Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Art: Is this a bust or something?

The It's Alive Project, currently on display at the City Arts Factory in Orlando, FL, is a show of 80 Boris Karloff busts, redesigned by contemporary artists. Some of the busts allude to Karloff's iconic roles, while others take Karloff's famous mug in some truly odd directions. Make with the link clickin' to check out a flikr set of the designs.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Mad science: The snuggle of doom!

The Psychologuist has a great info dump article on the psychology of horror that gives readers a nice survey of work in the field: from evolutionary developmental theories on uses of fear to theories on the popularity of specific monster tropes. One nice takeaway is the experimental evidence for what's commonly known as the "snuggle theory." Now you'll rarely see the snuggle theory brought into horror conversations when the horror blog pro-am get around to discussing the importance and meaning of horror. Why? Well, because it's main premise is that horror's just an elaborate pick-up gimmick. Also, what horror blog wants to drop the word "snuggle?" The snuggle theory holds that "viewing horror films may be a rite of passage for young people, providing them with an opportunity to fulfill their traditional gender roles." Basically, it's a danger free way for dudes to act brave in the face of fear and be a comfort to their scared potential mates. Not only is there some awkwardly heavy-handed bio-determinism all up in there, but who wants to take their cherished genre and say that its, at it roots, a kinda of half-assed way to impress the babes with faux courage? But before we utterly dismiss it, here comes the science:

A paper from the late 1980s by Dolf Zillmann, Norbert Mundorf and others found that male undergrads paired with a female partner (unbeknown to them, a research assistant), enjoyed a 14-minute clip from Friday the 13th Part III almost twice as much if she showed distress during the film. Female undergrads, by contrast, said they enjoyed the film more if their male companion appeared calm and unmoved. Moreover, men who were initially considered unattractive were later judged more appealing if they displayed courage during the film viewing. ‘Scary movies and monsters are just the ticket for girls to scream and hold on to a date for dear life and for the date (male or female) to be there to reassure, protect, defend and, if need be, destroy the monster,’ says Fischoff. ‘Both are playing gender roles prescribed by a culture.’

So, next time somebody holds a roundtable on what's so great about horror, have the courage to say "I like horror because it's a great way to fool horror chicks into thinking I'm awesome so I can bang them." I know at least one horror blogger who should be answering this way already, but let's all do our horror-blog host pal a solid and take the pressure off by "I am Spartacus"-ing the idea.