Mascot for #DevilDiss

Mascot for #DevilDiss
Mascot for #DevilDiss

Friday, December 28, 2012

The War on Grad School

The last few weeks, as the semester winds down, it seems as though academics have had some time on their hands. And a vocal majority seems to be using their time on the Interweb to make an argument against attending graduate school. This is not new, it seems as though since the latest recession hit, academics have done little but bang their hand against the desk and warn students against the evils of graduate school.
Some seem to come from a well intentioned place,   "The Case Against Graduate School" 
Some just come off as crazy talk, "Should You Go To Grad School?" 
Some target a very specific, small audience,   "Voices of the defenders of grad school. And me crushing them."
And the fun doesn't stop with reporters, or bloggers. It's a topic that has been picked up by the "authority" (some of whom I respect). In fact, The Chronicle seems to be running a revolving door of editorials on why no one should ever go to grad school, want to teach, or be part of a university.
 Some of these articles/editorials make some very good points:
  • A student should not put themself into large economic debt as a way of forestalling adult responsibility
  • Grad school should also not be used as a way to fill the time until you figure out what you really want to do
  • Students should have clear, realistic expectations of what an advanced degree will get them (money, status, job) and what it will not get them
  •  Students should immediately throw out the window any Dead Poet's Society, Dangerous Minds, Harry Potter inspired thoughts they have about what being a faculty member entails
As I have read these articles and editorials, I have found myself with a fairly visceral reaction.

Do I think 22 year olds should assume that graduate school is the next step because they don't know what else to do and think continuing in school is easy? No, of course not. Just as I don't believe that high school seniors should attend college because they aren't ready for adult responsibility. School should not be used as a stop gap to avoid real life, regardless of what level you are. However, there is a dangerous undercurrent to this argument. Part of it seems to be arguing that education, simply for itself, is not important. And that to me seems symptomatic of the larger issues we're experiencing in the United States. We appear to have stopped valuing education for itself, and only view it in the cold hard light of what it will get us. Yes, especially in hard times, people should have a realistic view of what they are getting, and not getting. But that doesn't mean that if you go in eyes wide open that you can't still choose to continue your education BECAUSE YOU WANT TO.
I also can't help but wonder at some of the long term logic of these professors handing out this advice. As a whole, the academic system seems to be plotting its own demise. Should grad school be easy? Of course not. You should have to work your ass off to get in, and work even harder to stay there. But blanket statements of NO, DON'T GO only seem to shoot the academic institution in the foot. If you tell everyone to stay away from graduate school, what exactly do you think happens in ten years, or fifteen, or twenty years to universities, colleges, and community colleges? Where does the staff come from? Where does the scholarship originate?

Perhaps the main reason I have such a reaction to these writings is personal. I am 36 years old. I have a BFA in theatre, specializing in technical theatre (I was a Master Electrician). After graduating, I spent several years in Atlanta and New York City working in my field- rock and roll shows, off-Broadway theatres, even WCW. Once in New York, I landed the gig of Joseph Papp Public Theatre. But I began to be bored with politics, and saw an ad for NYC Teaching Fellows. I jumped on it. I spent the summer months in a crash course of how to teach, and in September 2001 was dumped in my very own classroom in Brooklyn. I lived through September 11th. Part of the NYC Teaching Fellows program was they paid for our Masters in Education. I spent three years teaching full time, and commuting to City University of New York: College of Staten Island. Three hours one way on public transportation. I taught there until my mom's illness necessitated a move back home to help care for her. I secured a job teaching in North Carolina, and have been here for eight years. During that time, I spent four summers attending the Bread Loaf School of English earning my Masters in English literature. For a semester, to transfer a course in, I drove two hours one way to East Carolina University once a week for this class. I graduated in 2010. 
I then spent the next two years thinking of what I wanted to do. I decided I wanted to move up to teaching at the college level. So I took courses in how to teach in Moodle and Blackboard. I got a job teaching for North Carolina Virtual Public School. I got a job adjuncting for the local community college. I presented at conferences, and started to write reviews for journals. I did everything I could to make myself an attractive candidate. And the last year plunged into the job market. I figured I would give myself a year to see how far I could get with 10-11 years of teaching experience and two Masters. The answer was no where.
So I decided to go back to school and get my PhD. 

I did not decide to go because I didn't want to deal with the real world. I didn't choose financial debt for decades (I only applied to schools where I'd be fully funded). I am not unaware of the employment issues post-graduation. I know what the issues are going in. But I also know that with my very specific goal of wanting to teach at the college level, to be part of the academic coversation in my field, that there is no other way to get there.

So stop telling me I shouldn't go. Because frankly, I've jumped bigger hurdles than your condescending disapproval in my life.   

