Scary Rants Vol. 1 : Processing the Beauty of Untidiness in the Horrific Arts

7:50 AM – Sitting in first final at the semester’s end. These younguns will grieve to know I am not on the Facetube. Today marks our goodbye.

***

DISCLAIMER: What follows is the beginning of something that I need to write for myself. This may take awhile. And it may appear quite jagged, as unkempt and scraggled as my beard hairs beneath the top layer where the comb tooths actually reach. Three contextual notes for those who decide to engage further: 1.) I am a believer and participant in the Gospel of Jesus Christ; 2.) therefore, convinced that my battle is not against the seen but the unseen, and convinced that the tidiness of our reality must be shattered by the truth and awareness of our mortality, I believe the horror genre (especially when it’s comedic) is the Christian genre (check the classics); and 3.) I’m in the extreme minority of Gospel participants on that last note. I should also mention that, in my opinion, you can’t find a better Pansy-boy to poke fun at than Lucifer. I mean, why the hell not?

***

“I don’t mind if a person has no hope if he or she is sufficiently funny about the whole thing . . . In general, though, there’s no point in writing hopeless novels. We all know we’re going to die; what’s most important is the kind of men and women we are in the face of this.”  –  Anne Lamott

EXACTLY! But you can’t convince enough people this is worth consideration! I meet far too many people who are far too interested in keeping things neat and tidy and comfortable, which is fine except that there’s a whole sphere, entire chasms of the human experience that are no where near neat or tidy or comfortable. So what about those things? What about the unquotable, uneasily packaged bits? Those things don’t go away because we read or sing something that makes us feel better.

I love this thing Patton Oswalt (crap, I love Patton Oswalt) said recently about the Boston bombing:

“So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, ‘The good outnumber you, and we always will.'” – Oswalt

Yes, and this is a place where, sometimes, the church excels. Reaching out. Offering relief. Attending a season of blessings both tangible and intangible. I cannot fault and will not begrudge the church her efforts to extend healing when healing is necessary.

My concern (and beef) is that I’ve too often been told not to look into the darkness at all. Not to make eye contact with the Thing(s) that threaten(s). I’ve been reminded, many times, in reference to my viewing and reading and even my writing of horror that the Scriptures say

Set your mind on things above, and not on earthly things.

I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes.

Whatever things are just and pure and holy and not R-rated, think on these things.

For those who are pure, all things are pure; for those who are defiled, even they will get defiled in the splash zone of defilement.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the Sons of God.

These reminders from the Scriptures are often spouted to persuade preference of a safe distance from evil. A fleeing the Devil distance. An rejecting distance. An ignoring distance.

But isn’t the act of ignoring an active ignorance? Where’s the value in that? Where’s the strong mantel? Where’s the assurance that we will do bigger and better things than even He who called us? Where’s the rest in knowing we have already been called Sons of God? We do not fear the enemy or our enemies nearly as much as we fear the potentials of our own strength. To look at darkness and proclaim light. To look at defilement and speak purity. To look at devastation and bring peace. To look at death and laugh with joy. Is these not what we’ve been offered? Christianity is a joke because christians sell it so damn short.

Okay, I get it. You don’t like murder and monsters and power tools and possessions in your art. And I understand that you feel uncomfortable putting those things before your eyes. Sure, sure. Go with that. Make grand decisions based on those convictions. On those preferences. Because guess what: I’m not into your acoustic guitar and egg-shaker worship songs either, but you’re not gonna hear me railing them anti-praise.

And at the end of the day, I believe this is all we’re really arguing when it comes to art and horror: preference. You’ve decided that this thing makes you uncomfortable; therefore, it must make God unhappy. This is a very Western ideal: to shape and to assume God’s reality based on our reality. We laughed at our parents when they did the same thing with rock-n-roll and we had to throw away our Def Leppard cassettes because our Sunday school teaching mom said it was “too sensuous” for teenagers to sing about pouring sugar on each other. Man, we love to laugh at her for spiritually begruding Def freakin’ Leppard. I mean, how dangerous could those guys be? The drummer only had one arm!

So how does this apply to the entertainment factor of the horror genre and our Righteous consumption and creation and celebration thereof? Well, that’s a damn good question.

