Why Horror is Healthy and Why Censoring It Is Not
Updated: Oct 17, 2019
Horror has never been fully embraced by mainstream pop culture. Often, it is Hollywood’s dirty little secret. Horror movies are often categorized as thriller or action movies to gain the acceptance of not just the public, but the awards panels and even the people who work in them. Horror has been blamed for a lot of the evil that exists in the world. However, our genre is anything but evil.
Horror is the perfect example of art imitating life. Monsters play the roles of real villains. We get to see our demons displayed in Technicolor and face our fears in safety. Metaphors gloss over our real life horror shows. A spoonful of subtext makes the medicine go down. Our genre shines light upon the dark and dirty. Not just personally, but often politically as well. Horror is a cultural catharsis, yet it is often kept as far from the mainstream as possible.
Horror creators and fans are also seen as unstable members of the fringe when quite the opposite is true. Our genre is home to some of the most well adjusted people you will ever meet. Not only have we faced our darkness, we’ve created amazing things from it. We make the safe spaces for others to face their darkness. We are not the lowest common denominator that we are often portrayed as. We wrote that book, shot that film, created that art piece with intelligence, empathy and intention.
We know what the fuck we’re doing.
Censorship stems from fear. If something makes you uncomfortable, you ignore it. If you are in a position of power, you censor it. Horror is often taken literally and therefore misunderstood. Many people can’t look beyond the bloody surface to find the meaning underneath. Or if they see it, they don’t like it. Maybe they can’t handle the fact that the reflection in that broken mirror isn’t psychopathic killers and their crazed fans, but them. When you can’t handle your own flaws, or even accept that you have any, you pick an easy scapegoat and focus the blame on that. You try and hide it in the back room or the bottom of the pile. Or you edit the shit out of it until it fits into your definition of “acceptable.” Tipper Gore and the MPAA are just two examples.
As technology advances, censorship is taking on new forms. Social media “standards” seem to be left intentionally vague so that they can be selectively enforced. Punishment for violating these “standards” varies from suspension to deletion of your account whether or not you even knew you did anything wrong. User support/appeals processes are non-existent. The Soska Sisters had their account abruptly deleted for putting a poster for their movie Rabid in the banner of their Twitter account. No explanation. No one to appeal to. Nothing. If this can happen to such well known talent it can happen to anyone. Having one’s creative voice taken away arbitrarily with no recourse is a scary thing. Getting that voice edited or censored to fit someone else’s standards is just as bad. And the thought that we’re supposed to just sit back and take it is even worse.
That’s where the horror community comes in. The best argument in favor of horror is that we have a community that is strong, diverse, inclusive and supportive. There’s no rom-com cons. And there’s a reason for that. Our passions run deeper than the average fandom. When one of us is wronged, the rest of us do what we can to fix that. When one of us needs something there is always someone to help. There have been countless fundraising efforts to help creators who have fallen on hard times. Many creators have their fundraising campaigns for new content as well. Sure, it’s not all black rainbows and dead roses. But there is a camaraderie among horror fans and creators that simply does not exist anywhere else. We are a unique brand of people. We have a unique voice. And we will not be silenced.