique narrative on these anxieties in that they provide the ability to extend themselves outside of their initial period of conception, revising their storylines to respond to critiques and better meet the needs of new generations of audiences. However, there has been little work done on what these franchises that extend for decades tell us about how cultural norms change and how franchises adapt their narratives to better address shifting cultural anxieties. To better understand this phenomenon, my thesis investigates three popular horror franchises, Halloween, IT, and Stranger Things, guided by the following question: "how do these franchises explore and trouble gender norms, both then and now?" Halloween, conceived in 1978 and given a direct sequel in 2018, shows how gender representations and feminist ideas change over time and gives a new audience the chance to step into feminism as an intergenerational struggle against the undying patriarchy personified by Michael Myers. In a similar way, IT troubles eighties conceptions of masculinity by rewriting masculinity for a new generation. The most recent franchise Stranger Things, which operates as a mashup of "eightiesness" uses the decade and its various tropes to offer up new queer possibilities. I argue that these three horror franchises provide a unique look into how the eighties are used today as a cultural touchstone through which to explore changing gender anxieties.

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May 6th, 12:00 AM

Exploring the intersections of Gender in 1980s Horror Franchises

There are few places better to look in order to understand cultural norms and anxieties than horror, and horror franchises offer a unique narrative on these anxieties in that they provide the ability to extend themselves outside of their initial period of conception, revising their storylines to respond to critiques and better meet the needs of new generations of audiences. However, there has been little work done on what these franchises that extend for decades tell us about how cultural norms change and how franchises adapt their narratives to better address shifting cultural anxieties. To better understand this phenomenon, my thesis investigates three popular horror franchises, Halloween, IT, and Stranger Things, guided by the following question: "how do these franchises explore and trouble gender norms, both then and now?" Halloween, conceived in 1978 and given a direct sequel in 2018, shows how gender representations and feminist ideas change over time and gives a new audience the chance to step into feminism as an intergenerational struggle against the undying patriarchy personified by Michael Myers. In a similar way, IT troubles eighties conceptions of masculinity by rewriting masculinity for a new generation. The most recent franchise Stranger Things, which operates as a mashup of "eightiesness" uses the decade and its various tropes to offer up new queer possibilities. I argue that these three horror franchises provide a unique look into how the eighties are used today as a cultural touchstone through which to explore changing gender anxieties.