Why Do We Like Violence in Our Horror?
One classic debate is always what makes a good horror story. Some tales focus almost entirely on the psyche, while others are gruesome bloodbaths with more guts than plot. Then, there are horror tales that seem to strike a balance between wit and gore.
Today I'll explore why it is some of us might enjoy a little violence in our horror, or anything for that matter, whether it's an action flick or even a video game.
Yale psychologist Paul Bloom points out,
It’s not that we enjoy zombie films because we need to prepare for the zombie uprising. We don’t have to plan for what to do if we accidentally kill our fathers or marry our mothers. But even these exotic cases serve as useful practice for bad times, exercising our psyches for when life goes to hell. From this perspective, it’s not the zombies that make film so compelling, it is that the theme of zombies is a clever way to frame stories about being attacked by strangers and betrayed by those we love.
Essentially, simulated horrors prepare us to deal with real-life stressors.
Studies have shown that the human mind is happiest when it is allowed to wander. In fact, the average person spends around 30% of the time spacing out.'
Consider the movies. Films with over-the-top horrific or violence sequences absorb some viewers and completely remove them from reality for a moment, so they can step away from all of life's stresses. In the films, they are still seeing betrayal, trust, and all hell break loose, (which goes back to the practice aspect) but for the most part, the viewers are relaxing. The extremism signals that they are not seeing reality.
And what they are seeing, is akin to the way the mind wanders. While the average person sometimes thinks about doing the dishes or mowing the yard while they are at work, they also often fall into extremes. They dream of getting promoted, falling in love, and moving into the big house. They fantasize about maybe one day getting a better job. Maybe they think about how something at home is falling apart, or how so-and-so might be distrustful. The mind wanders, and it's not always for the best.
In short, that's why I believe we like a little violence in our horror and fiction. Subconsciously, we can sit back and absorb tales of trust & betrayal, and on the surface we can let our minds escape and wander. You can always let me know what you think in the comments.
YOU MIGHT ALSO ENJOY:
Fear, focus, and the future. C.M. Humphries talks about writing, horror, and whatever.