We horror narratives, fables handed down from one
We have all had a special interest in horror as long as we can remember. Whether our outlet is through fables, movies, or even figments of our imaginations we all find reason to fear something. (ScienceDaily). The issue is when we begin reaching out to these outlets and pursuing them, putting ourselves in the environment of fear to feel the exhilaration of being frightened but the question is why? Many scientists have given their own explanation to this question but they all differ and there is no solid reasoning.As time moves forward so does technology. Although the most popular outlet for the horror genre nowadays is a good horror film this was not always the case because “Before there were horror movies, there were written or spoken horror narratives, fables handed down from one generation to the next, and, as we shall see, the theatrical presentations designed to thrill and horrify audiences” (Dixon 1). Over time, individual cultures created the same monsters but customized them to their specific cultures. For example, Mexico has the Chewbacabra and North America has Bigfoot. These are in theory the same “monster” but are unique to the cultures that brought them to life. As the form in which we experience horror expands so do the pockets of the people producing the material our fears feed off. The horror industry is a “… frighteningly big business: The appeal of evil drives the $500 million haunted-attraction industry and $400 million at the box office for horror films each year…” (Chudgar). The expansion of horror not only pays those who produce but it also pushes the special effects industry. Nowadays you cannot have a successful horror movie without pulling off a few impressive special effects tricks. The better the tricks, the more money the industries gain. These corporate monopolies feed off each other. The stronger one industry becomes the strength of the other follows suit. It is a team effort really.The horror genre releases an adrenaline rush that we all crave. No matter what fears you have you are willing to have these fears brought to life on a big screen as long as it is happening to someone other than yourself. It is the same reason we watch the news, someone is kidnapped and you are completely engulfed in the situation but if it were happening to you, you would be on the verge of an emotional breakdown (Royer). We pay money to go to put ourselves in this situations because” “We know before we enter the movie theater that we will feel unpleasurable fear during the movie or the story, but we also know that we will feel pleasure (even during that fear!) because we know we won’t have to do anything about it” (Holland).The horror genre not only brings our fears to life but it also brings forward the psychopath in all of us. A popular author, who many fans have deemed “The King of Horror” itself, Stephen King, published a short essay titled ‘Why we crave horror movies’. King simply stated “I think we’re all mentally ill; those outside of the asylums only hide it a little better- and maybe not that much better, after all.” King continues to talk about how we call it fun when we walk out of a movie theatre after watching another human being be torn apart, murdered, or possessed. We call this cruel imagery fun and dismiss it as a social norm. King also presents a very interesting idea that horror has become the society of today’s public lynching. Although we are not doing the pain ourselves, we sit there to feel the rush as if we were. Modern society has worked very hard to remove this part of humanity from the population but not every human being can evolve with the rest of the pack. This is why we still see humans killing one another or abusing each other. Sure, it is frowned upon and even punished but society was not always that way. In the 1950’s the Mafia’s ran the city, killing anyone they wanted to and this was normal because that is how society was molded during that period. Horror evolves with society because it represents the views of societies. (Dixon).I remember telling children when I was younger that I did not watch cartoons, I watched horror movies and it was the truth. I can vividly remember watching Stephen King’s “IT” when I was four years old and the exact amount of fear I felt but I also remember the intrigue I felt as well. Although, I knew these monsters created in the movies that filled my childhood were fictional, I still remember walking down a dark hallway and having the image from one of those movies etched in the back of mind. In fact, I still have an irrational fear of the dark due to my over exposed childhood to the things that go bump in the night. It all comes down to the idea that “If I had faced it then, I wouldn’t be facing it now, but sooner or later you have to choose between running and facing the thing you thought you could not face” (The 5th Wave). All fears will eventually be overcome but it will only happen once the individual has enough strength to destroy the anchor that has been holding them down.Last month I finished a phenomenal series by Rick Yancey called The Monstrumologist, which focused on the grotesque urban myths that Yancey beautifully, gave life