In Strolls The Boogeyman

I think that this is part of my yearly ritual on the lead up to Halloween. My yearly missive about haunts and haunted houses and the like. I suppose because it’s something I am passionate about and also something I feel knowledgeable enough to speak to.

Anyone that loves Halloween knows about haunted houses, even if you don’t like them, and a lot of folks don’t, people KNOW they exist. Haunts are part of a sort of subculture to Halloween, which is its own subculture of horror. Haunters are part carny, part vaudevillian, and part outpatient. You have to be a little off to put the time and energy into creating and working at something made just to scare the sense out of someone. Saying that though, there is an art to it. Like everything else, you can do it, or you can do it ‘right’. In this case you can either bring passion or you can mail it in.

Continue reading “In Strolls The Boogeyman”

Embracing the Horror

This is one of those topics that I write about from time to time because it ceases to amaze me how utterly stupid and narrow people can be when it comes to the horror genre.

I mean, let’s be straight honest here for a moment, there are biases against EVERY genre, people hate musicals, and dramas, and romances, and comedies, and on and on because people are people and for some reason you can’t just dislike something but have to actively and aggressively hate it these days. It’s the troll mentality of our culture. The mentality that hates grays and insists on living in black or white.

Love.

Hate.

Whatever.

What makes me laugh, consistently laugh, are the directors, and writers (and I am sure other artists say the same mess but I thankfully don’t see it) who go to great pains to insist that their work, whatever it is, isn’t horror. Heavens to Betsy no. It’s a THRILLER. Or GOTHIC. Or SUPERNATURAL. Or whatever. All manner of euphemisms to get around saying something is horrific. And sure, not everything IS horror, and horror isn’t the be-all end-all but it’s the audacity of how hard people will work not to just say that a film is SCARY.

The irony is that it shows how little these people know about horror and how vast the genre is. These creators assume that horror is a man in a mask brutalizing young women. They assume that horror is nudity and gore and loud music. They assume all of the worst of the genre and forget that three are masters that can create  the most devlish art with just sound and shadows or artists that can create a symphony in blood soaked halls. The people that beg off any suggest that their creation could be seen as MERELY horror are also the people who knew darn well what they were doing and should their work be a crossover hit then they’ll say, well, sure, it’s horrific but I wouldn’t say it was HORROR. They’ll lazy embrace the benefits so long as they don’t have to get their hands dirty. Heaven forbid.

These are people who use the genre for their gain but decry it when interviewed.

Much like comedy is more than fart jokes, horror is more than scantily clad co-eds being slaughtered by a maniac. It is lazy to see the most obvious examples of something and to use that as your basis for why your work isn’t like that. If it isn’t then it isn’t. Do your thing. But we tend to know what we’re making and whether what we are making is like something or not or fits into a box. If you get put into a box then you can spend your time fighting your way free or you can push the boundaries of that box outward and find the good works that yours is like. Lean into it.

The more you fight to say your work ISN’T like something then the more time you are spending not talking about why your work even matters. And honestly, most art embraces lots of aspects of humanity in order to be memorable. A comedy can be tragic. A romance can be scary. The best art sees the whole picture and can say more than one thing.

If you work harder to do that, to create work that could fall into many slots, that can speak to more than one person or…you can just spend your time crying about how people think your work is something you don’t like and tick off the hours mopping up that spilt milk.

Shade deployed.

…c…

Who We Stand With And What We Stand For

Fandom is a strange sort of magic. Strangers united under the same umbrella, bound by a love of things that are not always as physical as they are ethereal. Bound by things that the mainstream once deemed as frivolous and wasteful but which found their way into the mainstream. Suddenly the mainstream embraced things they once made laughed at. Suddenly the mainstream was learning about superheroes, and space operas and video game characters. Suddenly the mainstream knew about all sorts of minutia that would make some old school fans’ heads spin.

And maybe it was when it all went mainstream that fandom changed.

