Carrie has earned popular status as a horror novel, but what makes it timeless? It was remade as a film yet again last fall. Earlier this year Carrie: The Musical reopened in Los Angeles. Certainly it will remain as the place where King began, but a book is a product of its time. As we near the book’s 40th anniversary on April 5th, we must ask–why is Carrie still relevant?
Evil continues to be a layered concept in our post-modern world. As American distrust increases, we see ourselves surrounded by people of mixed motivations. There are lots of villains in Carrie. In fact, it’s difficult to name someone in Carrie who isn’t villainous in one way or another. The cast consists abusers, manipulators, and murderers of all stripes. Except for maybe Tommy. That guy gets screwed over pretty hard.
In 2013, 30% of all students were involved in bullying either as the victim or the bully. Arguably, the other 70% are bystanders. Over half of teens have been bullied online. Sadly, Carrie’s problems are the same problems faced by many teens today.
Women continue to struggle for equitable work, pay, portrayal, and treatment in the U.S. and beyond. In Danse Macabre, King discusses Carrie as a feminist text, in which Carrie’s powers (aligned with her femininity) are oppressed by society. Furthermore, the women at school use their social powers behind the scenes to bring Carrie down. Many of the male characters–namely Billy Nolan and Carrie’s absent father–are afraid of powerful women, sometimes to the extent of perpetrating violence.
4. Special Powers
The recent popularity of superhero movies perpetuates our national fascination with the omnipotent. Granted, Carrie is not a typical superhero, but she deals vigilante justice in her own way.
5. Mixed Genre
I saw the 1976 movie long before reading the book, so I was surprised to find that it is a mixed-genre book, which is oh-so-cool right now. The novel splices the story with later interviews, news articles, and textbook examinations of the “Carrie White Incident.” Not only does it read like horror, but it reads like science fiction and nonfiction too.
6. The Status Quo
When Carrie tries to do what the other teenagers do, she is promptly punished by the status quo. In a world where the widening economic gap is a point of major contention, we can consider how accessible the American Dream really is.
In honor of its anniversary, read (or reread Carrie). Let me know what you think!