When I wrote my 2008 study of the horror genre, Knowing Fear, I remarked that horror is essentially conservative since it revolves around disruptions to the status quo and efforts, successful or not, to restore that status quo. At a macro level, the inherent conservatism of horror also tends to limit the originality of its stories, with new innovations being few and far between. Two new international Netflix horror series released last week illustrate these two points but do so in ways that vary greatly in their success as they work to add something new to two very familiar stories.
The Two Faces of Columbus: How a Genocidal Tyrant Became an Anti-Discrimination Icon for Italian-Americans
On Thursday, New York governor Andrew Cuomo said that he was not ready to remove a statue of Christopher Columbus from New York City because of what it means to Italian-Americans, specifically the role the figure played in helping to usher Italian-Americans into the America’s social mainstream. His comments, along with the destruction and removal of several Columbus statues across the United States, sparked a discussion about the role of Columbus in American life, but missing from the discussion was an acknowledgement of the role that the flawed symbol of Columbus played in standing against exactly the kind of racism and oppression that the vile real-life figure of Columbus perpetuated. The dual nature of Columbus as evil man and hopeful symbol needs unpacking to fully understand how the same statues can represent completely opposite ideas to different groups with shared antipathy to white supremacy.
A+E Networks Cancels "Live PD" on A&E after Protests but Leaves Racist History Channel Shows on the Air
Later this month, independent scholar Willem McLoud plans to hold a webinar to teach members of Ancient Origins that the Egyptian god Osiris was actually a Mesopotamian king. McLoud is going to base the claim on two papers he published over the past year, in which he argues for a new understanding of ancient history based on the self-aggrandizing “McLoud Chronological Model” of Egyptian history. Basically, he wants to rejigger the Middle Kingdom of Egypt to better fit with his preferred period of Mesopotamian history—questions of more import for Biblical history than anything else, really.
For each of the past two years, I have reviewed the new season of the controversial Netflix drama 13 Reasons Why. Now that the series debuted its fourth and final season on Friday, it seems like I should complete the circle. Given the quality of what they produced this year, I retroactively regret having tried to make the case against critical consensus that the prior seasons had something worthy to say, even if they didn’t always seem to be thematically appropriate successors to the complex and uncomfortably bleak first season. I don’t think I have ever seen a show switch genres and go so wildly off the rails by betraying its own purpose as it did in this final season. I would even argue that this garbage fire of a final batch of episodes only reinforced the original critics’ view that 13 Reasons Why was never anything more than exploitation masquerading as seriousness.
Due to prior commitments, I will not be posting today or tomorrow. I will return next week.
New Analysis of History Channel Viewer Data Finds Pseudohistory Viewers Follow Fake History Across the Dial
I'm an author and editor who has published on a range of topics, including archaeology, science, and horror fiction. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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