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Galaxy Brains

Michael Myers is a stand-in for toxic something

This week’s Galaxy Brains considers the true meaning of the Shape.

Michael Myers in Halloween 2018 Universal Pictures

For decades, the filmmakers who took on the stewardship of the Halloween franchise — from Dwight H. Little who directed Halloween 4 to Rob Zombie and his controversial origin-story duology — have grappled with the question of who is Michael Myers and what does he represent? Franchise creators John Carpenter and Debra Hill never put any sort of answer out into the world, which allows directors, writers, and fans to ponder the nature of this unstoppable evil known as The Shape.

But, in the latest film in Blumhouse’s Halloween sequel trilogy, director David Gordon Green and co-writer Danny McBride make a tantalizing connection between The Shape and the collective trauma that seems to be a part of so much of everyday life in America today. Halloween Kills invites the audience to speculate about whether or not Michael Myers is supernatural and what he symbolizes. Paranoia? Prejudice? Toxic masculinity? It’s all up for debate in the new movie.

On this week’s Galaxy Brains, Jonah Ray and I are joined by actor, comedian, and Last Podcast on the Left co-host Henry Zebrowski to chat about what makes Michael Myers so scary decades later.

As always, this conversation has been edited to sound less weird.

Dave: Let’s talk about Michael Myers for a second: Do you think that he is a stand in for toxic masculinity?

Henry: You know, they call him The Shape for a reason, right? I think that Michael Myers of the three main classic ’80s monsters — Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger, Michael Myers — Michael Myers is the most like general one. And they call him The Shape for that reason. And I think you could put a lot on him. I think that there’s a lot that you can apply to him if you just decide to, like, go through the movies and generate an argument about him.

Dave: When you brought up the idea of his name being The Shape, I thought you were gonna go into something about Spanx. How Spanx are forcing women to dress differently.

Henry: That is a very fun idea. But if he did have, like, a big, juicy butt, I would agree with you.

Jonah: Just like just the words Haddonfield on his ass, just going around.

Dave: His jumpsuit doesn’t really show off the goods, if you know what I mean.

Henry: It’s the shoulders and he’s tall. He’s tall. The Shape is very tall, which I actually think makes him very attractive to a lot of people.

Dave: Listen, we all love our short kings on Galaxy Brains. Jonah and I are both very tall people, but we’re here to support. We’re giving back to the community.

Henry: A hurricane punch. That’s what I do to fight back against Michael Myers. That’s what I find as a short man.

Jonah: As a tall man, I’ve learned to apologize when anyone bumps into me.

Henry: You know, Ben Cassel, my co-host, he’s six-foot-seven. He talks about it all the time about how, like, I have the liberty to be furious in public. But he can’t. I mean, because he’s too big, so he can’t be. He can never raise his voice, but I can. I’m always yelling.

Dave: You know who I think is probably a fairly tall man? John Carpenter. And John Carpenter, of course, created Halloween with his partner, Debra Hill, but he’s also made other movies about tough guys throughout his career. Escape from New York, The Thing, They Live, Assault on Precinct 13. And you know, the list goes on. Ghosts of Mars, which we’re going to be talking about on the Blank Check podcast very soon.

Henry: Ghost of Mars is underappreciated.

Dave: But he also directed movies that I think are kind of tweaking the idea of the tough guy like Big Trouble in Little China.

Jonah: Yeah, it’s like a parody of like tough guy action heroes.

Dave: Total parody. Memoirs of an Invisible Man, which is a movie people forget John Carpenter directed that starred Chevy Chase.

Henry: I like that movie. We were obsessed with that movie as kids.

Dave: I think it’s super underrated. Yeah, it’s maybe Chevy’s best performance in a movie. And then he also did Starman, which is a very romantic, sweet movie. So my question is, is John Carpenter the most woke director when it comes to straight white men making movies about straight white men?

Henry: I think that he is an eclectic director, and I think that he comes at things from a lot of different angles. I think he’s not afraid to question himself, which I guess you could consider woke. He’s very self-conscious about what he is putting into the world, but his stuff also has many themes. I think that’s also what’s beautiful about horror in general. Like sci-fi. When sci-fi and horror are at its best, they really can go into a social issue in a way that is kind of user friendly for all of us people that mostly just like screaming people or octopus monsters. I am not a drama person or even a comedy person anymore. I basically watch genre movies all day long. So it helps me learn when they throw it in. It’s like when you put cheese on vegetables. Then, I’ll consume it.

Jonah: It’s the spoonful of sugar idea of, you’re going to come in because there are some kills, but you might learn something along the way.

Henry: You may learn something, you might get something. You see, I’ve always viewed Michael Myers as sort of about the fear of the Christian retribution of having pre-marital sex and the idea that he is this roving punishment system for anybody who dares think they could ever live a life that includes joy, even in a place like Haddonfield, right? Like a small little town where you are supposed to become a baby factory as soon as humanly possible. And so like the idea that like anybody who is sort of expressing themselves, well, you get chased down by life, it comes and it kills you. And then also just the fucking never ending, never ceasing wall of death that will come for all of us.

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