Saturday, April 1, 2017

Scary Teeth

I’ve written before about how a character’s teeth can often inform a reader/viewer about the character’s personality; is this character on the side of Good or Evil? A character that has a nice smile is often (but not always!) a good guy, and a character whose teeth are stained, rotting, very crooked or missing is often a bad guy. I know that it’s not just me that notices these traits in fictitious people, and I also don’t think it’s a coincidence. If an author/creator wants to craft someone with malicious intent, someone who does not have anything good inside them like consideration or morals or a conscience, then it’s only natural that something in the character’s appearance would indicate the decay within. And the place we usually associate with the word “decay” is teeth.

With the 6th graders that I see once a week, I read to them from Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories books, and I match up the stories with episodes of Are You Afraid of the Dark? Last week we were watching an episode and one of the students specifically commented on the villain’s teeth, and I asked why she thinks that the bad guys always seem to have bad teeth. I don’t know if she completely understood the metaphor I was trying to communicate to her, but just the fact that she noticed and commented told me that the kids are observing the the tales and piecing together themes and ideas that are consistent in horror/folk tales.

Marie, the mysterious shopkeeper in "The Tale of the Vacant Lot" has yellowed teeth, and infected skin

Dr. Vink, a recurring character, also sports corn-on-the-cob colored teeth

Nosferatu the vampire in "The Tale of the Midnight Madness"

Yikes- I guess vampires don't get dental plans.

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