More thoughts on werewolves …

December 9th, 2010

Part of the reason werewolves don’t get a lot of love, I suspect, is that they’re harder to work with in film or television. It’s hard to go full lupine. As this rather interesting article from the Onion’s AV Club points out, dogs are not good actors, and wolves are even worse. So producers usually go for a sort of wolf-ape hybrid thing with makeup and prosthetics, which never looks very good.

More than that, though, I think that lycanthropy is, oddly, a little too mundane to catch on as the next occult craze. Werewolves are neither superior to humans, like vampires, nor inferior, like zombies. They are simply different. They have a condition. They have time-management issues. Werewolves are probably really into Spoon Theory.

Somehow, I was reminded of all this when a friend of mine Tweeted, “One great benefit of being deaf is being able to shut out the cellphone blabbermouth behind me. I just take off my processors.”

I replied, “There’s a thin line between disability and superpower, isn’t there?”

And that’s kind of the story with werewolves. It’s a superpower sometimes, and a disability at other times. Being a blonde with symmetrical and childlike features may get you out of a traffic ticket, but will probably make it harder to be taken seriously in your career. Having Asperger’s syndrome makes figuring people out harder, but fixing their computers easier. Parents have the awesome power to create life – and then become hostages to fate forever after.

Zombies are all the other drivers in a rush-hour gridlock. Zombies are the people who write comments in response to YouTube videos. Zombies are the people you see on television at those rallies, the ones you disagree with.

Vampires are your insurance company, raising your rates for an accident for which you weren’t at fault. Vampires are your late-night drunk-dialing ex. Vampires are hidden fees, the person behind you who darts into the newly opened checkout lane, that guy at the bar who refuses to believe that you really do want to drink a martini and read The Economist in peace.

Werewolves are afraid of embarrassing themselves in company. Werewolves wake up thinking, “I don’t believe I did that.” Werewolves can be great in emergencies, but daily life poses greater challenges to them. Werewolves wake up every day not knowing if they have a superpower, or a disability.

Werewolves are us.

3 Responses to “More thoughts on werewolves …”

  1. Alice on December 9, 2010 7:20 pm

    ” … that guy at the bar who refuses to believe that you really do want to drink a martini and read The Economist in peace.”

    Been there, done that, got the T-shirt. Except in my case, it’s Scientific American.

  2. Carolyn on December 10, 2010 12:57 am

    Oh, man. You nailed it, especially those last three paragraphs.

  3. Shulamuth on December 10, 2010 3:29 pm

    I see werewolves and other weres as being both much more present and much more positively portrayed than you do, Robin, and your first para suddenly told me why — I’m not really a very big or consistent consumer of tv/movies/video/other visual media, so I only catch a small percentage of what’s out there.

    On the other hand I am a huge reader. So I mostly see shapeshifters in a context where the special effects are cheap and easy here in my mind, and where the interior lives of characters is easier to portray. In that environment, weres are more interesting exactly because they are “us”.

    For a really good portrayal of weres as pure id, and some killer special effects as well, I recommend the movie The Company of Wolves — one of the few visual transformations I ever was willing to really buy into.

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