Mac Godinez


The final decade of the 20th century transformed the folk figure of Bloody Mary into a recognizable character on television screens through media like the 1992 film Candyman and the X-Files episode “Syzygy.” This paper explores the extent to which the Bloody Mary character provided a narrative tool to discuss U.S. state violence and brutality. The first section summarizes early academic writing on Bloody Mary to understand how this legend took hold in the United States. The second section traces the contours of the Bloody Mary figure to understand her narrative utility, as well as consider the history and anxieties around children’s divination games in the age of Satanic Panic. The third section looks at the dual nature of 1990s state violence through an increase in militarized police forces alongside disinvestment in social support systems. In the conclusion, this paper analyzes Candyman alongside “Syzygy” to understand how the two approach a fear of vengeance from different ideological attachments to police authority. Throughout the course of this paper, these sections demonstrate how mainstream anxieties about police violence and potentially violent retribution are presented through the familiar and fantastical folk figure of Bloody Mary.

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