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Reading: Animating the Unnameable: The Depiction of Cthulhu in Animated Shows

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Animating the Unnameable: The Depiction of Cthulhu in Animated Shows

Author:

Valentino Paccosi

Abstract

The beginning of the twenty-first century has witnessed the rise in popularity of Cthulhu, the most well-known among H. P. Lovecraft’s creations. However, it seems that Cthulhu is undergoing a process of naturalization that is drastically reducing his “threat” level. His presence on items of merchandizing and in animated television shows appears to corroborate the theories of Fred Botting explaining how monsters are destined to be assimilated by the process of normalization. Building on Jeffrey Jerome Cohen’s theory that the monster “always escapes,” this article demonstrates that Cthulhu partially escapes normalization. While Botting sees the re-readings of monsters as proof of their normalization, for Cohen this demonstrates how the monster maintains its otherness even in different contexts. With a close analysis of selected episodes from the animated television shows The Real Ghostbusters (1986-1991), Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated (2010-2013), and South Park (1997-present), I demonstrate how the apparent normalization of Cthulhu is a tool used by interpretive communities to produce a versatile and ready-to-use version of the monster. This specific version of Cthulhu has the function of making this unnameable monster easier to understand for the viewers and to use for the shows’ creators, without completely erasing the more complex aspects of Cthulhu’s monstrousness.

How to Cite: Paccosi, V., 2021. Animating the Unnameable: The Depiction of Cthulhu in Animated Shows. Studies in Gothic Fiction, 7, pp.51–60.
Published on 15 Nov 2021.
Peer Reviewed

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