Degeneration: The All American Nightmare

In relation to our current world issues, Jenah Colledge created an idea for an effective photo shoot based on consumerism and coercion, offering a visual contrast of the American Dream and a 21st century decaying reality. Jenah graduated with a BA Honours in English and Drama and is currently studying an MA in English Studies. She also works closely with Spectral Visions as their director of social media and Editorial Team Leader for the press.

By means of drawing attention to the reality of the horrors we live in, I was forced to take a stand and make my voice heard. Constant news reports of hatred, political idiocy, racism, and the desperate attempt to segregate mankind has only brought the decaying reality of a coerced population to my attention. In a fabricated attempt to offer gilded promises of a better world, the actions agreed are quickly abolished by the powers-that-be, with the introduction of further deeds that demonstrate the opposite of those promised.


Reality at its best

The purpose of this photo shoot is to raise awareness of what the world witnesses without acknowledging the horrific reality. The theme of the American Dream, with reference to the Stepford Wives idea, is a perfect false façade of what society is promised.  Whilst, in reality, there are acts of war, ignorance, greed and the fight for power.  These actions assist in the demolition of what lies behind it; a backward journey rather than impressive evolution.


As it were…

Photographer David Newton cleverly captured the essence of the juxtaposing image of a ‘1940s family. Using techniques such as greyscale and filters, David was able to focus on the dark reality of the manufactured American Dream. Models Rosie Hordon-Clark, Rachael Coady, and James Hogg offered facial expressions that only mirrored that. Makeup, hair and costume by makeup artist The Painted Lady (myself), also focused on different aspects of the degenerate human, from external decay to an internal disease.


The Stepford Wives

The photo shoot took place at Louis Cafe on Parklane in Sunderland, where owner’s Maria and Stephen Lee could not have been more hospitable. Maria’s family, the Maggiore’s, have owned the diner since 1928.
A full album of the photo shoot is available in the portfolio, here (x)



About spectralvisions

Spectral Visions is an annual Gothic conference hosted by the University of Sunderland. It explores the dark, the decadent and the terrifying aspects of Gothic literature and language. This blog is a student-run initiative, where Visionaries showcase their creative talents and learning in short stories, poems and essays on the Gothic. You can follow us on Twitter at @spectralvisi0ns or like us on Facebook at
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2 Responses to Degeneration: The All American Nightmare

  1. Pingback: ‘This is not a democracy anymore’ –Capitalism and Consumption, the 21st century Zombie metaphor | Spectral Visions

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