Saturday, August 01, 2009

Stuff: "And that, in a sentence, is why your horror sucks."

When it comes to obsessively policing the "correctness" of works within their chosen genre, nobody beats horror fans.

Sure, sci-fi readers may have us matched when it comes self-defensive knee-jerk reactions to what we perceive as anti-genre bias in the mainstream. But nobody can get as hot when proposing what should and should not be considered as a valid addition to our pet genre. You couldn't find a mystery fan who, even if their tastes ran towards the hardest of hardboiled crime fic, would not recognize the elegant classics of Elizabeth Daly, the juvenile Nancy Drew series, and the aw-shucks slapstick of Kinky Friedman as all belonging legitimately to the genre. Sci-fi guys regularly lay down definitions RE the scientific rigor of the romances they read, but they know it's bullshit: Not a one of them wouldn't count Philip K. Dick among their number and his works are about as scientifically rigorous as The Great Space Coaster. I can't imagine you hear many romance novel readers say, "I don't consider romances between nurses and doctors to be real romance. It's either lusty pirates with good hearts and the clever, but sheltered - don't forget sheltered, sheltered is the whole thing! - daughters of wealthy shipping magnates or nothing!"

But horror fandom, with rare exceptions, seems to exist in a constant state of self-induced appreciation pogromitude, a constant ferreting out of "not REAL horror," with bloggers, forums, and twitter feeds acting as a million little horror-centric HUACs. While few in the sci-fi ghetto would rail on about Artemis Fowl or The Hunger Game, the fact that tween girls enjoy the Twilight series is apparently a source of unending and obsessive focus for horror fans who, at their age, should really be minimally obsessed with monitoring and evaluating the behavoirs of tween girls. Seriously, boys and girls, it's a wee bit creepy.

The constant clash between horror's self-appointed purity police is lightly spoofed in the latest issue of Vertigo's Unwritten. (You can stop reading now Tucker, it's going to involve words and an inauspicious lack of female nudity; blame writer Mike Carey and artist Peter Gross.) The new ish features a cabal of horror writers who gather at the Villa Diodati, the Swiss timeshare at which Mary Shelly first conceived of Frankenstein and his monster, to discuss the importance of Frankenstein and argue about the genre. For fans, the clichéd creators and the works they describe are funny.

Here's the group giving introductions. Give it the ol' clickety click to embiggen.



Later, the Torture Porn guy and the Laurell K. Hamilton analog mix it up a bit. Again, the clicking's the trick.




11 comments:

Ms Harker said...

Hilarious! I have given the Twilight stuff a little bit of a spanking for giggles. But I stand by my point made a while back, which Kevin Smith also made at Comic Con last week. If it gets kids reading then isn't that a good thing. For us in the horror community, we just need to cross our undead fingers and hope it sparks interest in better literature like Bra Stokers Dracula etc.

www.musingcontinuum.com

zoe said...

psh. all stuff written for teens is melodramatic gushy-ness.
i agree, it's sort of creepy to pay too much attention to it...
i liked the title (and its source). :)

CRwM said...

Ms Harker,

That Smith one is wise. When he isn't making Jersey Girl.

Honestly, the whole Twilight series sounds silly to me. But, seriously, find a non-horror fan and try to explain why one vampire is "real horror" and the other isn't. You'll end up sounding silly too. Being a fan always sounds silly to the non-fan.

Let the kids dig on what they dig.

CRwM said...

Zoe,

I don't know the backstory. What's the deal with the title? Where's it from?

zoe said...

oops--
i meant the post title--"and that, in a sentence, is why your horror sucks."

Brian said...

Well said. One can embrace the horror genre and not dig all of its various permutations.

In response to an earlier exchange between you and Curt Purcell over at "Groovy Age", Tenebrous Kate proudly embraced the title of "cultist" when it came to her blogging: cultist and entertainer. I defy anybody to find more genuine horror-love, hilarity, insight and style (not to mention modesty) than over at "Love Train"

As Ms Harker points out, kids don't usually start-out reading the classics or masters. Most of us graduated to the roller coaster via the "kiddie rides". So what if some adults also enjoy them? It's not unheard of for them to "up-grade" too.

I prefer bloggers to reviewers (though they're important too) for their tacit admission of subjectivity and abiding love of the genre, the various and inevitable inflated egos notwithstanding.

We're all cultists now.

(And I should really stop responding to these posts whilst drinking coffee.)

Sasquatchan said...

CRWM,

I assume your invite to the chateau was lost in the mail ?

Phantom of Pulp said...

The old, original Cinefantastique magazine (edited by Fred S. Clarke) was incredibly inclusive when it came to what constituted the fantastique (horror, sci-fi, fantasy). If there was even a mild element of make-believe or detour into a dark corner, it constituted the fantastique. Did it create "a sense of wonder" in the viewer/reader/listener? That's all that mattered. Categories are terribly limiting, and are part of the reason why mainstream horror (which is strictly category-marketed) is so bland. Much of the best work in the "fantastique" realm is cross-genre. Some wouldn't, but I would argue that Volker Schlondorf's "The Tin Drum" is a horror film because of its treatment of the subject matter and magic realism aspects.

Christine said...

"...and his works are about as scientifically rigorous as The Great Space Coaster."

And with that line, you were added to my list of must-reads.

I didn't even mind the fact that this post completely called me out for being one of THOSE people. But I'll try to be more open-minded about my horror from now on. Promise.

I Love Horror said...

"While few in the sci-fi ghetto would rail on about Artemis Fowl or The Hunger Game, the fact that tween girls enjoy the Twilight series is apparently a source of unending and obsessive focus for horror fans who, at their age, should really be minimally obsessed with monitoring and evaluating the behavoirs of tween girls. Seriously, boys and girls, it's a wee bit creepy."

Hey, words hurt :(

Of course, I'm assuming that's directed at me (at least partially). If it is, then see my rebuttal at the Groovy Age of Horror: http://groovyageofhorror.blogspot.com/2009/08/better-to-snuff-candle-than-curse.html

My association with Twilight is starting to irk me.

CRwM said...

I Heart Horror,

Trust me, that comment wasn't aimed at any one person in particular.

You've written about Twilight, like what, two or three times? Shit, I've written about Twilight more than you and I don't even have any particularly feelings about the franchise either way.

I think the problem is that you're simply a more witty writer than most horror bloggers, so when you unload on something, you give your target a complete workover. Consequently, people remember what you've said. If you'd just written, "Girls are icky. Vampires are teh scaries! Boo, Twilight" as most anti-Twilighters do, nobody would remember it at all.

I've got a friend who writes for a national magazine's website and his advice has always been, "Don't sweat it, don't apologize, and don't respond. The news cycle will just refresh the next weekend and nobody will care what was said last week."