Horror As Resistance

I didn’t set out to write this sort of thing. This blog was supposed to be a way for me to put my ideas out into the world, the collected works I could point to whenever someone asked about my ideas on film and culture. This was supposed to be padding for my graduate school application. But we live in a tumultuous society and one that now – more than ever – demands that our voices either be heard or silenced completely. Though my reach is limited, I have the power to get my words out there. I am not risking my life for these words. I can do this one small thing and in honor of those who cannot, I feel that I have an obligation to try.

I want to tell you something, readers: you have been lied to. You have been told that you have no power and that your interest – even love – of horror storytelling and film has no meaning. At best, it’s a frivolous hobby. At worst, something ugly and deviant, a shameful pastime never to be mentioned out loud. I’ve spent a considerable amount of time and effort arguing for the merits of horror and other types of genre storytelling, and I find myself compelled to do so once again right here, right now.

Friends, nothing you love is meaningless if it gives you strength. Through storytelling, human beings examine the what-if, the infinite possibilities of our world and all the worlds that might follow it. Through horror, we experience the abject and the strange. As an audience, we see our fears presented on screen and conquer them. Because the truth of every horror film is that no matter the plot, no matter the body count, no matter how vividly the nightmare is constructed, the audience always survives. Don’t you see? Every time, the audience faces down their fears and conquers them. The audience always survives. We’ve endured zombie plagues and serial killers, werewolves and demonic dolls, and none of them – not even the ghosts or their knives – could stop us. In their own small way, horror films have made survivors out of their audiences. And for me, that matters. If I can face catacombs and vampires and in doing so find the strength to resist misogyny in the wider world, then it hardly matters where that strength came from; only that it belongs to me, and I will not be quiet in possessing it.

What you love is not meaningless if it gives you strength. This is not to say that horror films are the unlikely cure for all the world’s ills or that they empowering to everyone in the same way. No, horror is merely a genre, a means of storytelling, and for good or ill, stories are not inherently anything. But if you can find strength in them or coopt them as a form of resistance, then they are not meaningless.

Find your stories. Find them in horror or comedy, find them in theater, film, or the graffiti at your bus stop; find your monsters and survive them. And know that by surviving them, you can survive the world.

What you love is not meaningless. What I love helps me endure.

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