Monday, December 24, 2012

End of Year Review: Epiphany by Happenstance

Sometimes it's hard to trace good things back to a specific event. Too often, things jumble together in a big ball of goo and you just do your best to keep up. This year though, as 2012 counts down to the end, I am able to look back and pinpoint one particular moment of coolness, that developed into lots of wonderful opportunities, and if I slink into fangirl mode, well, get over it.

In October, a flyer appeared on a friend's Facebook feed...
I was interested for two reasons- the first is, I am at heart, a geek girl, and the idea that there was an academic that made a living from this intrigued me. For the last couple of years, I've had repeated conversations with my friend Dion, that I wish I knew in undergrad that film and cultural studies was a thing, because I would have had a different life (then again, it is a relatively recent development, and I graduated in '98, so maybe not). However all the people I've met who present, write, talk about film and culture studies tend to do it on the side- as though to say it was okay to do for fun, but it couldn't be your main job. This was what this guys DID, and I was interested.
The second was the idea of Batman as "Folk Hero" appealed to my latest research, which seemed to be veering more towards how folkloric characters were recycled and reimagined in popular culture.
Because I'm a nerd, as well as a geek, I got the book from interlibrary loan (thank you Sharon, the best local librarian in the world) and read it so I would understand the talk better.

The day came, and I drove the two plus hours to Greenville after school to hear the talk. The hour pre-talk of listening to rabid fanboys was pretty funny, and made me wish Dion was there, because it was one of those things you wish you had a friend there to see you roll your eyes.
The talk was really interesting, and I stayed afterwards, got to talk to the other Will, Will Banks, and got a neat introduction to a Milton scholar from him, who actually told me my research was interesting, and not a take he'd heard of before.
Then I drove the two plus hours home, and fell exhausted into my bed because the next day was a school day, and I had to teach.

A perfectly nice way to spend an evening, but here was the tipping point- Dr. Brooker, during his talk, mentioned that he was tweeting about his talk, and at the end, said if any of us had questions he hadn't gotten to, to tweet him.
Now I have avoided Twitter like the plague. It seemed to me like it was gossip and ugliness in real time. BUT, Dr. Brooker's mention of it brought up an interesting point- what else gave people the opportunity to have conversations with academics an ocean away?
So I set up a Twitter account, and started looking up people in my field, people whose articles I admired, and plenty of geeks, because that's what you do.

That was a little under two months ago. And here's the quick progression from there:
  • I follow Oxford on Twitter, and this video popped up in my feed one morning. It's a little long, but well worth it. There are lots of wonderful things in it, but what struck me most was when Dr. Melissa Terras talks about how it used to be that you went to grad school, and maybe, if you were lucky, met one person who was in your field. If you were able to attend conferences, maybe you'd meet one or two others, but that was it. There were few opportunities to share your thought process, your research, and ideas with others in your field. Dr. Terras says that personally blogging/archiving your papers gives you an opportunity to get your research out there and Twitter allows you to share that it's out there. This seems like a relatively simple thing, but it was pretty big mindset change for me. I'd been keeping this blog for a couple of years, as a result of Dr. Banks' class, and a way to organize my thoughts. Dr. Terras' talk was not only a justification of what I was doing, but an encouragement to take it further.
  • A little later, this graphic appeared, seemingly more encouragement:   

  • Dr. Brooker posted CRISIS ON INBETWEEN EARTHS. A great, personal look at comics. A couple of days later, he posted that Billy Proctor, who runs the site, was looking for people to write articles. I was struck with inspiration (despite it being the end of the semester, and my interests in everything else flagging). I sent Billy the article, and "Geek By Proxy" will be published after the new year on Infinite Earths.
  • A little later, popped up in my feed, and posted that they were looking for new staff writers. I have no idea why they did, but they chose me! And so far, I've written two articles for them: Arrow Still Missing the Mark and  On the 6th day before Christmas, my true love gave to me, movies and TV to see…  At this point, I'm hoping they don't change their mind!

 All of this because I saw one flyer, and as a geek decided to follow one person.

At what other time and place would I be able to have conversations with academics that are thousands of miles away? Share my research, my sticking points, my thought process? What else would let me blend my academic interest in cultural studies with my geek girl self?

