CHARLIE BRIGDEN IS A WRITER AND JOURNALIST BASED IN SOUTH WALES WHO SPECIALISES IN FILM AND FILM MUSIC WRITING. HE HAS A REPUTATION FOR AN INCISIVELY ANALYTIC AND ENTERTAINING STYLE AND CAN BE FOUND AT SUCH PLACES AS THE QUIETUS AND ROGER EBERT AS WELL AS WORKING FOR CLIENTS LIKE MONDO AND INDICATOR.

Calm Your Tits, Horrorhounds

It’s a day that ends in a y, so of course horror fans are pissed off at something, and this time their ire is directed towards something that might even be justifiably annoying. Popular website Vice, which covers all kinds of bizarre things from fashion to fucking, published an article about the recent slasher film “Happy Death Day 2U” that got horror knickers in a twist mainly because of its headline, which purports that the film “is the first slasher film to deal with grief”. Now I understand what you’re thinking so put the bat down and actually pay attention.

The first thing that horror fans seem to have done is just read the headline. This is a royally stupid thing to do online and anyone who’s spent more than a week on social media knows this. You see, the actual article states it “might be”. Might be. Which is a lot less definite than the headline, and as anyone who has ever worked in journalism understands, the author of the article is not always the author of the headline. I wrote a piece just two weeks ago that now has a different headline than what I had written. So there are several things at play here; the headline, the general knowledge and researching of the author of the piece, and the insecurity of the horror community.

The headline is dumb and should not have written as definite, there is no doubt about that. And while the author eventually put his point about “Happy Death Day 2U” across, a lot of context is missing from the piece that would have avoided most of this furore. Both the author and sub-editor/editor are at fault for this, as someone should have picked up that a bit more context and displaying of research would have been very useful. But from this situation comes something very ugly, something the toxic fandoms of recent times have used as a badge of honour, and it’s something we need to avoid.

Firstly, as I said before, the horror community is insecure as fuck about the genre and how it is treated in “the mainstream”. Of course, since the days of the Universal pictures horror has been treated as a second-class cinema citizen, despite the consistent box office results the genre has shown. Genre snobbery is something that exists, and something horror fans have been used to - like science fiction and fantasy fans and even western fans - and this has been interpreted through a lack of critical respect and awards from bodies like AMPAS, although the former has changed a great deal. But from this Vice mess, many horror fans have piped up, as they have before with the Vanity Fair article recently, and many other times, and said that only horror fans should write about horror.

This is called gatekeeping, and it is a very bad thing amongst criticism and fandom as a whole. This is the same thing as Star Wars fans saying “fans who like the new films are not true fans” and DC fans saying “only Zack Snyder fans are true DC fans”. Obviously, this is imbecilic bullshit. Obviously this is a touchy subject, and horror fans are understandably very defensive of the genre. But when you turn around and say “you are not allowed to do this because you are not us,” that is a terrible thing to do and frankly it makes you sound like a prick. Just going beyond the idiocy for a moment, the idea horror criticism should be kept amongst fans would mean a lot of important writing would be discarded and jettisoned into the void. A lot of critics I know like horror films a lot without putting themselves across as a “fan”. And it is important for any genre to take notice of voices outside that area, who can see the genre in positive and negative lights that fans may not be able to see.

Also, what is a horror fan? Do you have to have T-shirts? Reel of names of obscure movies? Have a tattoo of Lucio Fulci or Coffin Joe? Be able to recite any of Paul Naschy’s Waldimir Daninsky films? It’s bullshit, and the “fan” term has been used everywhere from sports to music to exclude other people for no good reason other than they are deemed unworthy. And it’s very uncomfortable to see social media pile-ons over these things, where fans seem to take sides to the point where the horror community comes across as an exclusionary and very ugly clique. Horror fans usually have a good reputation for being good people, welcoming and opening, so just knock it off. This shit is for children. You want to make this into an actual debate? Write about it, write what you think should be included, and use that as a springboard for discussion.

Stop being children.

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