May not be normal

May is introduced to the audience as someone who was ostracized by society from a young age. May is affected by a defect called the ‘lazy eye’. She is shunned by her peers and to compensate, her doll becomes her ‘friend’. When may grows up, she becomes enamored with Adam, particularly his hands. May pursues Adam and they begin an affair. Adam eventually breaks it off after being weirded out when May bites his lip. Polly, a co-worker, flirts and begins an affair with May. After she discovers that Adam has cut her off May discovers that Polly also has an affair with another girl. She meets another boy, Blank, whom she had a fascination with his tattoo. After discovering May’s cat’s corpse in the freezer, he rejects her friendship. An enraged May stabs Blank in the face. May then ‘harvests’ body parts she finds beautiful from the people around her such as Polly’s neck and Adam’s hands. She creates a doll out of their body parts. May realizes that her doll does not have eyes and carves out her own to complete her creation. As she dies beside her creation, it comes to life and caresses her face with Adam’s hands.

Some personal thoughts I had on the film. As weird as the film and May was I couldn’t help but empathize with May’s character. She was ostracized at such a young age because of something that she could control. Kids could be cruel and May has experienced being ‘othered’ from a very young age. Even when she thought she met weird friends who could accept her brand of weirdness she was left behind over and over. There was an othering in the film. Even as the characters, such as Adam said, “I like weird.” This already others them from what society dictates as ‘normal’. However, in the film it seems as though even ‘weird’ has its own normal. I found the character of Adam a little hypocritical because he kept saying that he was weird and that he liked weird but when May’s weirdness exceeded his normal range of weird, like when May bites his lip, he leaves her. Blank also commits this ‘othering’ with May. Blank had a unique taste in fashion and he attempts to befriend May in the beginning before he finds out how deep her ‘weirdness’ ran. There was an othering from what was already considered as ‘other’.

Benshoff tackles the homosexual and the monster in horror film. In earlier periods, even until now, homosexuality is seen as a threat. This is because it goes against the ‘normal’. The patriarchal, heteronormative society that most people are used to. There is a very strong ‘othering’ in society for anything that does not fit in the norm. This is particularly evident in the queer community. Many terrible issues are attributed to homosexuals such as rape, violence, and the proliferation of AIDs, as if the straight community has not committed these offenses as well.

The homosexual has been demonized multiple times in films. Several instances of this has been shown in the film May. The first is that of the character of Polly. Polly has been since seen flirting with May from the beginning of the film and even when May and Adam were together. After Adam leaves May, it is seen that Polly takes advantage of May’s distraught state. There is a ‘block’ in the heterosexual romance between Adam and May. This is a defiance of the ‘normal’, straight relationships. Aside from this Polly actively engages in casual sex, which is something that is looked down upon in monogamous societies. Casual sex between homosexuals was especially implicated when the AIDs epidemic began. Aside from this, the character of Polly took a temporary antagonistic/monstrous characteristic when she rejects May after getting together with her for another. This seems more cruel than other rejections because Polly has been after May even from the beginning but when another girl came along it seemed as though Polly had forgotten about her.

The character of Polly in itself is an oddity. This is because there is an image of the stereotypical ‘butch’ lesbian. The butch plays the ‘male’ role in a lesbian relationship. However, in the case of May, Polly and Ambrosia, none of them are ‘butch’ and this dissuades from the heteronormative, binary relationships that are common.

I think it was an interesting twist in the film wherein May created Amy from the body parts of people she was fascinated with but ended up rejecting her. Amy became a reflection or representation of what May, what she wanted and what she couldn’t have for herself.

The character of May appears to be terrifying because she does not seem to fall into what society tends to dictate as ‘normal’. However, because of her experiences it is hard to simply classify her as a monster as it was society that shaped her to eventually become monstrous.

Harry M. Benshoff, “The Monster and the Homosexual.” Horror, The Film Reader (Routledge, 2002).
Paul O’Flinn, “Production and Reproduction: The Case of Frankenstein.” Horror, The Film Reader (Routledge, 2002).
Robin Wood, “The American Nightmare: Horror in the 70s.” Horror, The Film Reader (Routledge, 2002).

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