Now, I'll confess, I'm still not sure I have this Twitter stuff figured out. 
  • It seems presumptuous to post something and tag people, assuming they'd be interested (which despite my misgivings, I will do with this article). I think I've committed a couple of faux pas with this, as I've gotten the response of "what is this?" and have quickly retreated with a "Apologies!" In a lot of ways, I still have a hard time thinking anyone would be interested in anything I have to say. 
    • That being said, I wish some of the people I followed on Twitter knew that they are people I admire, for their scholarship, and their career choices. They may not know it, but they are virtual mentors to me. They are proof that it can be done.
  • I think there's an etiquette rulebook I'm unaware of- I tend to follow people back who follow me if they have similar interests. But are you supposed to be offended (or saddened?) if people you like and have conversations with don't follow you back?
    • As I suck at networking (and socializing for that matter) I may just have to learn to live with this.
  • If you use Twitter for business, to get your ideas out there, and make contacts in and around your field, is the best policy just to post away and hope the people come? Is it a Field of Dreams thing?
It was less than one year ago that I wrote my first review (for Journal of Folklore Research Review). Since then, I've written three other reviews for three separate journals. I've presented, and chaired at SAMLA 2012, PCAS/ACAS 2012, and asked to present at the National Popular Culture Conference in Washington D.C in March, and chair my panel. While I still struggle with getting anything published, article wise, I continue to spend my free time editing and revising, hoping I'll get it right at some point. It's times like these when I really miss having an academic support system to help out.
And all of those things are wonderful, but here's the epiphany that these events inspired- it is possible to spend your life, academically, writing about things you love. Comics and movies are not silly, or inconsequential. Popular culture is important, and worthy of study. This has led me in my recent research to argue that popular culture figures have in many ways become modern folklore- characters, themes, and tropes that are recognizable across divides, and passed from generation to generation. In my research about television shows based on fairy tales, and how  digital communities influence the storytelling, I've been inspired by Dr. Brooker's concept of a matrix. There are people out there that have learned to balance being a geek, and being an academic.

As I sit and wait to hear from acceptance into PhD programs, and so much seems in limbo, the reassurance that I'm not insane to pursue this seems like the perfect way to end the year, and start a new adventure.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Bogeyman of Your Nightmares: Freddy Krueger’s Folkloric Roots REVISING FOR PUBLICATION

