Monday, September 16, 2013

Reticula, you hypocrite!

(Note: this post has been edited after publication.)

Tonight I wanted to answer Grendela Borowitz's comment on last night's post about working on a new horror film with Billy Montana. Here's the comment: "I see a real disconnect in your last two posts. First you raise funds for Artemis. A very worthy cause. Then you help produce "horror" films that glorify violence against women. Personally I find these films reprehensibly disgusting, but that's just me. How do you explain this?"

I think it's a fair question. I don't mind being called out on what Ms. Borowitz's perception of my hypocrisy. And I did want to give the question serious consideration, but the fact is, I'm not an expert on horror nor on misogyny in the genre. So I put the question to my Facebook friends. One, Tim Waggoner (Supernatural: Carved in Flesh [Dean!] and Bone Whispers: A Collection of Short Fiction), I would call an expert on horror, but others really know their shit too.
I've received around 40 meaty, thoughtful comments so far. Tim posted his comment on his Facebook and asked for discussion, and there are close to 80 comments there. (What can I say about that discrepancy? Tim's a popular guy with over 4600 friends. I have .... fewer.)

I'm feeling a little overwhelmed at the idea of consolidating all of those comments, and I certainly can't share them all. But I will share a few that are most relevant to Ms. B's question.

First though, I want to address the personal side of the question, which is how I can reconcile my involvement in both Artemis Center and a horror film. And I have to say, the first problem with the question is the assumption that this film, and all horror, glorifies violence against women. I won't deny that the horror genre is full of violence, but I can't agree that it "glorifies" horror against women. In other words, it's difficult for me to answer the question when I don't agree with the rhetoric.

But let me share 4 pieces of information that was left out in last night's post, mostly because I just thought it was a funny message and didn't dissect it or consider how others might do so.

1. We didn't actually do the shoot. Our young star told her mom she didn't want to do it after she realized how "bloody" it would be, and Billy shut it down. He will probably even cancel the production completely.

2. A boy could have played the part Jessica was supposed to play, and it wouldn't have changed the story a bit. The story wasn't about violence against women or girls, although it did portray that as long as a girl played that part. Billy asked Jessica's brother to participate too, but he's not comfortable performing and he declined. However, if a boy of the appropriate age stepped up to do the project, Billy would use him in the film.

3. I can't give away the story, because it belongs to Billy. But I can say that the concept has nothing to do with violence against women. The concept is about how some people love their dogs like children to a pathological degree, and being a horror flick, it takes that puppy love way over the top. Violence against women has nothing to do with it. And in fact, the only person performing violent acts is a woman, who is, I assure you, not violent in real life.

4. Medicine, the last film I worked on with Billy, also had a female antagonist, and all the violence was against men. I'm not condoning real violence, but every story has tension, and horror is a genre that demands violence. If you don't like horror, that's OK. It scares me too much to watch it (although I'm huge fan of Stephen King because the guy can really write). I'm bothered by the gore, and I have triggers from my childhood. But you won't often see horror without violence. The whole point of horror in its purest form is to examine those things the terrify us.

So how can I work on a horror movie and still abhor real-life violence? I'm not doing it for the subject matter of the movie. I'm doing it because I really like and care about the other people I'm working with, and I enjoy meeting and working with new people too. I want to do creative projects with them. So if Billy's making a horror movie, and he asks me to help out, I do it if I've got the time. He prefers to make comedies and dramas, and if he asks me to work on those, I'll do that too.

Also, seeing how various effects are produced is fascinating and often hilarious. This is an unfamiliar medium and genre for me. I'm doing it for the experience more than anything.

I do lots of things just for the experience, and I write about most of those things.

I have not worked on any films that "glorify violence against women." Nor would I. If I thought Billy was doing that, I'd be the first to call him out on it, and I probably wouldn't be the only one.

And guess what? I'm sure he would listen to me. He's not the kind of guy who would want to do that either.

I have to apologize that I can't finish this post tonight. I'll consolidate the Facebook responses tomorrow and continue then.

Ms. Borowitz, please let me know if I haven't answered your question fully.

To be continued ....... 


  1. Quite satisfactory. Thanks. And note, I did not call you a hypocrite. Just confused and looking for clarification.

    I don't see them, but I know people who do, and these locally produced horror films just look awful. Case in point:

    I am sickened by the image of that girl with a bloody face and gag. I do believe that many who watch these films really get off on that.

    Or that Texas truck decal of a woman bound and gagged. Sick.

    I do look forward to your consolidation of Facebook posts from the boys who defend their hobby.

    1. True, you didn't call me a hypocrite, but that's the question I had to ask myself: was I being a hypocrite. The word kind of got stuck in my mind. I understand your confusion, and if I knew more about horror, of if I'd given my participation much thought, I would have been able to answer quickly and concisely. Obviously your question touched a nerve or ignited a spark of interest for a lot of people.

      In any case, I agree with you. I'm extremely sensitive to gory images. My kids will often recommend that I NOT see a particular movie, because they know I will potentially be disturbed for days. To be honest, I'm not going to watch the video you shared because I really don't like that feeling.

      I've also been open -- and laughed at myself -- about my reaction to a couple of the scenes in Medicine. Even though I watched them being filmed, I still get creeped out when I watch the finished product. But I do have fun participating in the process.