to in his stories. Although his stories are meant to focus around the creatures in this new realm of society, he also addressed fear quite a bit. One quote specifically caused me to ponder the concept of fear. It simply went “There are times when fear is not our enemy. There are times when fear is our truest, sometimes only, friend” (Yancey). It was not horribly complex or fantastic but it pushed me to think that maybe fear was not just a negative emotion. Could it be that fear also had its benefits? Imagine if society did not have those news stories of disappearing children for a mother to use as a tool to scare her own child into staying away from strangers or even the fear of an individual losing their job that pushes them to work harder. Without this specific feeling of fear, we would not be as cautious with our lives. Could we even say that we would not work as hard for life because we did not have to worry about losing it? Fear fuels our fire and yet it is easily labeled as “the most negative of negative emotions” (Holland).Another idea is that horror is used as an outlet for complex societal issues. For instances many authors have created exact ties from an alien movie to modern day religion. It is much easier to believe that we are not in control of our destiny and that there is something bigger than us that is deciding our “destiny”. By far, “The deepest issue might be whether humans are the chosen ones, the loved ones, either by God or by beings from outer space? Are they worth forgiving or even saving?” (Royer). If we were to face the idea that every decision we make in our life affects the outcome of our life we would be seeing the world and choosing are actions a lot differently. Fear cannot be labeled as black or white, it can only be labeled as grey. It is sort of “Like good and evil. If everything was good, then nothing would be good” (The 5th Wave). That is the reason to why the horror industry must continue to evolve alongside society. We must have something to scare us into cherishing the lives we live. Everyone discusses “…these films, debate their meaning, praise and condemn them. These films that touch upon our collective fears becomes part of our culture” (Phillips). Watching that young girl be chased around or murdered for an hour and half makes you realize how lucky you are. Reading that one novel that convinces the reader, they are lucky to live in a world without these vicious creatures. As a society, we must be able to view the worst-case scenario to realize how much we actually have to lose. The horror industry is not a part of culture as much as our culture is a part of the horror industry. Nevertheless, how often do we incorrectly label the monsters of society as some creature that rips somebody to pieces or some lunatic terrorizing an innocent town? Fables were not just created from thin air. These “monsters” were not pulled from the discard pile in God’s workshop; these monsters were created from human actions. Growing up I remember closing my closet door before I could turn off the light or making sure my feet NEVER extended the edge of the bed but as I got older I stopped doing these things. Why? In one of the Batman movies The Joker says, “We stopped looking for monsters under our bed, when we realized they were inside us” (The Dark Knight). Society comes up with the unpleasant ideas that create fear. Our minds fuel the horror industry. Maybe this is why we have such urges to experience the adrenaline and crave the fear within the horror industry because we are the horror industry, within every mind is a horror story, a personal monster, a unique fear.Works Cited1. Chudgar, Sonya. “Creativity Online.” RDF 1. Crain Communications, 30 Oct. 2013. Web. 01 Feb. 2014. .2. Dixon, Wheeler W. A History of Horror. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers UP, 2010. Print.3. Freeland, Cynthia A. The Naked and the Undead: Evil and the Appeal of Horror. Boulder, CO: Westview, 2000. Print.4. Holland, Norman. “Why Are There Horror Movies?” Www.pysochologytoday.com. Sussex Publishers, LLC, 4 Jan. 2010. Web. 1 Mar. 2014. .5. Holmes, Kevin. “How Horror Films Have Helped Advance The Visual Effects Industry.” The Creators Project. Intel, 31 Oct. 2012. Web. 01 Feb. 2014. .6. O’Brian, Lucy. “The Curious Appeal of Horror Movies.” IGN. IGN Entertainment, 9 Sept. 2013. Web. 01 Feb. 2014. .7. Phillips, Kendall R. Projected Fears: Horror Films and American Culture. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2005. Print.8. Poole, Steven. “Doctor Sleep by Stephen King-Review.” Rev. of Doctor Sleep by Stephen King. The Guardian Manchester 25 Sept. 2013, Culture/Books/Stephen King sec.: n. pag. Www.theguardian.com. Guardian News and Media, 25 Sept. 2013. Web. 14 Feb. 2014. .9. Royer, Carl, and Diana Royer. The Spectacle of Isolation in Horror Films: Dark Parades. New York: Haworth, 2005. Print.10. “Why Do People Love Horror Movies? They Enjoy Being Scared.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 July 2007. Web. 30 Jan. 2014. .11. Yancey, Richard. The 5th Wave. New York: Simon & Schuster BFYR, 2009. Print.12. Yancey, Richard. The Monstrumologist. 1-4 ed. New York: Simon & Schuster BFYR, 2009. Print. The Monstrumologist.