Blood & Guts

The other day I saw a post on Geekologie about ‘Gory Garters’:

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At first I thought ‘Oooh’; perhaps because I know its not real, and because there’s a preset in my brain that sees the provocatively gory as interesting. But it’s not just me that thinks this. As I’ve mentioned before in my previous post, visceral monstrosity sells. Zombies tearing chunks out of humans, werewolves ripping humans to pieces, the gory scenes in True Blood where blood gushes freely…I’m seeing a pattern here.

There’s something inherently self-destructive yet power-hungry about our fascination with blood and guts. We love to watch these monsters tear us apart – it is truly fantasy at its most perverse. But…the element of power is there too. These monsters are descended from ordinary and mundane humans; by participating in the spectacle (watching the show where flesh becomes pretty ribbons…) we are toying with our own ideas about mortality, relishing the tangibility of our survival. Because whilst on screen, and in clubs, and every Halloween we may dress up in outsides splashed with blood and daubed with the gory touches of the monstrous, we are playing god. Creating an alternative universe where we are destructive, bloody, primitive  and immortal.

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But this isn’t how it always was, or so we think from the evidence presented to us – monster fiction relied on the implication of terror to define the monstrous rather than the way we do it now. It is also, notably, far more present in the books and films coming from across the Atlantic. At the right level, it highlights the fragile limits of the human body. Overdo it and it’s merely a hedonistic immersion into the territory of what has become banal. One of the main criticisms of the difference between the UK and the US version of Being Human was that the US version made everything too obvious, so much so that it was tedious.

Gore can be tedious.

Especially if it’s lost the power to shock – it’s no longer just the staple of the monstrous but a pre-requisite for slasher flicks.

It evidently still has the power to shock some people, otherwise it wouldn’t still be pulling in crowds, nor would the monsters that produce the most blood….

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a sucker for gore-filled monster films as much as the next person, but bringing back terror through implication might be worth while. But I guess it’s not as immediate, and with our attention spans all seemingly getting shorter, and our control over content getting larger, I don’t see it happening any time soon.

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2 thoughts on “Blood & Guts

  1. Ah, so these are the gory garters you mentioned! I approve.

    Completely agree with regards to the comment about less being more. This is very true with horror in general, I think; the unknown monster that is at the edge of our vision is inherently more frightening than the defined monster in plain sight. Japanese cinema certainly understands this, and it’s a part of why their horror cinema is much scarier and disturbing than its Hollywood counterpart in general. Selective presentation is a powerful tool.

  2. The initial image of the Gory Garters, with an archetypal willowy young white woman posing in said garters, got me thinking: is there a possible tying in of this more “obvious”, visual use of horror with continuing misogyny in popular media? Visceral violent imagery certainly has the potential to be tied in with rape culture, and I understand slasher movies consistently feature female characters with little personality and not much more clothing. (This perhaps ties in at least as much with the short-attention-span problem you refer to, mind.)

    I put this thought up at least partly with the expectation of it being torn down like a zombie “tears chunks out of humans”…

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