Postscript: 8 July 2014. This piece, revised and expanded now appears in Studies in Popular Culture 36.2 (Spring 2014).
The Bogeyman of Your Nightmares: Freddy Krueger’s Folkloric Roots
Some ideas have become so universal, that we no longer stop to think about their origins. The dark man hiding in the shadows, the bogeyman under the bed, the nebulous threat in the night that punished bad children- these are all concepts we’re familiar with. Perhaps we associate it in a vague sense with the fairy tales we read as a child. Later, we may associate it with the horror films we watch as teenagers. Most of us probably do not stop to think about the origin of these ideas or the significance of these origins.
    Jack Zipes argues in Breaking the Magic Spell that “the folk tale was (and still is) an oral narrative form cultivated by non-literate and literate people to express the manner in which they perceived and perceive nature and their social order and their wish to satisfy their needs and wants” (7). He further states that “each historical epoch and each community altered the original folk tales according to its needs as they were handed down over the centuries” (8). However, in seeming contrast to these statements, he also argues that mass media  and the commercial interests of the culture it reflects do not accurately portray the original intent, purpose, or stories of the original fairy tales (140).
    I would argue that by stating that Zipes is missing an opportunity on two counts. The first is his work makes a clear distinction between “true”, original folk tales and fairy tales and “less true” modern imaginings. The assumption that there is only one way to read these tales (true or less true) disregards any modern imagining as being valid, or true. The second is he also draws a clear line between the cultures and societies that originated these tales, and the modern day. Zipes does not acknowledge that any connections can be made between these older, oral cultures, and popular culture today. I argue that due to the intertextuality of today’s popular culture, that it is the first time since the original time of these tales that an era has so closely replicated that of the original. If we substitute “oral-narrative” form for popular culture, then we have new lens through which to view popular culture, that of modern folklore. Further examining Zipes’ definition that the purpose of these tales was for “people to express the manner in which they perceived and perceive nature and their social order and their wish to satisfy their needs and wants” we can specifically look at aspects of popular culture where a groups needs, wants, and fears are addressed, the modern day horror film. The modern day horror film as a reflection of American cultures’ fears and cultural wants has been a focus of recent scholarship, most notably in Projected Fears: Horror Films and American Culture, Horror Film and Psychoanalysis, and Men, Women and Chainsaws. This is not to say that all horror films are folkloric, as not all popular culture is folkloric. However, it is worth examining certain characters, themes, and motifs that occur through generations, and across socio-economic divides in order to analyze which aspects of folklore can be seen in modern popular culture.
    Analyzing folk tales within films opens up a new avenue of research. Currently, the closest scholarship found on this subject has dealt with reimaginings of known folk tales/fairy tales. While this is an excellent starting point, and provides a framework, it falls short of the aim of this research. However, the current research can easily be applied to analyzing popular culture for its folkloric elements. Doughty states that
Each time a new method of distributing story comes about, folktales are one of the first types of stories spread, and each new medium adapts and continues to adapt folktales to this medium, first as “faithful” representations- traditional versions- and then as revisions (128)
Doughty goes on to state that there are also offshoots of the folktale tradition, such as specific tales that are revised in different forms, the presence of folktales in high fantasy novels, and finally, the path that this paper addresses, where authors “create new tales that respond clearly to the folktale tradition without revising a single tale”. These tales incorporate elements from other tales, may have a modern or “non-traditional setting yet contain elements that are part of the folklore tradition and also comment on that tradition” (130). While Doughty specifically refers to the literary tradition of folktales, as has been shown in film and culture studies, the same types of analysis can be applied to other genres. The argument that modern popular culture can be seen as new folklore is reinforced by Doughty’s argument that “Regardless of how folktales revisions are shaped, the main element that ties them together is their intertexutality” (165). Just as in the literary tradition, authors draw parallels to stories, characters, and elements known to the audience of folktales, so does popular culture depend on the audience’s previous knowledge of texts, a matrix as Brooker states, that is made up of references in comics, film, text, and literature.
While much has been written about modern day horror films in the form of the Final Girl, or the significance of what horror films represent for an age or generation, and scholarship has focused on the different variants of folk tales and fairy tales, as well as their modern reimagings, the origin of modern day horror film bogeymen and their fairy tale/folkloric roots has not been explored. This paper will specifically examine Freddy Krueger from Nightmare on Elm Street and explore the significance of his fairy tale/folkloric roots and his role as a modern day bogeyman.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the term bogy/bogey from which bogeyman is derived, has only recently been found in literature- 1840 Witches Frolic in Ingoldsby Legends. There is some anecdotal evidence that reference to bogy can be found “in the nursery” and is related to the terms bog, bogle, and bug, all words with connotations of terror. A Dictionary of English Folklore defines a bogey or bogeyman as “any figure deliberately used to frighten others, almost always children, to control their behavior” (28). They are also creatures whose nature is not defined, where shapechanging is a “standard feature”, and sometimes replace the Devil in agreement or deal stories (29).
