I was watching an add for the newest Grinch movie and something caught my ear. There was a line about the Grinch being a lonely orphan. That was something new. How does that bit of information affect the perception of the Grinch as the evil being responsible for stealing The Whos of Whoville’s Christmas? Should it matter? For the millions of kids who grew up watching his escapades on TV it was a single most evil act only redeemed when his heart grew and he returned everything. Now we know that his evil had a root a reason for existing apart from his tiny heart, but I’m still left wondering is that any better.
A similar thing struck me about the remake of Halloween. The director added backstory regarded the abuses suffered by Michael Myers. Would that excuse the evil deeds he performed? Doers that give us enough of a reason to accept why he did these things? Maybe that is what we really need, like the Grinch we have a reason for their evil.
There is no shortage of evil acts in our world and every night they are beamed into our consciousness. Is our last attempt at solace, our last grasp of security, knowing that there exists a reason for this evil. But, what if that isn’t the case? What if evil just is? The monster exists not because there is evil in the world but because it is evil. H.P. Lovecraft would often write about evil beings that exist for reasons so unfashionable and ancient that our human minds cannot comprehend, our human language has no words. It is an evil born of the depths of the cosmos or perhaps Lovecraft’s own simmering racism. Then again there is that compartmentalizing and explaining away evil.
As a horror writer I’ve written about evil deeds and evil beings, not because they are scary but because they resound with the reader. It is much easier to believe there are evil acts in this world than a seven foot demon with horns. Or is that the other way around. Would we have horror without evil? What is it about evil that scares us? I’m certainly not going to answer that in a blog post. Still I find posting the question is just as satisfying.