Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Sick Fuckers (?)

Usually this blog is just an excuse to either rant a bit about the latest movie news, plug a friend’s worthwhile event, or just say “shit” and “fuck” a lot. But this time out, I’m actually going to write a serious rumination on our genre! Bust out the dictionary folks, I got me a case of the “pretentious dick” syndrome.

What got me going was this link (thanks for the post, Rue Morgue!): The basic gist is that a study at Cornell University concluded that those that dislike icky things like horror movies tend to be conservative. To my many conservative friends out there who revel in the gore just as much as my liberal ass, my apologies. But the article did bring up some interesting points.

Working on a horror film festival in this city has been a challenging but rewarding experience. The reward has been realizing how many of you depraved bastards and bastardettes are out there in my very own city, and it’s a blast being able to bring to you the craziest horror flicks from around the world, and share them in a communal experience.

The challenge? Hearing those dreaded words “I HATE HORROR MOVIES”. I’ve heard them a lot in the past 2 years, and the challenge has been to convince people that despite the fact that they don’t like it, many do, and it’s a viable market with the potential to put our city on the map. But no matter how many facts and figures, how much brass tax, or how many dollar signs you flaunt, some people are just convinced that horror has no place in our society.

So it’s got me thinking about what it means to be a horror fan, and what horror in general means to our culture. Almost from birth, we are indoctrinated into a world of the horrific through the most unlikely source – fairy tales. Today these tales have been Disneyfied, complete with a whole slew of product tie-ins readily available at your local strip mall. But if you go back to the original source material, the Grimm Brothers, you find worlds filled with terrifying imagery in which no one – not even a child – was safe from the wrath of the supernatural and the spectre of death. Many of the Grimm’s works were based on ancient folk tales that went much farther back into our dark collective history.

I won’t bore you with the historical details, but I will say that horror has been a part of our world stretching back to the dawn of our civilization. At every era in our history, horror has been represented strongly in our culture – ancient Greek tragedies, Grand Guignol plays, German expressionism, the Universal monsters of the ‘30s and ‘40s… all the way to the modern age, yada yada yada.

It’s always been a part of our culture because, ultimately, ours is a culture of death. None of us can avoid it. And our history is full of real horrors – both inflicted by nature and by our own hands. My belief – and this’ll piss off a lot of folks, I’m sure – is that where horror fits into one’s entertainment and escapism is a factor of how one deals with the horror of reality. There are two types of people: those living in the bubble and those living out of the bubble – and I believe horror fans fit squarely in the latter category.

What is “the bubble”? Its insulation. Its chick flicks. Its all things Oprahfied. It’s like a comfy blanket to a three year old – that little piece of security, no matter how false. Its how some people may choose to deal – or not deal – with the nature of our world. Living is like walking a tightrope, even in today’s modern times. We may not have nature’s predators stalking us around every corner, but we have predators nonetheless. There are economic predators, looking to strip us of our livelihood, microbial predators like cancer and the new crop of emerging diseases, human predators, or even just the dumb fuck driving his pickup too fast on the highway. The world, despite its progress, is still scary as hell.

The Bubble, in many ways, is denial. That’s not to say that everyone who dislikes horror is a pussy, or in some way mentally incapable of dealing with life, or that everyone that likes chick flicks is in denial - some form of escapism is important for us all. But there are some people who can’t accept that, despite diligently going to work every day, paying their taxes, and doing what’s expected of them, they may still get fucked in the end. When real life horrors encroach into their lives, some people simply can’t handle it. We see this with the ‘knee jerk” types who, when faced with horrific tragedy, rant and rave that “something must be done about this”. Randomness be damned…

So naturally, many of these people shy away from anything that reminds them of the precarious nature of our existence, and there’s no better reminder in our pop culture of how thin the strings are that hold us up than a good old frightfest.

Why do horror fans embrace the darkness? What makes them different? Despite the fact that I refer to us as “sick fucks” and “depraved bastards”, I think nothing of the sort. Most horror fans I know are also the most balanced, sane people I know. I believe the horror fan doesn’t embrace horror because we’re messed in the head, I believe we embrace horror because our head is screwed on well enough to know that the world is a messed up place, and what’s on screen is nothing in comparison.

Sarte (or maybe Voltaire… what the fuck do I know) once said – and I’m paraphrasing – “to escape death, one must immerse one’s self in it”. For us, horror film is escapism because it’s a horror that we can walk away from after ninety minutes. We choose to watch the movie, and we choose to shut it off. We may root for the hero or we may root for the killer; we may revel in mindless gore or seek a less tangible terror that preys on our own imaginations. But however we do it, we do it on our terms. We might as well chase the darkness rather than have the darkness chase us.

On second thought, you guys ARE all sick fuckers. :)
On that note, if you need your monthly quota of on screen blood and boobies, don't forget about the ZOMBIE LUAU this Saturday at Metro! The shenanigans begin at 9pm with contests, giveaways, and my very own home-cooked trailer reel that I hope will have you all busting your guts in the seats. Then we can watch more guts get busted with our 35mm screening of Fulci's ZOMBIE!

Advance tickets are $10 and are available at The Lobby DVD Shop on Whyte!


Robynn said...

Aw, I'm sad. I didn't need my dictionary once. (However, I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't mention that a few of your itses are missing apostrophes, and you missed an R in Sartre...) ;)

Post a Comment

Twitter Updates

    follow me on Twitter

    My Blog List