Advertisements

About Kiki Malone

Girding till the break of dawn.
This entry was posted in Bird By Bird, Fear and Trembling, Horror, Scary Rants, Stories and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Scary Rants Vol. 1 : Processing the Beauty of Untidiness in the Horrific Arts

  1. Chad says:

    ‘Preference’ seems to be the key word. I don’t read or view much (anything?) from the horror genre because I don’t tend to prefer that type of art or entertainment. This has little to nothing to do with my view of religion or concepts of light and darkness, righteousness and evil, spirit and matter. Or maybe it has everything to do with it.

    I tend to believe that these polarities don’t exist in the extremes as much as in the messy middle. I am as much light as darkness. Assigning a pejorative to one extreme of the spectrum (darkness=evil) seems silly to me. So, stories, movies, etc that tend to highlight the extremes: absolute evil v. absolute good, who’s wearing the black hat and who’s wearing the white, these I find boring and/or silly, or at least, I think I do. My foray into the genre is slight, because my preference is for art and entertainment that shows real folks who are both yin and yang, evil and good, beautiful and ugly, and the plot is the struggle between these two extremes, a dance in the middle.

    We believe in science and rationality, and yet we don’t too. We want magic, horror, and miracles. We like stories of salvation and we like stories where evil is punished and destroyed, yet in our lived lives we search–sometimes in vain–for magic and salvation. Evil goes unpunished even as we identify particular people and things as evil and attempt to punish and destroy (Boston bombers?).

    Anyhoo. Thanks, Kiki, for another thought provoking post.

    • Kiki Malone says:

      “My foray into the genre is slight, because my preference is for art and entertainment that shows real folks who are both yin and yang, evil and good, beautiful and ugly, and the plot is the struggle between these two extremes, a dance in the middle.”

      And this is what I think horror can do well. Even in the middle of its extremes, there is still the middle. The blur. The uncloaking of unlikely heroes, of unlit righteousness, of intuitive self-sacrifice and tiny salvations that make the moment holier than intentional giant gestures. The blur is what I’m interested in as well, but in my intake and output of “dark” matters.

      I also am not as interested in the polarities. I think this is where the hang-up exists for many participants: we want this or that, when in actuality we reside somewhere in between. This placement, I think, is what gives us permission – as Jesus Christ or Patton Oswalt charged – to look in either polar direction and speak new realities. THAT right there is what I’m most interested in – the vantage point from dead center.

      But, really? You don’t like an old fashion Good Vs. Evil story? Superman? Avengers? Iron Man? Rocky Balboa vs. Clubber Lange? Dude, I don’t know what to say.

  2. I sorta think we’ve connected before via Seth Haines but let there no longer be any mediator between Malone and Blase. I’m the first born son of a southern baptist preacher so I’ve heard all those verses a kabillion times. I had to table some of them when I sat behind Misty Beford in Algebra class because, good god talk about the splash zone, she smelled of Estee Lauder and listened to Duran Duran on her walkman…anyway, I’m glad you’re writing out your thoughts re: this genre. You’re on to something with that ‘unlit righteousness’ and ‘tiny salvations’ thinking…keep going, I’m listening.

    • Kiki Malone says:

      I had a Mrs. Bedford for Freshmen English. Not sure what that scent was, but she turned our heads everytime she walked by. Good Lord!

      Thanks for listening and voting towards the “on to something” side. This was never a mantle I intended to defend. I just happened to land on really like an art for that really gives people the heebie-jeebies for multiple reasons. As far as I can tell, I’m just getting this thing started.

  3. I’m the first born son of a southern baptist preacher so I’ve heard all those verses a kabillion; they’re good, but dangerous in the wrong hands. I had to put most of the ‘pure’ stuff on hold when I started sitting behind Misty Bedford in Algebra class, good god talk about the splash zone, she smelled of Estee Lauder and listened to Duran Duran on her walkman…I digress. Anyway, I’m glad you’re wrestling your thoughts out re: this genre. My 16yr old son and I have had some very tender moments together on Sunday evenings being strangely warmed by the ‘unlit righteousness’ of The Walking Dead. Keep writing, I’m listening.

    • Kiki Malone says:

      I’m half way through the Netflix original series, HEMLOCK GROVE. It’s not bad. Did a binge marathon of AMERICAN HORROR STORY Season One this past Spring. That stuff was creepy and jacked and wonderful. I was cross-eyed after two days of straight watching. Hoping to finally sit through Season Two of WALKING DEAD this summer. I’ve heard it’s tasty.

  4. Hey, punt one of those comments. Thought I lost the first one, so I pulled a repeat. Damn.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s