Show notes episode 12 - Why people like to be scared by their media

  • Posted on: 23 October 2020
  • By: Michelle Brightwell

In this episode, Rob talks about his writing for genre film magazines over the last decade, his personal history with the horror genre, and the history of the genre itself. Michelle discusses how the brain works while watching a horror movie and why people enjoy the genre as a whole.

You can find some of Rob’s writing this month in the Halloween special edition of Rue Morgue magazine (The cover story, actually), and other places around the web.

The human brain is still wired like it was 30,000 years ago, and we still have our automated processes and our brains still function in the same way that they did when we were hunter-gatherers. So, our brains are wired to pay attention to the anomalies, and a scary movie can provide that outlet. We also need outlets for our fears and anxieties, and the horror genre at its inception was invented for people to come to terms with a fear about something in the world – take Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein for example. She wrote that story as a way to deal with the fears society was having about advances in science at the time. The Universal Monster Movies were made as metaphor for the ways that humans were acting monstrously towards each other in the world wars. After the Second World War and during the cold war, the horror genre focused on how science and warfare would affect people and society as a whole. And then, after Vietnam and the violence of the 60s and 70s in the United States, we saw the birth of the slasher movie to help deal with the violent imagery that was so common in the nightly news.

George Romero, creator of the Night of the Living Dead movie and series, wrote Night of the Living Dead as social commentary. The slasher flicks that we all think of – Friday the 13th, Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street were commentaries on the way society felt about teenagers and their behavior. If you watch modern examples of horror, Get Out, Midsommar, Us, Mother, and it’s clear what horrifying thing about society they’re trying to help people work through.

Let us know what you think about the topics we discussed this week – we would love to hear from you. You can comment on our posts on library social media or you can leave us a voice message through Anchor! Do you have a topic you would like to hear us talk about, or feedback on something we said?

Thank you for listening – and remember. Don’t trust robots.