Enjoying Horror Research

1. Fink, L. (2009). Horror movies: Why people love them. LiveScience. Retrieved May 6, 2010, from http://www.livescience.com/culture/091106-bts-horror-movies.html

Analyze the issues raised by your sources in comparison to the issues raised in the readings. Be sure to include at least one quote from the readings, for each article, to support your analysis.

The first article was called Horror Movies: Why People Love Them. As you might be able to guess from the name, it asks the question of why people pay money to watch a movie that many consider repulsive and horrifying. One reason is because of the desired effect of the movie. People want to be frightened, otherwise they wouldn’t do it twice. Jeffrey Goldstein, a professor of social and organizational psychology at the University of Utrecht says, “You choose your entertainment because you want it to affect you”. People who watch horror movies want the movie to frighten them. Some other reasons mentioned as to why we put ourselves through this kind of horror is enjoying the adrenaline rush, being distracted from mundane life, vicariously thumbing our noses at social norms, and enjoying a voyeuristic glimpse of the horrific from a safe distance. It is important to note that people have the ability to pay attention to the movie as much or as little as they want, thus controlling what effect it has on them. The article also explains that fear is an emotion derived from deep-seeded evolutionary factors. This may explain why it is hard for us to turn off emotions once those emotions have been aroused. That is why people may get so eager to turn it back on again, and keep watching.

In the Paradox of Horror article by Berys Gaut, he explains the curiosity factor that draws us to watch scary movies. Gaut explains, “Moreover, because we know that the monsters are only fictional, the fear and disgust they arouse in use are muted in comparison with what they would be if we were to meet such monsters in real life, which allows the pleasures of curiosity more easily to outweigh the displeasures of fear and disgust” (P. 296). This goes along with the idea from the first article that one is able to enjoy a glimpse of the horror from a safe distance. Another point Gaut makes is how successful the producers have become in achieving the effect or fear and disgust in the audience. These movies are for entertainments sake, and producers want to provide the audience with enjoyable experiences. Gaut concludes on this point by saying, “The simplest, most straightforward explanation of the phenomenon of horror is that sometimes people enjoy being scared” (P. 299). This was a huge point made in the first reading. It is the desired effect of the movie. People go to a horror movie in order to be frightened because they enjoy being that emotion. While Gaut made many other points that didn’t correspond to the first reading, I believe that these two reasons are the best explanations as to why we love horror.

 2. Lumb, R., Miller, R., & Patton, T. (2009). Why do people like horror movies? The Jacksonville Observer. Retrieved May 6, 2010, from http://www.jaxobserver.com/2009/10/24/why-do-people-like-horror-movies/

Why Do People Like Horror Movies explores the two questions: who watches horror movies and why? There are many reasons listed as to why people put themselves through these horrifying movies. One reason is simply for the thrill of it. These people enjoy the adrenaline rush, they like feeling their heart beating faster, they enjoy the biological fight-or-flight response. Another reason says that young people in particular are wired for this kind of activity. Media psychologist Stuart Fischoff comments, “[adolescents] have a need for a higher intensity level, for louder music, faster cars”. Some people hold that the safe fright of horror movies serves an evolutionary purpose. Adolescents, who are shown to enjoy horror movies the most, may be unconsciously trying to get themselves ready to be adults. They are just developmentally beginning to face adult responsibilities and look at the world through an adults eyes, so they seek out these frightening experiences. Scary movies also can be used to relieve tension, the relief following the terror makes all the suffering worthwhile. People like to see justice served, some people enjoy violence in horror movies when it’s directed against someone they believe to be deserving of that violence. The last unique point that the article suggested was for the “snuggle theory”.  For young adults, reaction to a horror movie may be linked to sex appeal. A study conducted at Indiana University found that the more distressed a woman at a scary movie was, the more attractive her date found her. Conversely, the less distressed the man was, the more attractive his date found him to be.

In his article, Noel Carroll discusses the fact that people are curious, they want to see what happens. They are drawn into how the upcoming scenes are incorporated into the plot. Carroll says that a horror story is driven by curiosity, “It engages the audience by being involved in the processes of disclosure, discovery, proof, explanation, hypothesis, and confirmation” (Pg. 279).  I believe that this goes along with the other articles ideas that people want to see justice served, and that the confirmation and resolution at the end can relieve their tension.

The rest of the issues raised in the first article were very different in relation to the issues raised in Carroll and Gaut’s articles. The research article chose to focus more on specific age groups while the others explained horror more in general. I think it is important to note the points raised in the research article, because although they are not as scientific as the other articles points, they are valid. I can relate to their ideas because I am a young person and understand exactly what they are talking about. The difference between the two articles just reiterates the fact that there is no real answer to the question of why people love horror movies. It all just depends on who you are and what your taste is.


~ by mccaule2 on May 7, 2010.

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