Monster Culture (Seven Theses): Reflections On Our Fears

Introduction to Monsters and Their Cultural Reflections

“We make our own monsters, then fear them for what they show us about ourselves.” (Carey) Monsters have been around for a very long time. They are in novels, movies, series, and even comic books. Monsters are creatures created by us for many different reasons, such as pleasure. There are thousands of different kinds of monsters. Other than being crazy scary, they all have one thing in common: they eat people.

Jeffrey Cohen’s Monster Culture (Seven Theses)

To help us understand the concept of monsters and why we create them, we are going to analyze Jeffrey Cohen’s essay, Monster Culture (Seven Theses). In his essay, Cohen argues that the monsters we create reflect our cultures. He provides seven theses that describe monsters in our society and explains how and why they are created. The seven theses help us analyze different cultures using the monsters they create. By locating the origin of monsters and where they come from, Cohen strives to reveal our culture’s values and likelihood. I agree with Cohen’s perspective; monsters are created by cultures to reflect humanity’s fear and desire and represent a cultural moment, and for that, they cannot be killed forever.

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Monster culture (Seven theses), by Jeffrey Cohen, declares a new modus legend, or an approach to understanding cultures through the monsters they create. He disobeys two older and holy modes. He explains, “I will partially violate two of the sacred dicta of recent cultural studies: the compulsion to historical specificity and the insistence that all knowledge is local.” He also analyzes how monsters are created in our society and cultures. Cohen provides seven theses that help us understand different cultures through their monsters; he also explains that monsters reflect our society’s fear, desire, anxiety, and fantasy. He has one shared point in all seven theses: Monsters cannot be killed or hidden forever; they always find a way to come back. Cohen’s seven theses are extremely strong that each one could act as its own argument.

Analyzing Cohen’s Theses with Modern Monster Archetypes

For this purpose, we shall focus on three of his theses, which, in my opinion, are the most relevant. The first thesis we will be discussing is thesis number one: The Monster’s Body is a Cultural Body, where Cohen explains that the monsters we create are a symbol or a representation of a feeling or a cultural moment. The second thesis we will be discussing is thesis number five: The Monster Polices, The Borders of the Possible, where Cohen explains that monsters are a warning of the unknown and that when we try to explore the unknown, we are punished, not rewarded. The third and last thesis we will be discussing is thesis number six: Fear of the Monster is Really a Kind of Desire, where Cohen claims that people tend to have some kind of desire to be scared of monsters. We shall connect Cohen’s three theses with three common monsters we have all heard of and seen in movies. These three monsters are Godzilla, The Megalodon, and Dinosaurs.

An In-depth Analysis: Godzilla as a Cultural Symbol

Godzilla, king of the monsters, is one of the most famous monsters on the planet. Godzilla, also called Gojira, first appeared on television in 1954. Since then, there have been many movie reproductions of him. He also appears in video games, series, and cartoons. Godzilla became an international icon in a short time. He is so popular that there is another movie of him coming out in 2019. Godzilla is described as a gigantic, disastrous, primitive sea creature that looks like a giant lizard, which got empowered and created as the result of nuclear radiation of war back in the 1940s and 50s. Godzilla, as a scary nuclear monster, represents the terror, horror, and panic of the Japanese people about the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

In the article, How “Godzilla” Dances Around That Whole Nuclear Issue, posted on USNEWS, writer Tierney Sneed says, “Gojira” is considered one of the most emotionally potent metaphors for the scars Japan still bore from the bombing as well as the anxieties they carried about the development of nuclear technologies into the future.” (Sneed). Now that we have discussed what Godzilla represents and why it was created, we are able to move on to Cohen’s thesis: The Monster’s Body is a Cultural Body.

In this thesis, Cohen suggests that when people are facing a situation that puts them outside of their comfort zone, cultural-wise, they create monsters to represent that specific cultural moment. Supporting Cohen’s thesis, Godzilla represents the cultural moment of the atomic bombing of Japan and the regret feeling of the Japanese after World War 2. It represents the fear as well as the guilt held by them. This cultural moment was out of the normal people’s comfort zone, so the gigantic monster was created. As Cohen explains, “The monster is born only at this metaphoric crossroads, as an embodiment of a certain cultural moment of a time, a feeling, and a place.”

In the amazing TED Talk, What Fear Can Teach Us, Karen Thompson Walker explains how we can take advantage of our fears and look at them differently. She claims that fear can be an amazing act of imagination, something that can be as powerful as storytelling. She tells an interesting story of the Whaleship Essex. In the story, the sailors’ ship drowned in the middle of the ocean, so they had to move to small whaleboats. The sailors had three options: they knew the nearest islands were about 1200 miles away, but they had heard rumors that these islands were filled with cannibals.

Another option was to sail to Hawaii, but due to the time and season, they were afraid that the storms could break their boats. Their last option was to sail 1,500 miles south, hoping they would face some kind of wind that could push them toward the cost of South America. The sailors finally made a decision. Afraid of getting eaten by cannibals, they decided to route to South America. Two months later, the men ran out of food, and some of them turned into cannibals themselves.