In Germanic folktales and fairy tales, the bogeyman has been identified with many names and titles such as bögge, Der schwarze Mann (the black man), or Krampus (the sidekick of St. Nicholas who stuffs bad children into a sack and carries them off for punishment) and his presence is tied to the disappearance of children, or child abuse or punishment. He is the dark man that lurks under the bed, or in dark places, to steal or punish children. He is also used to frighten children, or serve as an example for acceptable, and unacceptable, behavior. According to Warner, the bogeyman is known as a shapechanger (11), a child molester, child-snatcher, child-killer, and sexual violators of the young (285), and there is a connection between the bogeyman and fire and earth. There is also the association of the bogeyman with lullabies. Rohrich makes connections between the bogeyman and the devil’s pact stories seen in German folklore.
While bogeymen may appear across different cultures and genres, Warner in No Go the Bogeyman: Scaring, Lulling, and Making Mock, she argues that there are common traits to be found in bogeymen across the globe.  Bogeys can become anything, they are usually defined more for all the ways they change their shape than for any one shape (Warner 11). They are often cannibals, or exhibit cannibalistic tendencies (Warner 12-13). There is a connection between bogeymen and the ogres and giants of Greek mythology, specifically a connection to fire and earth and their “frightening past”s (Warner 95, 96). Warner also states that as survival rates in children role, the bogeyman transformed into a child molester (38). There is a connection between lullabies and the bogeyman- they served as a warning of the dangers of the bogeyman (Warner 228) Bogeys seen today are often portrayed as child-snatchers, child-killers, sexual violators of the young (Warner 285).
The line between bogeymen and devils is blurred in German folklore with them often appearing interchangeable. The folk tradition, “contrary to the literary conception...[had] a more visual and concrete idea of the devil” (Rohrich 23). Rohrich states that “whenever people saw or felt anything sinful, the devil was considered to be present” (24). If someone danced, or cursed, or committed any other sin, it was common practice for people to be warned that the devil will get you. The trickster devil, that often appears in folktales is both an embodiment of the Biblical devil seen in “medieval theology” and the figure seen “historically and culturally” (Rohrich 27). The bogeyman functioned in the same way for children, as these devils did for adults, so it’s important to look at other similarities between them.Devils were often betrayed by trickery by a human, sometimes characterized as a partner, or seen in league with the devil (Rohrich 30). These devil characters were associated with other pagan demons, and giants. One of the most common storylines is that of the devil’s pact: In Grimm’s tales, there is also the instance of Zeungungsweihe- when a child (deliberately, or not) is assigned to a devil (Grimm No. 31, 92, Rumplestiltskin).
Horror Movie Villains: Michael Meyers and Jason Voorhies
Rohrich states that “devil legends and devil tales are now undoubtedly only historical material- they no longer belong to current folklore” (22). I would argue that these tales of bogeymen have moved from literary folklore, to modern day’s version of word of mouth- film and popular culture. This new folklore is generational, with tales being passed down and retold for a new generation, and word of mouth has become the intertextuality of popular culture. The major horror franchises- Halloween, Friday the 13th, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Nightmare on Elm Street are all stories that have been passed down, in the continuing of franchises, and retold by and for a new generation in the recent remakes and reboots of these movies. The characters of Michael Meyers, Jason Voorhies, Leatherface, and Freddy Krueger have many of the characteristics of folk characters, and are recognizable across cultures and classes.
While many horror movie villains appear to have some supernatural qualities such as speed, invincibility, there are nevertheless firmly grounded in reality. Freddy Krueger on the other hand exists only in the dream world. This “living nightmare” aspect, that comes to life to punish bad children/people is what reveals Krueger’s folkloric roots as a bogeyman.
In order to distinguish Krueger as a bogeyman it is first important to differentiate him from other horror movie villains. Phillips argues that Michael Meyers is a bogeyman, for several reasons, he is a “punishing avenger” (126) who reflects the “changes in sexual morailty” of the sexual revolution of a younger generation (130).
Phillip states that “the essential quality of the bogeyman is her (or, at times, her) relationship to cultural boundaries.” (133) and that the “bogeyman becomes an example of what happens to those who transgress the boundaries” (133). He further goes on to argue that “The bogeyman, after all, has long inhabited the fairy tales told to children and, in this familiar format, his function has been as a threatening punisher.” (134). He argues that American culture of the 1970s with it’s permissive nature, was primed for a bogeyman that would reinforce limits and boundaries. While there are merits to Phillips argument, there are also a couple of flaws. While the cultural scene of the 1970s can certainly be read as needing figures who imposed boundaries, the weakness of his argument is in the lack of depth in her description of bogeyman. A better statement would be that while the cultural morays of the time might have called for a bogeyman, that was a reflection for a need of boundaries, the horror movie villains that appear in reaction to this are not true reflections of the bogeyman.
Phillips appears to acknowledge at least part of this by stating that Michael Meyers “represents a very different aspect of the bogeyman” one who does not insert chaos into the story or world but punishes the wicked. He states that this punishing aspect represents a “cultural return”, or want for a return to a more conservative time. I argue that this is a misreading of the folklore. The bogeyman was never portrayed as an agent of chaos in folklore, in fact, he was the opposite. While his actions were terrifying and horrible, his actions, his punishments were always as a direct result of wrong doing. There is a clear cause and effect in the bogeyman tales. The victims of his order might not understand, or agree with the bogeyman’s imposing of it, but he did bring order. His original purpose was to stand as an object lesson to an entire generation.
