Another Response to Horror Ignorance
Earlier this week, a silly article surfaced on Facebook titled What It Says About You If You Enjoy Horror Movies. On Facebook, I remember that it had the picture from The Babadook on it that’s at the top of the article itself. These two things were the reason I clicked the link, thinking, “Here we go.” With a title like that, you know that, as a fan of horror movies, you’re in for a flaming.
I wasn’t disappointed. The article went on to say that fans of horror movies lack empathy, are aggressive, and are generally men. I sighed, and perhaps by mistake I also dismissed the article as so much BS.
I say mistake because at the time I didn’t think of what kind of hatred this kind of thing spreads about people who enjoy a certain genre of popular culture. One could argue that fans of action movies hold the same characteristics because of the thrill seeking and the violence. Yet they are rarely, to my knowledge, attacked.
There was some backlash to this (In Response … by John Squires and An Open Letter to Alice Hobb by BJ Colangelo, both of which are great) which is what got me off my ass and made me realize that we, as horror fans, can’t just shrug this sort of thing off as nonsense, not even worth giving an ounce of our attention. The reason for this is that articles like this one will only affirm what people already believe in people like you and me, the fans of horror.
As an author, I get flack all the time for being a sick bastard because of the things I write about. Most of these people are not horror fans at all and they tend to look at me with a new kind of fear in their eyes after reading one of my stories. My own father, who holds deep Christian values and beliefs, thinks I’m going to burn hell. Someone I know even went to say to me, “I thought I knew you!” There was laughter in that comment, but there was also a real change of perspective.
I wanted to write this response not to join the ranks of people who are better at making arguments for this sort of thing, but more so because this is a subject that fascinates me: why are people like me drawn to horror?
What my friends and family don’t understand about me is that horror is part of my reality. All fans of horror come to it for different reasons, but I think that there is a core similarity for most horror fans. This similarity is fear and the remarkable fact that we are able to look into the abyss and face our fears.
I fear a lot of things. Death, aging, losing the ones I love, seeing terrible things done to the ones I love are all at the top of that list, but let tell you something. The list is long. Things, like dying and death, also disturb me deeply. So watching horror movies is a sort of healthy and vicarious way of dealing and preparing myself for these things.
For they will come. We all age, and we all die. Some of us way before our time.
I’m certain that I’m not alone in thinking about these things. The guys over at a Horror ETC, especially Ted, have discussed this topic on their podcast a few times, and they express similar feelings on the subject. I’ve been member of various horror related forums online and have discussed this topic with friends and came up with similar results. We, in fact, often marvel at how the horror community seems to be more compassionate and understanding of each other more so than non-horror fans. As far as I know it there are no statistics supporting my beliefs here. And, I do indeed understand that there are people out there who are exactly what Alice Hobb’s article describes. To the more intelligent and less judgemental, however, I don’t think that I have to explain how there’s a bad apple in every bunch.
My point is driven from experience, through friends both in real life and online. I’ve experienced both the good apples and the bad ones. I have to say that the good apples thrive, outnumbering the bad.
So then, if that’s the case, why do we enjoy movies like Friday the 13th so much? The good old slasher. That’s a fair question, but there is also the idea of having fun with the things that, if they were at all possibly real, would terrify the living shit out of us. Friday the 13th, and movies like it, are so far removed from reality, though, that it’s nothing but schlock. A fun thrill ride that fans of the Expendables movies, or Commando, Robo Cop or any of the Terminator films, experience. Yes, it is that thrill-seeking element, but I suppose snowboarders and bungee jumpers are also a bunch of sick fucks who can’t be trusted around children either.
Who would imagine that safe, vicarious violence and thrill seeking can be fun?
Does anyone watch cartoons that are targeted at children, as John Squires mentions in his response? John also has a terrifying story about someone who lost his job working with children after his superiors found out he was a horror fan.
The fact is, Alice Hobbs wrote her article on a misunderstood topic that already has prevalent ignorance towards horror fans. We fear what we don’t understand and it’s funny, I think, how fans of horror would look into something that frightens them rather than simply write it off and insult the very person of the typical fan of whatever genre.
Oh, and I wanted to point out that The Passion of the Christ and Avatar are not horror movies as the beginning of Alice’s article might try to pass off. Granted, Passion is certainly horrifying. But it’s not horror.
In closing, I am thankful that this article was written, even though I passed it off at first as so much BS. For one, it gave some people, such as the response articles mentioned above, an intelligent and fact bearing retort. It’s also something that does fascinate me and I love to talk about.
At the same time, it’s sad that someone would use long outdated stats and articles as proof for their convictions.
Hopefully one day we’ll learn.