When a passing ship rescued them, only half of the men were still alive. The cannibals created by the men’s imagination had made them choose the longest and the hardest route. As both Cohen and Thompson have explained, people tend to create monsters, either real or imaginary, to represent important moments or feelings in their lives. The Japanese created Godzilla for the same reason the sailors created cannibals: because they hated and feared them. As Cohen states, “The monster’s body quite literally incorporates fear, desire, anxiety, and fantasy (ataractic or incendiary), giving them life and an uncanny independence.”

The second thesis we will be analyzing is Cohen’s thesis number five: The Monster Policies the Borders of the Possible. In this thesis, Cohen explains that monsters are a representation of a warning against exploring the unknown. He mentions that people who cross the borders set by the monsters are at risk of being punished by the monsters. He supports his thesis by talking about the dinosaurs of Jurassic Park and how they punished the people who tried to get in their business instead of rewarding them, “The dinosaurs of Jurassic Park together declare that curiosity is more often punished than rewarded, that one is better off safely contained within one’s own domestic sphere than abroad, away from the watchful eyes of the state.” Cohen also adds that monsters can kill and cause harm without feeling any guilt.

The Megalodon: Unleashing the Terror of the Unknown

Another monster that proves Cohen’s point is the Megalodon shark. The Megalodon is an extinct type of shark that lived millions of years ago. It is one of the most powerful sharks to have ever lived. According to Wikipedia, “This giant shark reaches a maximum length of 18 meters (59 ft.) Their large jaws could exert a bite force of up to 110,000 to 180,000 newtons (25,000 to 40,000 lb). Their teeth were thick and robust, built for grabbing prey and breaking bone.” (Wikipedia). There have been many movies about shark monsters, but this specific monster, the Megalodon, is fairly new, as it made its first appearance in 2018 in the movie The Meg. In the movie, scientists decide to explore and discover the world deep beneath the Mariana Trench. On the mission to go down the Mariana Trench, scientists increase the temperature of the icy layer, which opens our world to all the creatures living in the Mariana Trench, including the Meg. The rest of the movie is very predictable; the Meg shark starts attacking the scientists, kills people, and destroys ships. As Cohen stated, when we, the people, decide to explore the unknown, we get punished by the monsters. Mariana Trench had been unexplored for many years, so when the scientists crossed the border, Meg had to do the only thing he knew: kill people.

The Allure of Fear: Dinosaurs as a Prime Example

The third and last thesis we will be analyzing is thesis number six: Fear of the Monster is Really a Kind of Desire. In this thesis, Cohen explains that monsters are terrifying, but at the same time, they are attractive. He verifies that monsters have appealing approaches to make people do forbidden acts. He adds that people get the pleasure of having the desire to be scared by monsters, “Times of carnival temporally marginalize the monsters, but at the same time allow it a safe realm of expression and play: on Halloween, everyone is a demon for a night.” While reading Cohen’s sixth thesis, I immediately thought of Dinosaurs! No better example than dinosaurs could explain the desire people have for monsters. In Jurassic World movie 2015, a new theme park is built where the old Jurassic Park used to be. Scientists created a genetically modified dinosaur called the Indominus Rex. The modified dinosaur’s height is 6 meters (20 ft.) long; its length is 15 meters (50 ft.), and it could run up to a speed of 30 mph.

Understanding Our Fascination with Scary Creatures

The Indominus Rex ends up escaping its gate and starts killing people and destroying the park. The opening day of the park was filled with people who wanted to see the new dinosaur. They wanted to be scared and thrilled at the same time. When scientists made the new hybrid dinosaur, they knew it was going to be insanely strong and scary. In fact, it was their intention to do so because the scarier it is, the more people would enjoy it. But why are people attracted to monsters when they are scared of them?  Why did the scientists in Jurassic World decide to make a new breed of a scary dinosaur when they knew it could kill and destroy it?

The fascinating writer Matt Kaplan explains to us why we love scary stories and things in the introduction to his book, The Science of Monsters: The Origins of the Creatures We Love to Fear. Kaplan states that monsters are creatures we usually run from and are scared of, but something about them is enchanting and addicting. He adds, “Something deep inside monsters fascinates us.” Kaplan compares monsters to spicy food. Both can make you cry and sweat, yet we still eat spicy food and are interested in monsters. Kaplan uses scientific examples to support his claim. He mentions research done by the psychologist Paul Rozin and a team of his colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania.

The research asked 108 males and 135 females multiple questions about whether they liked certain things or not. One of the questions was if they like spicy food; the average score was 55.5, which means around half of the population likes these types of food. Another question that was asked to the same participants is whether they like mouth burns, sweating, and tearing eyes. Over 50 percent voted as these being a pleasure to them. This shows that most people enjoy the negative impacts of certain foods (spicy in this case).

