Note: This is one part in a series of articles about movies and shows to watch before voting, but not to tell you who to vote for. Please, make your own informed choice.
Monster High often gives brilliant commentary on life in the modern world, but none remains more potent than their allegorical take on race baiting titled "Fright On!". Presented as a story about how Vampires and Werewolves learn to peacefully coexist, it also illustrates how people from different backgrounds can and will collaborate to keep the divides between people as wide as ever. It's multifaceted plot is very clever in delivering this message.
The all-vampire school Belfry Prep and the all-werewolf school Crescent Moon High are brought together to foster better relations, as part of the Monster High cultural exchange program. Things get off to a bumpy start as the students bring baggage and old stereotypes about each other with them. The lifestyles of MH's own students are also looked upon with suspicion. We see how the hierarchies of the two groups instantly set to work at asserting their dominance, drawing boundaries, and pushing their point of view within the new territories.
Frankie Stein, the lead character of the cast believes that there is still hope. After all, her werewolf and vampire friends get along. However, both Draculaura and Clawdeen tell her that she couldn't possibly know what she's talking about because she's not one of "their kind" and therefore being ignorant. Frankie is persistent and against all odds, the friends come up with a plan that gets everyone to let go of their pride, let down their guard, and put aside their differences.
Enter Administrator Van Hellscream, the human head of Monster/Human relations, along with his monster companion Crabgrass. Despite their authoritarian declarations of being their to ensure the success of the integration program, they instantly set to work at opening old ancestral wounds.
Here are a few things that happen next.
The Corruption Of Howleen Wolf
Clawdeen's impulsive younger sister Howleen is brought in by Hellscream after an indecent where she used a fan to blow garlic dust at vampires in the school hallway. She states that she is not going to apologize because a group of the more snobby vampires told her she was in the "Vampires Only" restroom.
Instead of punishing Howleen he commends her for taking a stand and encourages her to become the leader of a new "Were-Pride" club that he has formed.
"It's about taking pride in who you are and learning your history."
He neglects to tell her that he has also sparked a counter "Vampowerment" movement, but it is in his best interest to keep her ignorant of that. The offer appeals to Howleen and when we next see her she is handing out Were-Pride fliers and picking a fight with Clawdeen's best friend Draculara. When Clawdeen confronts her sister on her behavior, Howleen says to her,
"You have to open your eyes. The pack is strength."
This shows just how well Howleen has been indoctrinated by Van Hellscream. By giving credence to her false sense of "awakened" identity, he has easily set her on the path of sewing more animosity.
Driving A Stake Between Clawd And Draculara
Draculaura begins to feel insecure when her boyfriend Clawd is reunited with his boyhood pack mate Romulus.
Romulus in turn doesn't quite approve of Clawd's infatuation with a vampire, and begins to "remind" him of all the injustices that vampires have committed against werewolves in centuries past. Soon, the couple begins to fight about the way Clawd is spending all of his time with Romulus.
"He said you would say that."
Clawd tells Draculara.
"He said it was only a matter of time before your true vampire nature came out."
It's a powerful moment that shows how two innocent kids who never had any reason to think ill of each other are very quickly driven apart by the chips on other people's shoulders. They're told they should carry them too, based of their common heritage.
Van Hellscream And Crabgrass' Common Goal
If Van Hellscream actually hates monsters and Crabgrass hates Normies, then why do the two of them work so well together? The answer is, like most of us, they don't actually care about any of that. It's all about power.
When you are first introduced to Monster High you will observe that within its walls, the diverse arraignment of students already coexist quite happily together.
They have formed friendships based on character rather than group affiliation and they are free to explore their interests as individuals. Hellscream and Crabgrass have no authority there because there is no perceived need for them.
To destroy what has been built and take power, a case must be made for greater authority. Civil unrest will do nicely. In order to achieve this, people have to be convinced that their individuality is second to the group and that it is necessary to draw dividing lines between them. From within these groups they find those who would most enjoy a position of prestige among them (Howleen the insecure and spiteful underdog, Romulus the sanctimonious hotshot, the snobbish vampire "Mean Girls") build up their sense of righteousness, and get them to campaign against each other.
They will also be in charge of making sure that anyone who questions the motives or values of the group will be singled out and dealt with by its own members. Soon enough, everyone is on edge around anyone else "different" than they are. They're exhausted from wondering what recriminations they'll have to endure next. Then they'll stop bothering to care and stick to "their own kind" just to get some peace. However, they'll also be paranoid around each other because speaking one's mind could also make them a target. Thus, tensions will always remain high.
Van Hellscream and Crabgrass benefit the most from this, enjoying a position of supreme power over the school, with all the perks that come with it. Kids like Howleen also enjoy a sense of importance where they would otherwise have none, but still have to answer to the new masters of the school. In essence, even though she tells herself that she is doing the right thing, she has still sold out her fellow classmates. Sure, she gets to be seen as a "community leader," but the cost is helping to usurp her fellow students' way of life in favor of a new world order within Monster High. She has become a lackey to dictators, all the while seeing herself as a liberator, but never realizing it.
And what of Frankie Stein and friends? By not joining in on the "group think" they have all found themselves singled out. Will they be able to expose the plot and save their school from self segregating itself or will pride blind the students to their own self imposed oppression?
Editor's Note. This isn't the only show where we can learn about important and sometimes dark themes. Just check out the video below to learn what makes The Little Mermaid such a dark story: