Pacifists and Horror Flicks

Despite the title, this isn’t just about watching scary movies or about nonviolence.  It’s about being incongruent.  Yes, I’m a pacifist who loves (certain) horror flicks. Fear and anticipation are a delicious elixir when one knows that they are, without a doubt, absolutely safe. I don’t like blood and gore, torture, or graphic scenes of violence but I love suspense.  The types of horror flicks that interest me, then, tend to be psychological thrillers. I like a little intellectual stimulation and moral ambiguity with my adrenaline. It’s rare to find a horror movie that combines these elements artistically so I don’t watch very many of them.

And yet there’s a part of me that is uncomfortable with this. I don’t always even like to eat meat because  some animal – a cow, a chicken, a pig, a fish, some shrimp, occasionally a deer- had to die in order for me to eat that particular meal. I can’t stand the sight of someone else in pain  in real life, but the threat of it onscreen sometimes is a good thing for a plot. How do I justify these conflicting beliefs? Well, I don’t know that I ever have. I’ll often go a year or so between scary movies because I’m not sure how to, on the one hand, feel just a little guilty for eating meat when I willingly watch movies or TV shows that glorify violent responses to conflict.

The only real defence I can muster of the irregularities in my beliefs and actions in this regard is that stories aren’t real. If someone was actually being chased down the street by a knife-wielding fiend, if the dead really were restless, if aliens actually were on the warpath, I’d protect as many people as possible. Or maybe I’d run and hide with everyone else who doesn’t have super-strenght or a firearm. But I definitely wouldn’t think of it as entertainment in the even most embryonic sense of the term.

So, this is my half-formed thought of the day. What do you think?

0 Responses to Pacifists and Horror Flicks

  1. I don’t like horror flicks at all.

    However, as a pacifist, some of my favorite movies contain violence and bloodshed. I don’t go for those with gratuitous violence, but, if it flows with plot, then I’m okay with it. Two such movies that readily come to mind are “Dances With Wolves” and “The Last Samurai”.

    • Dances With Wolves was one of my favourite movies as a kid!

      I agree that some stories may need (or at least be well-equipped to hand) a certain level of violence. If it’s folded well into the plot and has a purpose I generally don’t mind it.

  2. I don’t like horror flicks at all.

    However, as a pacifist, some of my favorite movies contain violence and bloodshed. I don’t go for those with gratuitous violence, but, if it flows with plot, then I’m okay with it. Two such movies that readily come to mind are “Dances With Wolves” and “The Last Samurai”.

    • Dances With Wolves was one of my favourite movies as a kid!

      I agree that some stories may need (or at least be well-equipped to hand) a certain level of violence. If it’s folded well into the plot and has a purpose I generally don’t mind it.