Gentrification is Horror

            It turns out it is hard to have a blog that requires me to be independently motivated while also dealing with chronic depression and hustling to pay bills without a regular job during a pandemic. So… another week without the kind of in-depth post I was hoping to have.

            What I would like to do instead is just tell you to watch a great movie. Lately I have been on a vampire kick with a friend (we watch movies at the same time while video chatting), everything from A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (moody Iranian black and white revenge fantasy) to Lost Boys (campy 80s romp). If vampires, then yes. So far we have also watched What We Do In the Shadows, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Let The Right One In (the original Swedish version), Interview with a Vampire (the gayness of it! Also though the sexualization of a girl, not ok)… and, the favorite by far, Vampires vs the Bronx.

            In much of horror social commentary is understated. Exploring that subtext is what interested me in starting this blog. What might a vampire represent? Ableism, fear of a shadow self, fear of sexuality and pleasure.

            In Vampires vs The Bronx, there is no subtext. Vampires are rich, white gentrifiers intent on taking over the Bronx for themselves. Who stands in their way? Plucky Black and Brown teenagers of course, and their devotion to both their community and vampire slaying as depicted in Blade (the next on my vampire movie list).

            I’m not going to go much into the details of this movie because it doesn’t require pulling apart – it is set right in front of you to enjoy. I do want to bring up, lest you think this is all in fun, the way gentrification truly is blood-sucking: real estate vampires clamp their teeth into a “struggling” or “underdeveloped” area and suck out everything of value, leaving it white, bland, and full of stores that the original community members can’t afford or sometimes even fathom needing (the movie has an artisanal butter store – when I lived in Portland, OR, there was an artisanal salt store in a formerly Black neighborhood). The movie nods to both the structural elements of gentrification (the vampire real estate company with a logo that is a clear homage to Vlad the Impaler) as well as its individual foot soldiers: a white woman runs into the main teenage characters and insists she won’t call the police! In real life, of course, we know what white women do. And let’s never forget the original gentrification that created the United States – when white settler colonialists came over to steal land and resources from the land’s original community, using as a tool of state-building the kidnapping and enslavement of Black people – when they couldn’t kill all of them, displacement to a reservation and disenfranchisement from the new state finished the job.

            Anyway, watch this movie. It’s fun, it’s silly, the evil in the movie is actually something evil so you don’t have to feel conflicted watching it. There is also a bodega cat (kicked out for violating codes, another tool of gentrification). Also, drop your vampire movie recommendations!

            For a great resource and case study on gentrification, check out How To Kill a City: Gentrification, Inequality, and The Fight for The Nieghborhood by P.E. Moscowitz.

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