Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Gawy Bonta!

My dear friend, Sarah, told me she was writing about horror movie stuff. I encouraged her while yet telling her I was likely to disagree with her every word. That's what friends are for.

Sarah's a bright girl, and so her arguments are pretty solid. Read her post here. I am not really going to disagree with her. I don't have to - she was talking about her feelings and experience. I will talk briefly about mine.

I will address horror as I experience it. Like many, I am a bit of an adrenaline junky, only, I don't line up for roller coaster rides and go mountain climbing and downhill skiing, I watch scary movies. Is this a good thing, a bad thing, neutral? It's not perfect, but among pleasures, it's not a lot worse than many. What possible virtue might it contain? I like to think that it helps orient me into a more courageous orientation with respect to evil. Maybe it doesn't, but then again...


We used to homeschool and shelter our oldest two. They were scared of their own shadows. I remember borrowing the movie "The Incredibles" from the library for them. They were probably 5 and 6 at the time. They were scared by it. I don't think they watched it to the end. It is rated 'G' and is a movie about a family of superheroes. As far as movies go, pretty tame stuff. I worried that my kids were too fragile for planet earth such as it is. No, the world is not as it should be. I struggled when to tell them about abortion. (I can't believe I actually had to!) The world sucks, but the kids have to be made aware of that sooner or later...

Now, kids can't process the difference between fiction and fact, I get that. I like to think that I can. The subconscious is a different matter. I see the subconscious, not as something that needs to be coddled, though. Monsters reside there. Hollywood didn't put them there. Original Sin did. Now, what do we do about them?

I think that we need to embrace our fears, the ones of which we are conscious and those of which we are not. If we embrace them I think we will be less imprisoned by them.

This is not the definitive post on the pro-argument for horror movies. Just a few thoughts to add to an earlier post. Read it here.

Sarah is bothered by CSI. I am not. I enjoy The Walking Dead. Watching it is one of my week's highlights. Not only am I not saying that watching it is bad for me; I am saying it is in some degree good for me. Death, suffering, fear, anger, revenge. Nasty things. Real things manifested in the figure of the zombie for me to come to grips with.

I do not believe that watching horror movies is anti-life. I believe it could be. I believe revelling in it could be, and probably is, for some. I think Sarah knows her limits. I know mine too. Mine do not coincide with her's.

I think it is a mistake, therefore, to do what many Catholics do when they write on this subject, and that is to equate fear with evil. I think these people need to realize that they are motivated by fear, not reason, and judge with that realization in mind.

I do not watch every horror movie. I do not watch things that in any way glorify evil, Satanism, etc. But fear itself is not evil any more than sadness is. Watching sad or depressing movies could be just as morally problematic. Augustine thought so. Maybe I'll write about that next time!


  1. I think that there are a lot of factors at play here. One perhaps is the male-female dichotomy. I think that the receptivity of the female puts us at a particular disadvantage when it comes to horror flicks. Also, women know far better than men the fear factor on a personal level. For example, you jog at night enjoying the quiet, the night air, the dark, your thoughts. I would have to sprint at night in order to escape the conjurings of my mind inspired by both movies and real life experiences. Women have more to be afraid of on a rape-murder-torture level (outside the confines of war). That said, my dad is completely unable to watch gruesome movies as he (like I) is particularly susceptible to visual imagery - it just sticks with us and never goes away.

  2. I definitely think you are right. I guess I could make a joke about your dad here, but I am too nice!