Sunday, December 15, 2013

Steven King's "Why We Crave Horror Movies"

Forwarded from a friend's blog.


I read Steven King’s essay upon asking myself that very question: Why do people crave horror movies?

Why is it that most people don’t want to be scared, yet at the same time, they pay to get scared?
King provides 3 answers to this question:

1) It reminds us of how much better we are - we’re prettier than the Frankenstein Monster or Leatherface, and nowhere near as insane.

2) It’s a way of “daring the nightmare”, as King put it. We face our fears in the theater to prove to ourselves that we can face those fears.

3) We go to have fun… or, basically, we’re all, secretly or otherwise, insane.

Pretty outrageous claim, right? But of course, a half-decent writer would explain his claims, and thus King continues with his explanation.

King describes our tendency to scare ourselves as a way to “feed the gators”. In essence, our minds have a trapdoor, which underneath has a moat with hungry gators. This is the representation of our insanity. In order to keep the gators there, and not out where everybody else can see them and are threatened by them, you have to throw them chunks of raw meat (in the form of watching horror movies or telling sick jokes).

We all have certain degrees of insanity. Some of us go around and kill random people. Some of us strip naked in the streets. Some of us have engaging conversations with people that aren’t really there.
But those are the ones we lock in the funny farm.

I shall continue, though, while my mind situates itself in song.

[They’re coming to take me away, haha, they’re coming to take me away hoho, hehe, haha, to the funny farm, where life is beautiful all the time…]

The rest of us just very occasionally talk to ourselves, pick our noses when nobody is looking, make funny faces, hold to our irrational fears, etc.

So insanity is a degree, but we all have it. Some people have gators running rampant in their mind, while others keep them down… or they’re just good at hiding the gators.

[… and I’ll be happy to see those nice young men in their clean white coats, and they’re coming to take me away, haha…]

He goes on to compare seeing horror movies to the olden times when, if you had some time on your hands, you’d take your wife and children to relax and unwind, talking to each other like a true family, all the while enjoying a nice, cozy picnic at a public lynching.

So, King’s point is that we’re all truly crazy, and that we just need to occasionally see a horror movie so we can keep our insanity down.

I have a response to this, though:

[… to the happy home…]

Anyone who can create spine-chilling novels or seat-clenching horror movies that, according to King’s logic, would keep people’s insanity down in the depths of the moat under the trapdoor, is in no position to judge the degree of sanity (or insanity) of other people.

I’ve already received this argument though:

"Steven King would probably be the first person to say: ‘I’m the craziest one in this room!’, but he still has a point."

Maybe King would. I would have to agree with him in that case. But there’s an error there.

You don’t let insane people tell you who other insane people are.

"Why, (insert blogger’s name here)? Wouldn’t insane people be the best source to go to if you want to find out if someone else is insane?"

No, simply for the fact that they’re insane. They are not of a rational mind, so how can an irrational person think rationally to tell you who else is irrational?

Do you get it? They’re crazy, you don’t let them advise you for anything.

"Okay then, (insert blogger’s name here), then why don’t you try telling us why people go to see horror movies if they don’t like being scared?"

I’m glad you asked, voice from nobody ever!

[… with trees and flowers and chirping birds…]

When you go to a horror movie, and it ends with the typical “everyone dies the end” (cough Little Shop of Horrors, And Then There Were None cough), do you either:

A) Clap and buy the DVD; or,
B) Say: “Well that was stupid!” and possibly consider getting your money back?

If you answered (A), chances are you really are crazy.

But if you answered (B), as I did, then you can move on to my proposal.

I think that people go to see horror movies to prove that their fears aren’t much to be afraid of. The ones who are reading this, we don’t like it when the horror wins at the end, because then it shows us: “Well, there’s no stopping that mother-“

But if we see a movie where the monster, horror, fear, etc. is killed, defeated, overcome, etc., then we like it. Why?

Because it proves to us that the horror can be defeated, and therefore, it is not as scary as it used to be. That’s how much Hollywood has an impact on us.

My girlfriend, who apparently has a very keen sense of reality, brought up an objection though. You might be able to already guess what her objection was if you’re like her, but here it is:

Hollywood horror movies are simply made up. The solutions, like killing a werewolf with silver bullets, or a vampire with a wooden stake to the heart, are just made up, and if (by some unfortunate chance) we were to encounter one of those things in real life, there is no real evidence that either of those methods would work.

I had already considered that prior to her prompting its response, and I’m proud of that, because that means I still have a grip on reality as well.

Let me put it this way:

If you were to encounter a vampire in real life, and you could pick only one of two options, which would you pick to fight it:

1) A shotgun; or,
2) A bottle of holy water?

Even if you picked (1), you probably considered grabbing (2) for a second. Now let me switch the position. If it were a serial killer, which of those would you pick?

You picked the shotgun, or you’re crazy… or just an idiot.

Regardless of any logic or reason against it, Hollywood has had a great impact on how we see our fears to the point that we’d actually consider chucking a bottle of holy water if we were to face off with a vampire.

That’s my evidence behind my reason for why we see horror movies - we want to make those horrors look pathetic, or at the very least, able to be overcome.

I would crush the hopes and dreams of all people preparing for the zombie apocalypse if I were to tell them that there’s absolutely no reason to believe that shooting a zombie would kill it, or even slow it down.

This is how much we’ve been affected by Hollywood horror movies, and it’s why, I believe, we continue to see them. We’ve become believers.

Or we, including myself, really are crazy.

[… they’re coming to take me away, hahaaaa!]

1 comment:

  1. If we see positive things in a movie we definitely have a positive impact. But this is hardly seen in today’s commercial cinema.


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