Sunday, December 11, 2011

The true horror of "Carrie"

Until I married Warning Signs founder TJ, I hadn't ever read any Stephen King books. It's not an opposites-attract relationship, as I'm a mild horror fan, but I always went more toward a bit more of the bad romance horror (Tami Hoag) and vampire movies. Beyond "Shawshank Redemption," I had no experience with King.

I'm taking his Constant Reading Project as a chance to get caught up. I read "Carrie" before he did this time, finishing it in two days. It would have been one, and about four hours, but I would have been up until about 4 a.m. and really regretted it at work the next day.

I think for his first published work, King had an easy subject — teenage girls are pure evil and require very little literary license.

Carrie is the star, the hero, the winner in this tale. No one is voting for the girl who leads the charge in making sure Carrie learns her place and stays in it, or even for the one working to help Carrie finally rise above her circumstances. You want Carrie to win (and TJ's right — you want Tommy Ross to win, too). Even if that means the entire town goes down for her to do it.

Here's an awful truth, for all of you who were never teenage girls: The crap that happens in "Carrie" really happens. "Mean Girls"? Yep. Hell, even "Cruel Intentions" is pretty much spot-on. In "Carrie," King vocalized what women everywhere already knew was happening. And then male directors said, "Hey! We can make money of this stuff!" and every plot for every teen movie (regardless of genre) was born. You've seen the idea of dumping something on the unpopular girl who unexpectedly won Prom Queen a million times.

As someone who survived high school hell, I can tell you the horror of "Carrie" is not her telekinetic abilities. It's not her cruel, uber-religious mother who locks her closets and thinks menstruation is evil.

The horror of "Carrie" is that a story that rang true in 1974 (and you know it did, because King's wife helped him out with the details of life as high school girl) rings true today. The horror is in the pure unadulterated evil that women are capable of unleashing on each other, sans supernatural abilities.

Every high school, every graduating class from the beginning of time has a Carrie. You know who she is, she's been that way since grade school and her efforts to change will be ridiculed until she manages to break free of our ridiculous educational-caste system. IF she manages to break free. Social media-induced suicide is a real and frightening phenomena in our society today.

Boys bring in guns to school. Girls pray they can develop telekinetic ability.

The horror in Carrie isn't the death and destruction of an entire town. The horror is an entire town let this girl's life go by unnoticed for 17 years. And then blamed her for her problems.

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