A few days ago I watched a very excellent episode of Running Man based on Phantom of the Opera (you can watch it for free here). I got the main theme from the musical stuck in my head, and I’ve been singing it to myself ever since.
Curious about how the lyrics were related to the story (particulary the phrase “My power over you grows stronger yet”), I looked up the plot. I remember seeing the film as a teenager and not finding it particularly enjoyable, except for the famous theme, so it surprised me to read what a dark and macarbe story it told. The Phantom, disfigured from birth, hidden away from the world in a dark lair that he created for himself, tormenting the occupants of the Operahouse and killing (or threatening to kill) the inhabitants if they didn’t do as he demanded… I found it strangely appealing, even as I found it horrible.
Despite how ableist it is (set in the late 1800’s, so a different time to be sure), I really resonated with the idea of the Phantom. As someone who created a Domain themselves, I could appreciate the idea of having a place where I was all-powerful. I could relate to the idea of being outcasted, shamed, and rejected. And the Phantom kind of fills out the fantasy of being so powerful that others have no choice but to do as he wishes. I can see him as a sad and lonely figure, never knowing love or kindness despite being worthy of it. I see his gift for music, and wonder about the world that might have been if he was celebrated for who he was rather than shunned.
At the end of the day, as much as I admire the imagery, he murdered people so that he might feel loved. Christine was so frustrating tome, being so pure and loving that she would accept a life of misery or death to save others from his violence (very Desdemona).
I don’t really have anything productive to say, other than I seriously can’t stop singing this song in my head. It haunts me. Maybe Andrew Lloyd Webber is the real phantom.