Michael Meyers is at his base, a psychotic killer. To return to Phillips’ idea, he represents the bogeyman as seen through the cultural lens of the 1970s, not the folkloric bogeyman. Meyers’ purpose in the movie, which later becomes the template for slasher films in general, is to punish wrongdoers, specifically young men and woman of loose morals. Phillips reads this as standing “in for the disciplining parental figure” (138). Michael Meyers kills his older sister who has just had sex at the beginning of the movie, and then returns fifteen years later to kill Annie, Lynda, Lynda’s boyfriend Bob after sex. While these immoral acts may serve as his trigger, Michael Meyers is not motivated by anything, but functions as a sociopath, a mass murderer. While Michael Meyers is specifically called “the bogeyman” within the movie, he displays no characteristics of this folkloric character, he does not exhibit supernatural powers and under the reality of the movie, it is stated that he only appears on Halloween, and no other description of him as bogeyman is given.    Both Tommy, and Laurie both call Meyers the bogeyman, and Phillips focuses on the single aspect of the bogeyman as punisher, while ignoring the other aspects/characteristics of the figure. The focus of the film rather is on the horror movie as morality play, where immoral acts are punished, and virtue rewarded. While later in the franchise Meyers’ name is used to frighten children in Haddenfield, and appears to have entered that town’s folklore, at most he has become part of folk culture, and bears no resemblance to the bogeyman.
On the surface, Jason Voorhies seems to be supernatural in nature and a good candidate for bogeyman. However, like Michael Meyers, he only functions as part of Camp Crystal Lake’s folklore, and never displays the characteristics of a bogeyman. Jason Voorhies is motivated by revenge. It is revealed at the beginning of Friday the 13th Part 2 that Jason Voorhies is “still out there” and the movie picks up two months after Mrs. Voorhees killing spree at Camp Crystal Lake and begins with  the murder of Alice Hardy. The movie then jumps ahead five years and finds a camp opening just down the road from Camp Crystal Lake. The young counselors are systematically murdered as punishment for their immoral behavior(drinking, getting high, having sex).  While Jason’s murder of Alice is based on revenge, the rest of the killings of the counselors fall into the classic trope of horror movie as morality play.  While later in both franchises, Michael Myers and Jason Voorhies both appear to have some supernatural abilities, it is hard to know whether these are a function of keeping the franchise alive, and what is character development. Steve Miner, the director of Friday the 13th, Part 2, has explained away Jason’s apparently supernatural appearance in Part 2 as “In my film, Jason looks much different,” Miner states, “but that could be because he’s five years older now. Yet he’s not the living dead, as some rumors have speculated. I think that Jason survived his drowning. That’s how I approached it, but that doesn’t mean that Alice saw the real Jason” (Burns). Whichever explanation you choose to accept, while both Michael and Jason demonstrate some supernatural abilities, they themselves remain firmly grounded in reality. They handle real weapons, murder their victims with their own hands, and these murders appear in full view of the audience.
Freddy Krueger
Freddy Krueger is specifically named as a bogeyman in Craven’s original Nightmare on Elm Street. After the opening scene, as Tina discusses her dreams with Glen and Nancy, Nancy says “sounds like a real bogeyman” and then goes on to quote the first line of the lullaby, “One, Two Freddy’s coming for you...”. Later, Nancy asks Glen “Do you believe in the bogeyman?”. And finally, Glen’s response to Nancy’s plan to catch Freddy, and his role in it is “great, I get to baseball bat the bogeyman”. While Nightmare 2010 does not specifically name Krueger as a bogeyman, as with the original, he fits the characterization. Both imaginings of Krueger are portrayed violators of the young, both punish the parents of the town through their children and both exist in the strictly supernatural world of the dreamscape.
Warner states that bogeys can become anything, they are usually defined more for all the ways they change their shape than for any one shape (11). This can be seen in the original Nightmare and Nightmare 2010, when the outline of Freddy Krueger’s head and face push out of the wall over Nancy as she dozes. It is seen again in the original when Krueger stretches out his puppet like arms after Tina, when Tina pulls his face off, when Krueger appears as the hall monitor, and finally, when Nancy’s phone morphs into Krueger’s tongue and mouth. The original emphasizes this shapeshifting more than the remake does.
Warner states that as survival rates in children role, the bogeyman transformed into a child molester (38) and that Bogeys seen today are often portrayed as child-snatchers, child-killers, and sexual violators of the young (285). In Craven’s Nightmare, Krueger is only described as a child killer- twenty children are killed, and the parents tracked him to the boiler room and set fire to it as justice . In an interview, Robert Englund states that:
“Wes wrote the most evil, corrupt thing he could think of. Originally, that meant Freddy was a child molester. Right while we were shooting the first Nightmare, there was a huge scandal based around an area of single parent yuppies in California known as South Bay. Child molesters had descended on this unsupervised flotsam of seventies leftover Me-generation American children. On the spot we changed the script from child molester to child murderer; mainly so Wes wouldn’t be accused of exploiting the South Bay case” (Robb).
