This week I need to speak from the heart and address a topic that I’ve seen come up more than a handful of times on Twitter, Facebook, and various horror websites in the last week. Please excuse the stronger tone that I carry through this article and the lack of my dark humor this week. This is something that I’ve always felt strongly about and experienced firsthand, but now my little freakish ghouls; I need to share a piece of my ancient wisdom with you.
Horror is, has, and always will be discriminated against for nothing less than what it is. What else would you expect of a topic that exclusively deals with a controversial issue such as the supernatural? When you step into this genre, do not expect respect or admiration from other genres outside of it. What we see as fun in means of vampires, ghouls, werewolves, and witches the rest of the population sees as tacky, blasphemous, and immature. ). Rolling Stone magazine, film producer Jon Landau wrote that the Exorcist was “nothing more than a religious porn film, the gaudiest piece of shlock this side of Cecil B. DeMille (minus that gentleman’s wit and ability to tell a story)”. Linda Gross of the Los Angeles Times called Texas Chainsaw Massacre “despicable” and described Henkel and Hooper as “more concerned with creating a realistic atmosphere as with its plastic script”.
“They think I worship the Devil, they must be stupid or blind” – Rock and Roll Rebel, Ozzy Osbourne.
The purpose of horror is to provoke a response from the audience. This response may be emotional or psychological, it may shock or disgust, but by whatever means it needs to move a person out of their comfort zone. What the majority of the population does not appreciate is the use of metaphors in the genre. They are too worried about not being able to sleep after reading or watching something that just scared the shit out of them (but was probably nothing more than a social statement against famishing crop productivity in third world countries.
“Some people prefer the finer things in life, I’m alright hanging out with the ghost of Vincent Price” – The Ghost of Vincent Price, Wednesday 13.
How many times have you used the word “horror” as an answer to a question, whatever it may be, and the other person looks at you funny like you are either childish or a freak, or both. I love that look because I know have found an opening that I can use to either manipulate them into become a horror fan, accepting the horror genre by a better understanding, or if nothing else works, use their ignorance against them in a passive manner. If they still do not understand, leave them. The only person that you have to convince is yourself. You owe them no explaination.
“You would see if only, you hadn’t taken things out of my hands. Only, you never wanted to understand” – Only, Anthrax.
I attend annually a rather large horror convention here in Texas (name withheld to protect the guilty). A couple of years ago I wrote to them complaining of the quality of “horror” guests that they had lined up. Let’s just say that that year’s headlining guests included a little person who was made famous by Austin Powers movies, and a brat pack member from the 80’s John Hughes films. When I vented my frustration via email (since I had to travel over 400 miles to attend) that they could do better as they did in the past with real horror personalities (Alice Cooper, Clive Barker, George Romero) they told me, “If you look at their IMDB pages you will see that they did appear in a horror movie, some several in fact. This was an open book test and you failed. You are officially kicked out of the horror club.” (Yeah, that was what they told a paying customer. I kept the email. I carry it with me at all times to remember that. Well, one year later and I’ve got a couple of published stories, a short film in the works, and a weekly article section. Congratulations assholes…you just made this one!) Stand fast to your enemies my fiends. When they say that living well is the best revenge, they aren’t lying.
“We’re not losers all of the time. We march and we fall, we’re one and for all. It’s just evil all of the time. We are the fiend club,…Not you!” – Fiend Club, The Misfits.
I write for what I can get out of it. Neither Poe nor Lovecraft was recognized for their association with the genre during their active careers. (The fact is Lovecraft was more shunned than anything else due to his odd subject matter.) I know that horror disassociates people and nothing anytime soon is going to change that. It is something that we have to learn to accept. When we accept things that we cannot change, internally we grow our patience and tolerance. Do not get upset and let your temper control your emotions. Personally for me, I don’t think I have to justify my choices.
“You don’t know what is in our hearts, this is our time, we’ve made our mark. Can you understand that we’ll fight til we fall.” – The Last Command, W.A.S.P.
If you feel you have debate them let’s take a lesson from literature that is non-horror based for a moment. Alexandre Dumas’ “The Three Musketeers were named Athos, Porthos and Aramis. These were all names based around a play on words of the modes of persuasion in conflict. Athos (Ethos) was a character based on emotion and ethics. He appealed to others through an honest presentation of his character. Porthos (Pathos) was a very suave dresser and used his looks as leverage. He used his looks to play on other’s “sympathy”. Aramis (Logos) was a deep thinker, the “logical“one, and would try to logically reason with his opponents. Later they added a fourth member, d’Artagnan, a hot headed youngster. This represented the belief that if nothing else worked, resort finally to violence.
“Time out, let’s get something clear, I speak more truth than you want to hear. Scapegoat to cover up your fear” – You Can’t Bring Me Down, Suicidal Tendencies
What I’m getting at is this. Use your knowledge, sympathy, and emotions in check when confronted with prejudice against your beloved genre. Keep your standards high, as they should be, but do not expect the Academy to be knocking down your down for movie of the year; do not expect your book to be on the Oprah book club list. Enjoy horror for yourself and not the acceptance of others. Make a movie or book that is for your pleasure and for a handful of others that will enjoy the reaction it brings. I don’t want to be the next Steven King. That is not the high standard I have for myself. I want to make my mark by having a small cult following that is ecstatic for my few works rather than mild for my many. I wasted 30 years to learn to not give a damn about what others think and I wish I would’ve learned that sooner.
“What do ya mean I’m not kind?…Just not your kind” – Peace Sells, Megadeth.
Do not allow for people to piss on your parade. If you like horror, be proud of this choice. Be comfortable in the shoes that you wear, for it is those that will take the journey with you for miles. Do not allow for other’s taste to sour your meal, for it is your food that will fill you and nourish your body. Do not expect recognition for your work from those who are too busy seeking the approval of others. Finally, do not waste a knock on the door of a neighbor who is not home. They will offer the least amount of company.
Until next time, rest in pieces…