Internet turns monstrous after “Hotel Transylvania 4” reveal

by Darby O'Neill, Art Director


Among the bizarre history of internet hysteria, controversy spurring from those thirsting over a talking pair of glasses has got to be a new one. Keeping this introduction as context-free as possible in the spirit of jarring confusion, here’s the story of how the reveal of an invisible, fictional character took an army of teens from head over heels… to heading for the hills. 

On Sept. 28, 2012, Sony Pictures, (the studio responsible for “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs,” “Surf’s Up,” and most recently “The Mitchells vs. the Machines”) released one of their biggest hits: “Hotel Transylvania.” In the film, the infamous Count Dracula opens a hotel getaway for monsters living in fear of humans, and tries to protect his only daughter Mavis after a human unknowingly stumbles onto hotel grounds and catches Mavis’ attention. 

Though physically struggling to write due to the paralysis of discovering how long ago this movie came out, I should praise this film for what it is. With a jam-packed cast, “Hotel Transylvania” filled many of our childhoods with a story of romance, humor, acceptance, and the turmoils of watching those you love grow up. 

When the studio decided to release a sequel surrounding Mavis and Johnny’s son in 2015, I thought to myself: ‘this is probably unnecessary.’ When the third installment released in 2018, I thought: ‘this is definitely unnecessary.’ So when I unknowingly pulled out my phone last month to see talk of a trailer for “Hotel Transylvania 4”, I was running out of adjectives to describe my disappointment towards the capitalist cash-grab this franchise had become. If “Happy Days” jumped the shark, this monster movie had just catapulted itself over Cthulhu.

From what I can gather, “Hotel Transylvania 4: Transformania” centers around a ray gun with the ability to turn monsters into humans and vice-versa. And while the trailer doesn’t give us much more of a plot, I can’t imagine the film will give us any either. Then again, I am a 17-year-old taking the time to write this article; 30 minutes worth of fart-joke padding is probably exactly what kids these days need to enrich their growing minds. Who am I to say?

Getting back on track- the trailer showcases a few of Dracula’s closest monster friends being turned into humans, including Wayne the werewolf, Murray the mummy, and the star of our show: Griffin the invisible man.  His transformation, revealing a plump, balding gentleman quickly led to an explosion of fury all across the internet. A “silent majority” popped out of nowhere, advocating for their previously-existing attraction to Griffin, (who, need I remind you, was formerly only seen as a pair of glasses,) to be validated. 

This heartbroken group began expressing their grievances, drawing their own artistic interpretations, and begging Sony Animations to pull a “Sonicby taking the Invisible man back to the drawing boards. A couple of short weeks ago, user Layana Clouet created a petition entitled “MAKE THE HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA INVISIBLE MAN HOT.” As of June 3, 2021, the petition has over 32,000 signatures. 

Some argued that they pictured Griffin somewhere in the genre of skinny man that includes Neil Cicierega or Matthew Gray Gubler. Others pointed out that Griffin’s use of an afro pick in a particular scene led them to believe he would be Black. The possibility of Griffin resembling his voice actor, David Spade, was also brought into the mix. Loads of additional arguments began to surface their way through the discussion. For instance, evidential screencaps of Griffin wearing clothing were dug up with the case that they wouldn’t fit his larger “Transformania” body in the same way.

Apart from the design’s attractiveness, some expressed their concerns that his characterization felt vaguely anti-semetic. I believe that this discussion, while firstly is much more important than the other complaints, mostly depends on the animators’ intentions: is the joke that Griffin is ugly? And are his curly hair and cartoonishly large nose, (features used to mock Jewish people for ages,) the butt of the joke implying ugliness to the viewers? A very valid criticism- one that I feel will have a bit more to draw from with the context of the entire movie. 

Many people arguing against the redesign brought up the fact that Griffin’s confident and flirty demeanor when invisible does not correspond with his self-consciousness and insecurity after transforming. Additionally, Griffin’s leadership of an aerobics class featured in “Hotel Transylvania 2” led other fans to the conclusion that he wouldn’t be ‘the type to let himself go,’ which in of itself is extremely harmful and brings me to my own personal thoughts. 

This whole situation feels very iffy to me in the context of subjective “hotness.” Who’s to say that Griffin isn’t attractive now that we can see him? Does it say something about us as a society, (even in a situation such as this,) how quickly we are to deem features such as large noses, baldness, and obesity as immediately ugly? 

Another thing I’ve come to realize is that Griffin has no obligation to be conventionally attractive, especially not to Gen-Z. Just look at who he hangs out with. He’s a middle-aged man whose friend group consists of the dumpy dads of the monster world. While, sure, he could’ve been taking care of his bald spot by sense of touch, it’s not like the circle he surrounds himself with would pressure him to do so. Griffin is canonically hundreds of years old, he’s not going to look like some tall, lanky, dream boy fresh out of college. I hate to break it to you, but in no realistic world was he going to look like Spencer Reid.

I also feel that Griffin’s invisibility and existence as a monster is a factor being overlooked. For all we know, his “Transformania” human version may be a massive alteration from what his figure actually looks like as the invisible man. This conclusion wouldn’t be too far off based on the existing (yet very loose) rules this world/trailer have laid out.

Whether you hate the redesign, love the redesign, or have absolutely no clue what I’ve been talking about, you’ve got to hand it to Sony’s marketing. Whether or not they planned for it, this whole debacle got people talking and will likely do wonders for their box-office numbers when “Transformania” drops on June 23. Go see it, don’t see it, I honestly couldn’t care less- but in parting, maybe be more careful about who you simp for on the internet.