Nightmare 2010 takes the idea of Freddy Krueger as child molester and makes it the entire center of the movie. This is clear from the opening credits, with the focus on children playing games such as hop-scotch and jumping rope on school grounds, the childlike handwriting used for the credits, and children’s drawings interspersed amongst the credits. This emphasis continues throughout the movie. Knowledge of Krueger is tied to the children, Badham Pre-School, and what really occurred there. Dean mentions this in the opening scene, when he says his problems began when he and his therapist began exploring his past, and that was when the nightmares began, when he started to remember. Freddy also emphasizes that the children remembering is crucial. He says to Kris “Remember me?” and to Nancy “You don’t remember? You must” and “Your memories are what fuels me.” Nancy’s mom states that she kept all of this from her because “I wanted you to forget”. Quentin later states that Krueger manipulated them into returning to the pre-school so that they would remember. This focus on memory not only ties to the oral nature of folklore, but the function of the bogeyman- to serve as a lesson to others, which can only occur if people remember the story.  It also circles back to the fact that Krueger’s purpose is not just to punish his victims, as Meyers and Voorhies do, but to torture them. Both incarnations of Krueger are the violators of children that Warner describes, although how they violate children is different in each version.
While the original Nightmare avoids the concept of Krueger as child molester, and only states that he is a child killer, there is a sexual connection made between Krueger and Nancy reinforcing the image of bogeyman as violator of the young. Once Glen is killed, and Nancy’s unplugged phone rings, it’s Krueger on the other end who states “I’m your boyfriend now”. Haley’s Krueger repeats this exact line in Nightmare 2010 but his portrayal is much more sexual. In Nightmare 2010 when Nancy says “Fuck you” his reply is “Oh- that sounds like fun” and later when Nancy is trying to escape through a hallway that has become a swamp of blood, he taunts “How’s this for a wet dream?”. Perhaps nowhere though, is the sex more explicit than at the end, when Nancy has purposely fallen asleep in order to try and bring Krueger back into the real world. Nancy is dropped onto a bed, recalling both Tina and Glen’s deaths in the original, as well as Kris’ in this version. This scene is not just sexual, but is sexual towards the younger version of Nancy, the pre-school age Nancy. While it is the adult aged Nancy that is shown, she is dressed in the white dress and patent leather shoes seen in the flashbacks of her younger self. Krueger tells her that this dress was always his favorite, and he makes references to “playing” like they used to. He suggestively runs his claw glove up up her thigh- it is the child imagery that makes this a more disturbing scene than the claw glove appearing between Nancy’s legs in the bath tub scenes in both versions. Haley’s performance, particularly in this bed scene reinforces the image of bogeyman as child molester.
The twist in Nightmare 2010 is not that Freddy Krueger is portrayed as a child molester, but that the plot plays with whether Freddy was ever guilty at all. Flashback scenes show him as a kindly gardener who worked at Badham Pre-School, playing what appear to be harmless games with the kids, who are laughing as they play. As Nancy’s mother Gwen states “He got along so well with the children” and “And you all loved to play games with him.” When Quentin is pulled from the pool into the dreamscape, Freddy does not come after him, but instead shows him the time of his death. The parents are shown as an angry mob, and Krueger as played by Haley shows a terrified man who cries and proclaims his innocence over and over- “I didn’t do anything”. The parents don’t just kill him, they burn him alive, a scene described, but never shown in the original. When Quentin confronts his father, it appears as though he believes what he has seen, despite that the one rule with Krueger is that you can never believe what you see in the dreamscape. He questions his father about Krueger, asking him “How did you know he was guilty?” and the conversation quickly disintegrates as Quentin accuses him, stating “You killed an innocent man”. However, as the movie later shows, all of this was simply a manipulation to get Nancy back to the school, where she would eventually find not only her paintings in the “cave” Krueger used to bring her, but also, what the audience assumes, are incredibly graphic Polaroids that prove to all be of Nancy. It was all a manipulation to get them to remember. This emphasizes the concept of the bogeyman as a torturer of children. Krueger’s manipulation of the children is his form of mental torture that makes the truth of what Krueger and what he did even more traumatic.
There is also a connection between lullabies and the bogeyman as they served as a warning of the dangers of the bogeyman (Warner 228). The lullaby first appears in Craven’s Nightmare in the opening dream, three girls in white dresses jump rope to it “One, two, Freddy’s coming for you. Three, Four Better lock your door. Five, Six Grab your crucifix. Seven, Eight Better stay up late. Nine, Ten Never sleep again”.  Later, Nancy sings snatches of it in the bath tub. The image of the three girls jumping rope to the lullaby also closes the movie. Nightmare 2010 also features the image of three girls in white jumping rope, but here, they are placed on the property of Badham Pre-School, so the implication is that these were actual children Freddy knew. Nancy also mentions the lullaby to Jesse later in the film. The lullaby here serves the same purpose as in folklore, it is meant as a warning about the bogeyman and reinforces the oral nature of folklore.
Connections can also be made between bogeymen and the devil’s pact seen in German fairy tales and folklore. As Rohrich states, in Grimm’s tales, there is the example of Zeungungsweihe- when a child (deliberately, or undeliberately) is assigned to a devil such as in Grimm No. 31 where a miller inadvertently gives his daughter to the devil in exchange for wealth, No. 92 where a merchant makes a deal for riches with a black dwarf, in exchange for what ends up being his son, and No.55 where the miller’s daughter promises her first born child to Rumplestiltskin (Grimm). In each case, the parent is guilty of making a deal they do not fully understand the implications of . In Nightmare on Elm Street, the actions of the parents have inadvertently assigned their children to Freddy Krueger. In both Nightmares, the children are paying for the sins of the parents- their murder of Freddy Krueger. In Nightmare 2010, this is implicitly stated when Quentin references the Pied Piper of Hamlin, who took revenge on the town by taking their children. By taking revenge into their own hands, the parents of Elm Street have inadvertently linked themselves, and their children with Freddy Krueger. They have made a deal with the devil that they do not understand the consequences of. Freddy Krueger is not only tied to the children, but takes his revenge on the parents through his mental and physical torture of the children.
