The 2017 remake of Stephen King’s classic novel It stormed in to theaters on September 8th, becoming the highest grossing horror movie of all time, bringing in a record breaking $478 million at the box office, and easily scaring away even the non-horror genre competition. Firmly implanting itself in the hearts of millions of fans worldwide, It provided a fresh, young audience with the true-to-original remake experience director Andy Muschietti should be applauded for.
Praise aside, there’s a serious discussion that must be had revolving around the distressing undertones of bigotry and social ostracization weaved into It’s plot. Sure, it seems uncomplicated, if not slightly clichéd, at first: Evil clown prays on children who manage to fight back and regain control of their sleepy Maine community. It’s a tale everyone’s heard at least once, right?
But look with a sociological eye, and see beneath the superficial slasher surface to the complexities… Maybe it’s not as simple as it looks. How would the audience feel if perhaps the horror façade broke away and instead revealed a story of a maybe not-so-evil clown struggling to feed himself as roaming gangs of townsfolk sought him out to inflict horrific physical abuse and forced starvation upon him?
“But Anne… He killed and ate children!”
And we kill and eat animals. Why? Because we enjoy their suffering? No, because they provide substance for the great majority of our population. It’s a reverential sacrifice that we make in order to ensure the health of our families, something we consider a greater good.
By casting an ambiguous moral judgement upon those who gain sustenance from means not like ourselves, the otherly-sustained if you will, we are demonstrating our own human-centric bigotry and bias. Further, by encouraging, or at least neglecting to call to attention, violence against those otherly-sustained individuals, we are guilty of perpetuating the vicious cycle of hate that saw the Nazis come to power in Germany. While that may seem like a far jump, fascist dictatorships always come to power through first the dehumanization of an ‘other’, and second through the glorification of violence against that ‘other’. It hits on both points, and you know it.
Far from asking you to rise to arms and protest the intensely insensitive portrayal of the otherly-sustained in It, I am simply asking for you to take the smallest steps possible to fight hate and bigotry: Be aware. Perhaps, even, care the slightest bit.