Maybe it was when it wasn’t all a secret, a club, a love that was shared by just a few that things started to spin out of control. Maybe it was that now that more eyes were on things, that more people were into things that that world of fandom expanded, that the plates moved and what was once one continent fractured and became many. Suddenly there were more voices and more ideas and more people who wanted to see themselves reflected in these fandoms that they had just discovered. Maybe it was that.

Or maybe it was that the fans just didn’t recognize one another anymore and in that they didn’t recognize themselves.

And here we are, with fandom a prism that of late is showing more of its nastier side than anything else.

And it is nasty.

I suppose it always was.

Any time you get passionate people together you will find a bedrock of meanness and nastiness because people have to be right, even if it’s just for the sake of being right.

Fandom is a vast chocolate bunny with nothing inside.

Well, but that isn’t true.

There’s nothing unless we put something there.

Right?

Right.

We have been watching fandom fall for a good many years now. Watched as the bullies came in. Watched as the molesters came in. Watched as the racists and sexists came in. We watched as they started trying to mold the culture of gaming and comics and sci-fi and other fandoms to their small interests so it better reflected their tiny world.

Too many of us watched and never stopped them.

And you had franchises bend to the will of these trolls. Reshaping things so that all fandoms mattered and that those who had been watching from the sidelines, who had finally started to see themselves reflected in these fandoms were told that they didn’t matter, that they should accept what they got, and if they didn’t like it then they can get the hell out.

Now, ah, now you have perhaps the cherry on the top of it all as San Diego Comic Con, the granddaddy of the comic conventions, changed the game. There’s been a sort of, dare I say ‘gentleman’s agreement’ that the phrase ‘comic con’ was just part of the language of the culture. Con meant convention. A comic con was a comics focused convention. Easy. With so many conventions now though the brand identity that San Diego felt it was owed was suddenly in question. Chicago and New York suddenly had large comic conventions and other ones were popping up as well, both large and small. A word that many attributed to the San Diego show had been taken as the buzzword for all conventions. San Diego wasn’t THE comic con now they were A comic con. Losing the luster of something they felt they had started the convention did what they felt they had to – they claimed ownership of the name ‘comic con’ and thus they betrayed the very fans they claim to serve. They betrayed the very culture they helped to create.

San Diego Comic Con’s need to protect their turf, as they seemed to look at it, slit the throat of decades of fandom.

It is the symbol of the times.

A cynical move done to protect the moment and not the culture.

There’s an aspect of fandom that has always been freewheeling and loose. Based on fans doing it with fans and for fans. Even as the shows got bigger the fans were at the heart of it all. Once the corporations got involved, as they inevitably do, everything changed.

And here we are. We find we have sworn our allegiances to companies and corporations and not to the ideas that impassioned us to begin with. We are more interested in the brand, the license, the tag than we are in one another and in celebrating our fandom. We have lost sight of the stories and films and people that inspired our passion. We have gotten caught up in the nonsense that other fans and companies have created. Here’s a secret – ANYONE can create a fan festiva.

ANYONE.

I know because I did it.

Will it be like Chicago, or New York, or San Diego, or any other big show?

Nope.

And it doesn’t have to be like those.

At all.

It started as a celebration of fans and fandom.

It can be about it again.

We can start celebrating ourselves and our passions again.

We can cheer for one another and for people who realize how impactful fandom is.

We don’t need celebrities or big shows.

We don’t need corporate validation.
We need our inspirations, our passion, and each other.

That’s it.

We have watched as the worst of us have taken over, as the corporations have taken over, and we have let self-appointed tastemakers decide what is good, cool, and worthy.

It’s time we took our fandoms back and took it back to being about dreams and dreamers and the excitement that unites those two factions.

It’s cool if you came for the comics, or the movies, or the costumes, or the stars, or whatever and as long as you celebrate what you love, then awesome. That’s what it’s about and there’s room for you at the table, no matter what the hardcore old schoolers say. If you come with hate or with ulterior motives then friend, that’s fuel that’ll burn out real fast and you’re gonna plummet to the ground like every con and fake and the rest of us will still be here, shining from the joy that only magic can bring, manmade or otherwise.

Fandom is ours and if we let someone take it from us then that’s on us.

That’s on us.

…c…