There is also a connection of bogeymen with fire and earth, connecting them to the giants of mythology (Warner 95, 96). Freddy Krueger, in both imaginings, is closely tied with these images. First, with his burns, but also with his dreamscape- a boiler room/basement. This imagery appears in the opening sequence of Craven’s Nightmare as Tina stands in front of fire, in a boiler room/basement, surrounded by steam pipes. Later, Nancy also goes down to this boiler room/basement. There is a further connection when Nancy’s mom tells the story of Freddy Krueger and reveals that she kept his glove, in an old furnace/stove. In this Nightmare, the boiler room/basement is connected to where Freddy Krueger was killed, but in the remake, it is specifically stated that Krueger lived in the basement of the pre-school, so there is a blurring of where Freddy lived, versus where he was killed- the seemingly abandoned industrial park. In Nightmare 2010, fire first appears in the opening scene, as Dean walks through the kitchen of the dinner. Freddy is described as “burned, melted” and frequently, the shots focus on close ups of Freddy’s claws as they create sparks when dragged along pipes in the boiler room/basement. Freddy is tied to the fire of bogeymans/giants past through his death, and with the earth with the boiler room/basement being underground.
In both films, Krueger exists only in the dreamworld, the realm of the supernatural, of the bogeyman. He is incapable of acting in the real world, although sometimes the effects of his actions can be carried into the real world. Craven’s Nancy carries a burn she gave herself in the dreamscape boiler room into reality, The lock of hair that Krueger slices off in the dreamscape also follows her back to the classroom. Nancy in both versions is capable of bringing back something of Freddy’s- his hat and a piece of his sweater.
Krueger can only get to the children once they fall asleep. In both films, we never see Krueger kill anyone in the real world. Dean in Nightmare 2010 appears to slit his own throat with a steak knife as Kris watches, Tina is spun around the ceiling and then slit open before falling dead onto the bed, as is Kris. The audience sees Rod get strangled and hanged by a sheet, but as if by an invisible force. Jesse’s death (the Rod character in 2010) flashes back and forth between the reality, and the dreamscape. In the dreamscape, he sees children, and the bodies of Dean and Kris in the boiler room. In reality, he is sliced open, and his bloody body simply falls to the floor in the locked cell. There is one more flashback to the dreamscape as Krueger tells Jesse that the brain “lives for seven minutes after death. We have six more minutes to play.” Again, this circles back to the idea that Krueger’s purpose is not punishment but torture of these children. It also reinforces Krueger’s connection to the supernatural and bogeymen.
While the ending of both movies would seem to suggest at first that Freddy can operate in the real world, this is eventually disproved. At the end of Craven’s Nightmare, Freddy is apparently dragged into the real world by Nancy, as seen in the complex booby trap end scenes. However, there are problems with buying into this. Freddy and the body of Nancy’s mother disappear into the bed, which argues against this scene taking place in reality. Also, Nancy is able to banish Freddy by stating “This is just a dream” despite words not having an effect on him before. This idea is banished for good when the closing scene shows that Nancy never left the dream world- as she and her friends are trapped in the Freddy car, and her mother is pulled back through the window in the door. Nightmare 2010 also plays with idea of Freddy existing in the real world, but as in the original, disproves it. The climatic scene centers around Nancy bringing Freddy out of the dreamscape and into the real world where she is able to cut off his hand and decapitate him before burning down the pre-school with his body still in it. However, in the final scene, as Nancy and her mother return home, Freddy appears in the mirror behind the mother, pulls her through the mirror, which shatters and then reforms with the mother’s blood on the outside, proving that the dream continues. This is further emphasized as the credits roll to the lyrics “ Whenever I want you, all I have to do is dream” by the Everly Brothers. The implication is that Freddy Krueger can never be destroyed, that as long as people dream, and remember him, the bogeyman will always exist.
While at first glance it may appear as though Freddy could be put in the same category as Michael Meyers and Jason Voorhies, his characterization, in both Craven’s original and the 2010 remake show that Krueger has deep connections to the bogeyman of folklore. He shares with bogeymen the characterization of a child killer in Craven’s version, and  child molester in the 2010 remake. He harks back to deals made with the devil in Grimm’s stories, as the children were inadvertently traded to Krueger through the actions of the parents. The bogeyman as seductor is seen in the references to The Pied Piper of Hamlin, and as Krueger punishes the parents of the town through their children.  Krueger as a bogeyman character is also supported by him only existing in the strictly supernatural world of the dreamscape and characters’ constant failure to destroy him.
The definition of folklore is “stories of a community passed down through generations by word of mouth”. Folklore in the modern world is very different than two hundred, or even one hundred years ago. Technology has changed how we tell stories, and global communications has redefined “word of mouth”. Furthermore, if we expand our definition of word of mouth to mean popular culture, then it’s easy to see that horror movies are the modern day’s answer to folklore. Ask anyone if they know who Michael Meyers, Jason Voorhies, and Freddy Krueger are- their stature alone would seem to indicate their folkloric status. Once we’ve situated these movies in this matrix, the opportunities for further research open up. Why do some of these characters display folkloric characteristics and some don’t? What is the significance of this? How do we situate this within the larger context of horror films as folklore? In what other ways do horror movies function as folklore? How do they inform or influence other mediums of “word of mouth”/popular culture? Finally, if true folklore is no longer being created, then studies such as this serve as a way to reinvigorate folklore studies and make previously ignored connections between folklore and popular culture.

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