It!

it golem jill

The film begins with firefighters trying to extinguish the burning warehouse of a London museum curator named Grove. He and his assistant inspect the rubble to discover that all that remains is a large stone golem. The Golem then kills Grove, providing the perfect opportunity for his assistant Pimm to take over his position on the museum board. Once the “authenticity” of the statue is made certain Pimm receives advice from a rabbi on how to awaken this golem. To the golem, he declares “I am your master.” Yet after the chaos that proceeds, Pimm decide he must burn the golem. The golem, however, cannot be destroyed and quite ironically, the golem breaks into the museum only to return to his pedestal. The golem then breaks Pimm out of a mental hospital before authorities agree to set off a nuclear explosive that would destroy everything within a one-mile radius only to see the golem survive and walk alone into the ocean.

1. How does the title function? “It” as an otherizing and dehumanizing pronoun is usually used to describe things rather than people. Moreover, what seems to be even more problematic is the absolute horror that results from the presumed thing, the golem, gaining humanity. People are much more comfortable with flat, empty shells of people, or ideas of people than they are with entire complex beings. Objectifying beings in such a way allows those in control to maintain their sense of security and power. Take for instance, the fact that Harriet Beecher Stowe’s “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” was originally titled The “Man That was a Thing.” Who is authorized to designate what is a thing and what is a being?

2. How may one interpret this tendency to gravitate towards things in Hollywood B movie horror flicks? Technology, modernity, consumerism, etc. all seem to have a commonality in that they are often surrounded around the idea of obtaining things, demanding things, and owning things. The golem statue does not have a voice of his own making him into a visual rather than a verbal horror. Essentially, the difference between a thing and a being (it doesn’t necessarily need be a human being, but this is a whole other matter that should be discussed further as well) is that things are thought to be mindless, without sentiment or agency of their own while beings are dynamic and complex, making the two rather irreconcilable. Things are meant to be tools used by beings. Therefore, to consider a being a thing or a thing a being not only makes no sense but also emplaces a frightening power dynamic that can function in a colonialist manner, capturing beings under the justification that they are things.

3. How may the Golem as represented in popular culture relate to the trope of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl? Both are removed from their historical context in such a way that they become shells for beings rather than beings themselves. Yet this becomes quite complicated when human are funneled into these tropes and the representation of identities condensed in such a manner that they become hollow inside, creating and perpetuating stereotypes. In It!, the statue of the golem gains authority by its superficial link to Judaism, yet it is only facts rather than sentiment or meaning that are exposed. Therefore the golem can be solely an object of horror perpetuating the ideas that Jewish folklore is not only something to fear but also to be used by others to serve purposes external to its own history.

4. What does it mean to call the golem authentic in this context? How does authenticity function as an apparatus of capture?

5. As the story goes, the golem is all that remains from the burnt warehouse of a museum curator. How can one see the museum in this film as an apparatus of capture? The way I see it is that the golem that exists to listen to Pimm is solely the captured golem closed off from any broader social or historical context. Therefore, the audience has the ability to interact with the golem in a manner that is completely detached from its background, creating a thing golem rather than a being golem just as the manic pixie dream girl trope creates an idea of a being rather than a true being. They both function to further fulfill the desire to oppress that which is not fully understood by returning to and reinforcing stereotypes.

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