Monday, October 26, 2009

Is Halloween and Horror in Essence Conservative?

There is a fun discussion on this at NRO right now. They have this Stephen King quote for instance
Horror Is Conservative, cont. [John J. Miller]

Another way in which the horror genre is conservative is that many of its practitioners are keenly aware of their own tradition. Theye track down the writers who have come before them, read the stories of Poe, Lovecraft, etc., and make allusions to them in their own prose.

In other words, they recognize, study, and affirm a canon of work. Consider Stephen King, who is no conservative in the political sense. Years ago, he wrote Danse Macabre, a non-fiction book that is both a history of horror and a personal reader's guide to the genre. I keep an old copy on my shelf and thumb through it every now and then. An e-mailer points to a passage I had forgotten about, in which King makes the point I raised earlier today. Here's a taste:

I've tried to suggest throughout this book that the horror story, beneath its fangs and fright wig, is really as conservative as an Illinois Republican in a three-piece pinstriped suit; that its main purpose is to reaffirm the virtues of the norm by showing us what awful things happen to people who venture into taboo lands. Within the framework of most horror tales we find a moral code so strong it would make a Puritan smile.

Sure, these words are a little tone deaf to conservatism as we NROniks know it. Since when do pinstripes and Puritanism mix? But the general point is spot-on. 10/26 12:49 PMShare

See also LINK and LINK for more on this.

It is true isn't it. I mean in those horror slasher movies whenthe teenagers had a sex scene that was indication in minutes most likley it would be curtains :)


PersonalFailure said...

That's so true. Anyone who was drinking beer, smoking pot or making out in the first 10 minutes of a horror flick would be dead well before the end.

I can see why being sober would be advantageous during a zombie encounter/open portal to hell/alien invasion, but I'm not sure why virginity conferred such protection.

James H said...

Well on the sex thing I guess it was sort of kids doing something they should not be doing. You know awya from the parents etc etc and of course the genre was huge in the 70's where it was a bigger deal I suppose

Mary Ellen said...

I quit watching horror flicks a long time ago because I can't stand the blood and guts scenes. I liked the old fashioned suspense type movies.

My daughter kept telling me how scary "The Ring" was, so I waited until my husband was out of town...lights out...popcorn at the ready...and it was so boring I turned it off before it ended. What a waste of anticipation!

If you really want the blog post I just put up about exorcism rites in the Catholic church and demonic possession. That's creepy.