Can Horror movies be good for people?
The part from the readings that most interested me this week was from the article: Why We crave Horror movies by Stephen King. King starts the article out with the phrase: "I think that we are all mentally ill. In the preface to the article, King is quoted as saying that: "Underneath a frequently thin veneer of civilization, we all have fears, homicidal rages, and sexual desires". These, are baser urges which King calls "anticivilization emotions". The function of horror movies, King believed, is to "appeal to those dark elements within ourselves and therefore reduce their psychic energy. Thus purged of our negative impulses, we can go on to engage in positive feelings of love, friendship loyalty and kindness. Horror movies serve an important regulating function , defusing people's destructive urges and helping to maintain a society's psychic equilibrium".
The reason this Impacted me is that I hate horror moves. I have always been of the opinion that horror movies are terrible, and dark and that they only create more fear in our lives and it has never made sense to me why people like them. I still remember a scary movie I watched in high school almost ten years ago called The Uninvited. To this day I feel psychologically disturbed when I think about that movie. So When I first read this today I thought it was absolutely ridiculous. How could horror movies do anything but amplify the dark aspects within us and give us more murderous urges? I thought there was no way there could be any truth to what King was claiming.
However I had two conversations about it that changed my opinion. Before class started today, I asked Ciara what she thought about King's claim and she responded that she thought it was very valid. She could see how some people might be served in watching someone be murdered in a horror film since it would satisfy their curiosity enough that they wouldn't feel the need to do something like that in real life. I don't remember exactly what else she said but the conversation opened my mind up to the possibility that what King said could be true. Then after class I talked with a friend of mine and got her opinion on it. She said that she had done a presentation in high school about how Edgar Allen Poe believed the same thing, that to some degree, everyone really does have murderous urges (although some more than others) and that horror movies really can be a legitimate outlet for people to release those violent feelings and urges and then move on.
When my friend said it, it actually made a lot of sense to me. Although I can't really relate, since any violent thoughts I may have about people are so vague and unformed that I honestly am not sure if I have them, this may not be the case for other people. And for some of these people horror movies might really serve a good purpose in their lives. They might actually be good for them. In this sense I can relate to it; in the sense that I often watch movies (as I do with music) in order to amplify certain feelings like sadness so that I can more quickly process through feelings and move on. In the same way, I could see how a horror movie could amplify someone's murderous feelings and help them move on quicker.
What do you guys think though? Are horror movies a good thing because they "reduce the psychic energy" of our dark impulses? Or do you think it's more like my original thought? Are horror movies more of a bad thing because they're creating through amplification a murderous urge in someone that might not be there otherwise? Or does it depend on the person? Maybe in some it creates the urge and in others it helps them to reduce it. What do you think?