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March 20, 2007

Another use of the uncanny?

Freud, ''The Uncanny'' -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

"in the realm of fiction many things are not uncanny which would be so if they happened in real life" (404).

This is something that I thought about the whole time I read the section on literature and even something that came to mind prior to that part: do we only care about the uncanny reponse in the reader/audience (or in terms of real life the actual person having the uncanny experience) or can we apply Freud's theories on the origins of uncanny feelings to the actual characters in the works we read and watch (as is the case with Blade Runner)? Is that useful for the purposes of criticism? I certainly think so, but I am curious to what the rest of the class thinks.

I'm not really sure why Disney films came to mind - perhaps because Freud began talking about fairy tales, although I think I thought about them before I got to that point in the essay. Anyway, one thing I thought about what how uncanny situations are created in Disney films in order to triumph over evil or the bad guy. The strongest examples that came to mind (for the first time as I read page 400 about inanimate objects coming to life) were Toy Story and Beauty and the Beat. In both of these films the inanimate objects play a large role in defeating "the bad guys" simply because they are inanimate objects that come to life in the presence of the bad guys thus evoking uncanny feelings in them (at least we might assume so if we imagine ourselves in their position, but as the audience we know the inanimate objects are "good" so it does not evoke uncanny feelings in us).

In Toy Story, Andy's toys scare Sid, the toy mutilator kid that lives next door, at the end by coming to life and talking to him to tell him that he should "play nice." In Beauty and the Beast, the enchanted castle's servants that have been transformed into a variety of inanimate objects come alive when Gaston and the townsmen come to kill the Beast in order to defend the castle. I'm sure those townsmen were pretty freaked out when they were getting beat up and then dressed as drag queens by a talking, moving wardrobe and scalded by an animate tea pot and her teacup child. I'm sure uncanny is a good word for how they were feeling at the time. But, once again, the audience does not feel uncanny as a result - on the contrary they feel as sense of triumph along with the castle's inhabitants.

So the uncanny is still used in literature/films/the arts even when it is not used to give the audience those sorts of feelings, but is instead used as a device for the good characters to triumph over the evil ones.

Posted by LorinSchumacher at March 20, 2007 1:31 AM


I love your line about the teacup child and the drag queens, I'll be linking to your blog! I liked that you had the idea of Disney characters because it's a great example. Freud at first seems to say that it's not uncanny if it's not uncomfortable, but as you read on, you realize that things are only uncomfortable if they are not funny or you don't know how to defeat those bad guys :) I think also, it is more uncanny when it's an occurance in real life and as Freud said, when you start to believe it can really happen, then it's even more so.

Posted by: Erin at March 21, 2007 6:36 PM

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