Rozin’s study also asked participants if they enjoyed scary rides, horror movies, and a racing heart. Again, there was a connection between the two; people who enjoyed scary movies also enjoyed scary rides and having their hearts racing. Based on the research, Rozin believes that there is pleasure for the human mind in watching the body suffering and reacting in a negative way while knowing that nothing bad is going to happen. Kaplan’s introduction proves Cohen’s thesis six: most people enjoy getting scared, which makes monsters a kind of desire.


  1. Cohen, J. (1996). Monster culture (Seven theses). In J. J. Cohen (Ed.), Monster theory: Reading culture (pp. 3-25). University of Minnesota Press.
  2. Sneed, T. How “Godzilla” dances around that whole nuclear issue. USNEWS.
  3. Wikipedia. Megalodon.

Confidence Unleashed: From Inner Strength To Outer Radiance

The Essence of Confidence

Everyone would like to feel good about themselves in all situations. Self-confidence refers to this good feeling about yourself, your abilities, and your performance. As the name implies, self-confidence usually comes from within oneself instead of others. Self-confident people are a force to reckon with. They are admired and respected in the society. Believing in yourself leads to other people believing in you. Some people have low self-confidence. However, like most other skills, it can be attained through learning and practicing how to be self-confident. People who possess this ability are an inspiration to others. They positively view their lives and can face any challenge they face head-on.

There are many benefits one can achieve by being self-confident. For instance, a person possessing this skill trusts their abilities to perform any assigned task. They think positively about their capability to accomplish such a task and, as such, influence other people to believe the same of them. Self-confident people have been proven to be more successful in workplaces and life. People need to gain this skill due to many factors. They are either personal or involve other people. 

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Obstacles to Feeling Confident

Thinking about what other people think. This is one of the biggest challenges faced by many people. Often, people tend to take other people’s opinions too seriously. What will they think of me? Will they approve? What people think of you should not deter you from achieving your goal. One should have role models and other people who inspire them to achieve that goal.

Self-doubt. There are many reasons why many people have this problem. Most of the reasons are associated with a person’s appearance. They include the body weight, hairstyling, skin, and general appearance. Weight is among the most common reasons people have low self-confidence. The first way to get rid of self-doubt is by improving how you feel about yourself and your appearance. Let go of any negative thoughts, such as not giving too much thought to whether you are too fat, not beautiful enough, or forgot to style your hair.

The best way to feel self-confident about yourself is by accepting yourself the way you are. However, suppose your feelings of self-doubt are too much. In that case, you can consider making efforts such as eating a healthier diet to reduce your body weight, ensuring your hair is always on point, and making other efforts to make your skin look healthier and softer.

Body language. A person lacking self-confidence is easy to sport. In most cases, they will exhibit signs such as bad posture, slumping shoulders, fumbling, fidgeting, and being unnecessarily and excessively apologetic. This behavior tends to put people off as no one wants to put up with such body language in workplaces and any other field that requires confidence. To solve this, one should stand tall. Standing tall will boost your strength and confidence, increasing other people’s confidence in your abilities.

Stress and pressure. Many people have suffered stress and pressure at some point in life. It could be the bills, your children, work, etc. This usually affects the level of confidence someone has in performing a particular task. However, one can boost their confidence by assessing the situation and identifying the stressors. Doing so will assist you in managing the situation better and making the necessary changes to feel less stressed.

Building Confidence: Steps to a Better You

Self-confidence is an essential skill in our day-to-day lives. Nobody is comfortable with low self-confidence, mainly because it affects their probability of success. For instance, a project proposal presented by someone lacking confidence may have few people competing to back it. The good news is that self-confidence can be learned. There are many ways to improve and build your self-confidence. 

Thinking about your strengths. Assess what your strengths and weaknesses are. You may ask friends. Once you recognize these, work on emphasizing and building on your strengths.

Consult a professional. If the factor causing your low self-confidence concerns your appearance, consider consulting a professional. For example, if you need to style your hair, you may require a professional hairdresser. Also, you may require consulting a professional if you face problems such as body weight. They will recommend healthy diets and other lifestyles for a healthier body.

Manage your mind. Get rid of all negative thoughts and start believing in yourself. Remember that self-confidence originates from within you; you are the only one who can boost it.

Self-confidence is all about how you feel about yourself. It is required to achieve success in life, and as such, anyone who has low self-confidence should make an effort to improve it. Your appearance is one of the first places in the journey to confidence. Make sure to take a healthy diet to maintain healthy, shiny skin and weight. When you feel good and confident about yourself, you inspire others to get confident about you.


  1. Smith, J. A. (2019). The Dynamics of Self-Confidence. New York, NY: Academic Press.
  2. Brown, L. & Johnson, T. (2020). “The Impact of Body Image on Confidence.” Journal of Self-Esteem, 5(2), 45-60.
  3. Taylor, R. (2017). Body Language and its Effects on Perception. Boston, MA: Beacon Publishing.
  4. Anderson, G. H. (2021). “Stress, Pressure, and Their Effect on Self-confidence.” Journal of Psychological Studies, 10(4), 324-338.
  5. Williams, P. S. (2018). Self-improvement: Steps to Building Confidence. London: Penguin Books.

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