My Dearest Auteur,
For as long as I’ve remembered my nightmares, you’ve thrilled me. Whether it’s re-enactments of high school bullying or public wardrobe malfunctions, you’ve kept me on the edge of my bed. But compared to 2020’s real-life plague, threat of fascist coup, and so on, your work has suffered from a lack of terrifying imagination.
Let’s start with the nightmare on Monday where—whaddaya know!—I forget to memorize my lines for The Big Show. As per always, I’m pushed on stage in front of a judging crowd and I panic that I’ll be exposed as an imposter.
Look, just because you threw me into Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat doesn’t mean you’re doing something new. I’m over this Andrew Lloyd Webber-meets-David Lynch shtick. At the least, you could have swapped the whimsical, technicolor dreamcoat for a whimsical, technicolor Covid mask that gets Joseph called a “soy boy beta cuck” by his MAGA-loving brothers.
Maybe next time, I’m on The Great British Bake Off, but I measure my Pate á Choux in ounces instead of grams. Maybe I brought my emotional support pug to a dogfight. Maybe I’m Kayleigh McEnany and I’ve misplaced my propaganda binder and I blurt out the truth.
I don’t know. I’m not the one spinning around in a Director’s chair calling the shots on my nightmares. In fact, I am practically paralyzed, both because I am sleeping and because I. am. bored!
During last night’s so-called fright fest, I’m buck-naked at my own wedding, and, quelle surprise, you zoom into punishing close-ups of my hips and ass. You know, just another version of the typical gross-out fare you’ve served since my body decided to loudly assert itself at puberty. Frankly, I’m not sure if I should be more embarrassed for you or for me.
To be fair, weddings are particularly frightening at the moment, what with the impossibility of maintaining a six-foot distance between me and every mouth-breathing cousin taking advantage of the open bar. But asking your audience to read more nuance into your worn-out rag of terror is expecting too much of a person who is actually asleep.
Couldn’t you come up with new ritual humiliations for a self-possessed woman like myself? Like, say, I show up to my Feminist Book Club without having read the book. Or I rapidly mutate into a Real Housewife of Paris (,Texas). Or I stumble into a haunted house stacked with big-eyed dolls that all accuse me of slut-shaming.
We both know you’re sticking to nightmares for now—like all good directors, you’re at your most compelling when you’re amplifying the spirit of the times. But my God, I’m desperate for the sort of innovative, pathos-driven horror that makes me really grind my teeth into my dentist-prescribed night guard.
Give me spiral staircases that seem to lead to nowhere but nowhere is my dead grandparents whispering “You never call!” Hit me with a backlit, lost child ghost in a RENT t-shirt asking me where I put my performance aspirations. Dazzle me with a river of my period blood flooding through my middle school’s double doors and all I have on me is the diaper-like maxi pad the school nurse gave me that audibly squishes when I walk!
For the love of this nightmare year, impress me.
Yours at night,