Posts Tagged ‘horror’

On Horror

February 18, 2009

The theory put forth by Kendall Walton and Alex Neill [in Berys Gaut’s article “The Paradox of Horror”] on why people may enjoy horror films and other experiences which provoke negative emotions is absolutely fascinating. It essentially separates the emotion from what it is actually happening, thus it is not the emotion which is negative but occurrence which prompted it. In the case of the death of a loved one, it is not that we are sorrowful because we feel sorrow, but rather because we have lost someone close to us. “That is, it’s the situations rather than the emotions which are distasteful or undesirable, which we (metaphorically?) describe as painful or unpleasant.” (Gaut, 323) The idea of separation of emotion and event is interesting in that it inherently questions the meaning of any emotion. Perhaps we have been conditioned to feel certain ways after certain events, through witnessing other people go through them or simply through pop culture, but who is to say that the emotions of sadness or grief are objectively the correct emotions to feel after an event like the loss of a loved one? Would it be unimaginable for someone to feel elation consistently associated with death if at a young age death was presented in a positive light instead of negative? Is our opinion of what is good/pleasant in life simply a matter of conditioning put on us by our culture and more closely peers and family rather than an objective realization? All of these are feasible, which puts us on notice to wonder why we feel that ways we do, and if that is the only way we should feel, or if there are other possibilities.

– George Stoichev