What is he, holding a fart?
Does this image scare you? No, of course not. Why would it?
Let's break it down: We've got some teenage Christian Bale staring at you with his over-dilated eyes, lipstick, and far to much powder. As a matter of fact, you probably like him.
There lies the problem.
Horror used to be one of the strongest genres in fiction, yet it has become the most laughable in many literary eyes. You probably know why. It's not scary.
Yes, horror fiction still exists - go see the YA section of any book showroom and you might find it. For some reason, though, it has nothing to do with the "stuff" that made horror horror in the first place.
Everyone wants to be "edgy" now by coming up with different ways to lure a reader into buying a book, and this is probably a good endeavor. No one wants to read the same material over and over. The problem is, people have gotten the wrong idea about horror over time.
With this search for constantly "unqiue" approaches to the grotesque, many writers have become gimmicky, rather than scary. There's a demand for likable characters, as seen in the Twilight saga and so on. This isn't a slam on Meyer's sexless erotica, but the saga proves a point.
Publishers and writers have fallen in love with this notion of likable characters, unseen in horror novels before. No shit they were never seen before, because no one thought them scary.
How is it, one of the most lucrative and well-watched genres in film - and once literature - has become completely abandoned in writing? Film is always pushing for a new kind of scary, while fiction wants you to . . . like horror?
Bram Stoker really didn't give a damn if people liked Dracula. Stephen King didn't want you to like the fear creature in It. The characters were meant to scare you. Why are all these people hugging vampires? Fucking run!
Many writers now avoid monsters out of the fear of being called cliche. Maybe I'm out of touch and alone on this one, but I don't really care what it is that scares me so long as I need a new pair of boxers when I'm done.
There are countless horror writers out there who have be shunned for their unlikable protagonists or anti-heroes. Apparently only Batman can be an anti-hero, but that's because he is good on some pseudo-philosophical level.
I mean, do we want to see Dr. Jerkll pursuing a more practical form of medicine? Does Dr. Frankenstein seem unethical even next to Dr. House? Maybe we should justify Hannibal Lecter while we're at it. You know, Freddy Krueger should wear a nice polo and only kill people who deserve it. Or what if we agreed with John Torrence that his wife was a real bitch in The Shining.
Even better, maybe all killer sex in Endless Night by Richard Laymon should be strictly consensual. Whatever the publishing world is calling "scary" or "edgy" isn't working for me. What happens when we reach a point in which the murderer weapon was legitimately obtained by the killer and only used on people we want to see die? Hopefully the world doesn't see more of The Happening.
I can't define horror, I'll admit that. But I know it's a genre that made me stay up night, turning each page with a nervous twitch, and then wishing for someone to cuddle with at then end. I need a book that convinces me I need a crucifix above my bed and one in my pocket at all times. Does horror genre must have it's balls painted in camouflage?
Fear, focus, and the future. C.M. Humphries talks about writing, horror, and whatever.