Horror’s Profound Empathy, Tarot Del Toro And MORE!
In this Issue:
- Horror History: Horror’s Profound Empathy
- Image of the Week: Surrealistic Terror
- Tiny Bites – This Week’s Best Horror Headlines
- Things We Love: Tarot Del Toro
- Hey, That’s Us! – Shudder in the News
Horror’s Profound Empathy
What is it about horror as a genre that can lead to increased empathy for others? Over time, horror has transitioned between being a source of entertainment and a learning tool that teaches us about the privileges we take for granted. For a couple of hours, the character’s terror becomes our own, making space to engage with different backgrounds and experiences than our own. There are specific terrors I fail to consider in the real world; broken street lamps don’t give me pause; footsteps from behind me aren’t a reason to turn keys into a makeshift weapon; a minor traffic violation or accidentally bumping into someone in a store won’t lead to a gun pointed in my face. I have it easier than most.
In Horror Noire, author and UCLA professor Tananarive Due shares experiencing Get Out with a primarily white audience. She talks about Chris’ (Daniel Kaluuya) daring and violent getaway from his captors. She tells of the crowd rooting on each step towards his escape, and the eruption of celebration when he succeeds and the credits roll. Finally, the empathy Black audiences have been asked to feel for white characters has been reciprocated. What could be remedied through representation has remained too elusive for too long.
If you were one of the members of that raucous crowd, I have a question: Moments before Chris hops into Rod’s security vehicle, what did you feel? I bet the moment red and blue lights flashed across the screen the bottom dropped out of your stomach. We know how this scene plays out. We’re conditioned to expect tragedy. We’re holding our collective breath, only to have the air rush out in a whoosh of relief, followed by cheers and laughter.
Now is the time to transform that euphoria into hard work.
Empathy demands that we ask ourselves what we take for granted that sends others into a spiral of panic. It insists on digging even deeper and asking how we’ve contributed to that environment of hostility and what we can do to tear it down and rebuild it so it works for everybody.
At the same time, making room for Black voices, Brown voices, Queer voices, and those of other marginalized groups allows audiences an opportunity to see themselves reflected on screen or on the page. It reminds members of those communities that they don’t suffer alone, that their pain is real, and that their voices will not go unheard.
There will always be those that decry the mix of politics, culture, and horror as nothing more than a Soros-funded SJW plot to ruin entertainment. They’ll pine for times when politics weren’t so explicit, believing that John Carpenter made a popcorn flick about aliens instead of condemning Reagan-era greed and the political structure that demonized the poor and shoveled money into the hands of the wealthy (They Live). They’ll dismiss criticisms of underrepresentation, tokenism, and broad stereotypes that cater to the lowest common denominator as feeble attempts to score “woke points”, or bemoan that “everyone is just too sensitive nowadays.”
Of course you can appreciate works like Jennifer’s Body, The Babadook, the forthcoming Candyman, Revenge, Knife & Heart, Ganja & Hess, and many more as pure entertainment. Horror movies are fun. Twelve-year-old me watched Freddy’s Revenge scared out of his gourd only occasionally able to peer out from behind the sofa. He had zero clue about any of the subtext lurking just below the film’s surface.
If curiosity plateaus, then the real value of horror as an art form would be lost, along with the depth of riches it offers as a reward to those that want to dig deeper.
*Mike Snoonian is the cohost of The Pod & the Pendulum podcast and the upcoming Psychoanalysis: A Horror Therapy Podcast. He is a trained mental health professional and works as a therapist and school adjustment counselor.
IMAGE OF THE WEEK
This stunning piece from artist Dario Puggioni, I did not want to cross the river, is giving us major Daniel Isn’t Real vibes.
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HALLOWEEN KILLS, FRIDAY THE 13TH LAWSUITS AND MORE
Halloween Kills has been delayed until October 2021, but John Carpenter gave fans a sneak peek at the upcoming sequel with a new teaser.
Polygon ranked every film with “Night of the” in the title, including … Night of the Wererooster?
This in-depth article on the Friday the 13th lawsuits answers all your questions about what this means for the future of the franchise as well as Clive Barker’s suit to reclaim the rights to Hellraiser.
This article from The New York Times discusses Jaws’s real villain, and it isn’t Bruce the shark.
A new collection of scholarly essays, Jordan Peele’s Get Out: Political Horrorexamines how the film revolutionized the genre and its approach to societal issues.
A chilling trailer was released for the upcoming Jewish horror film, The Vigil.
The Guardian did a roundup of all the best recent sci-fi, fantasy, and horror literature you should be checking out.
Meanwhile, Tor.com listed all of the new horror and genre-bending literature available this month.
Men’s Health ranked 22 of the best horror heroines of all time, though they forgot to include the GOAT, Nancy Thompson.
Learn more about the tragic history of The Wolfman and werewolves in horror.
Condé Nast Traveller explores the calming qualities of foreign horror movies.
Don’t miss the upcoming Psychoanalysis: A Horror Therapy Podcast that will analyze the genre through a therapeutic lens.
Meanwhile, Mashable made a list of the 10 best podcasts for horror fans, including the amazing Faculty of Horror.
Add these 8 rare Indian horror movies to your watchlist this week.
The province of Quebec has released a new PSA to encourage citizens to wear masks, and while it doesn’t include Jason Voorhees, it’s definitely giving us chilling horror vibes.
THINGS WE LOVE
Tarot Del Toro
Artist Tomás Hijo has designed a gorgeous tarot deck inspired entirely by the work of Guillermo del Toro. It’s set to be released this September.