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Sunday, May 10, 2009

Thank God This Was Not *MY* Mother...

You know what, this may come as a surprise to some of you (and to others it will be the farthest thing from it) but I have been known from time to time to be something of a bitter old curmudgeon, grumpy beyond my years (although my years are catching up). And so I fully understand that some of you will accuse me of sour grapes when I continue the theme of Mother's Day here at the Vault by commenting on this particular fluff piece that annoyed the living crap out of me.

I think it's safe to say that my reaction to you as a human being can be decided by whether you find this story heart-warming or stomach-churning. I happen to be among the latter. The piece I'm referring to is a Mother's Day-themed feature that ran today in that journalistic giant, Farmington, New Mexico's Daily Times. Entitled, "Twilight Moms: Mothers' relationships grow through popular book" (do you feel the bile churning yet?), it's all about how 30-something-year-old moms from across this fine nation of ours have been brought together by Stephenie Meyer's safe and saccharine-sweet series of "vampire" novels. And how their relationships with their children have been strengthened by it.

One Lisa Hansen, a 36-year-old mother of two, gushes about creating the website Twilight Moms as a way of expressing her love for a book written for 12-year-old girls. She waxes rhapsodic about starting up her website as a way for similarly minded individuals to commune with one another in their obsession. It now has over 29,000 members--a fact which depresses, but doesn't surprise me.

The mothers soon began recommending the books to their daughters (and in some mind-boggling instances, their sons), thus passing along the mediocrity to the next generation.

"It's made us so much closer," said one of the moms. "We always had a great relationship, but now every night is a slumber party."


"We're totally normal people in the real world," says Hansen. "This web site has become a platform for regular wholesome human beings."

And I guess that's what sums up my revulsion in a nutshell. Look, don't get me wrong, I'm all for families getting closer together, and I'm sure part of this is just me in full-on "Bitch Pleeeeeeze" sarcastic blogger mode, but I just find it all but impossible to read this story without cringing. I think it's because these people are nothing less than infidels. Imposters sullying the good name of my favorite genre of film/literature. These are not horror fans. These are "regular, wholesome human beings." These are people who would be ashamed to be horror fans, and so are drawn to this syrupy saga because it is clean and acceptable.

Let's get something straight here. Horror is not created for "regular, wholesome people". It's created for the subversives in our culture; for the people with the slightly off-kilter perception of reality; the people who root for the bad guy; the people whose favorite way of coping with life's random cruelty is gallow's humor. In short, horror is the domain of the misfits, and we're damn proud of it.

The love of horror can most certainly be an excellent way for parents and kids to bond. But please folks, have some respect for yourself, and your kids. Don't expose them to this tripe. I'm a 34-year-old father of two, and I love bonding with my kids, but you know what? I do it by showing them Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein. I do it by dressing them up as zombies for Halloween, and teaching them to imitate all the classic Universal monsters to a T. I do it by reading vampire stories to them before they go to bed at night, and listening to them whispering and giggling in excitement after I've gone downstairs.

My kids bought me Fido for Christmas last year. They've sat through Night of the Living Dead with me. To some this might make me a bad parent, but not in my estimation. You know what gives me that kind of confidence? The knowledge that I was raised the exact same way.

Much like the parents and kids in the aforementioned feature story, I also bonded with my mom through a common love. Only it was for The Exorcist and The Return of the Living Dead. It was for the novels of Anne Rice and Stephen King. My parents absolutely loved horror and still do, and I'm proud to say that I'm the fanboy I am today because of them. And I'm also quite sure I would've pulled an "Irreconcilible Differences" on them if they had chosen instead to confine me to safe, unpalatable pablum that only masquerades as horror.

So excuse me if I can't relate to these soccer moms and their spawn, folks I'm sure wouldn't go near the likes of Cannibal Holcaust, Bloodsucking Freaks or I Spit on Your Grave with a ten-foot Swiffer. Perhaps I am overreacting--in fact I'm almost positive that I am--but you'll have to forgive my overzealousness. There comes a time when true horror fans need to take a stand. And I think this precious little article just kind of pushed me over the edge today.

Ah... that feels better. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to watch The Satanic Rites of Dracula with my mom and son.

* * * * * * * * * *

For more Mother's Day horror goodness, and to read about another mom who raised her kid right, proceed directly to Day of the Woman for BJ-C's tribute to her horrorific momma...


BJ Colangelo said...

that's absolutely disgusting. i seriously think im the last person born after 1985 with parents that share a love of horror with their children. it's disgusting.

Karl Hungus said...

Somehow, I managed to let all this Twilight malarkey just breeze by me. I've given up getting pissed off about what pop culture adherents are interested in, because there's just no breaking the cycle.

I think Quentin Tarantino films were what put me off trying to talk sense into some people. I saw City on Fire years ago, and I was shocked at just how much Tarantino had ripped it off. I'd hear people saying how original he is, and I'd immediately tell them that he's a complete hack and a plagiarist, only for them to shrug it off and say how nothing is original these days anyway...

Just made me want to scream, shake them and say "Be outraged, damnit!" Kill Bill is just Lady Snowblood chopped up with some scenes from other samurai B-Movies and the like, there's not an original moment in it! How can you be so complacent? Watch a film in another language maybe, and see how wrong you are!

But they never really listened, and it was pointless arguing. I guess I was younger and more hot-headed, and thought if those kind of people just saw one Takeshi Kitano movie, it would open their eyes to a whole other side of cinema. But now I think it's just futile.

I know where you're coming from of course... the idea of horror being so filtered down and sanitized to appeal to the lowest common denominator, it's just offensive. It's like McDonald's chicken nuggets, maybe at some stage they resembled chicken, but they've been so processed, there's almost nothing left. You do have to make the separation between something like Twilight and genuine horror, and try not to let the mainstream fluff bother you.

By the way, my local cinema is finally showing Let The Right One In. Saw it tonight, at long last. Expect a review shortly. :D

B-Sol said...

Oh nice! I'd be happy to host your review on the Vault, Karl--been a while since it's been graced by a post from you!

Karl Hungus said...

Oh no, sorry man, I mean I'd be posting a review on my blog shortly. Sorry for any miscommunication. :o

John said...

This is the best thing I've read in weeks. A friend of mine hit the nail right on the head when he said "Twilight is like High School Musical for goth kids.". I was more than inclined to agree, only I had to add "yeah, but add a twist of Harry Potter". Love your stuff, keep it up.

B-Sol said...

Thanks John!

And no sweat Karl. No miscommunication, I was just trying to persuade you to save your review for the Vault. I'll let it slide, provided you come up with a new guest post topic...

And BJ-C, let the record show that you remain a credit to your generation.

John Sunseri said...

I understand your disgust and your pain. I’m a bit older than you (just turned forty), and my wife and I don’t have any kids (though I fully approve of what snippets of your childrearing techniques I’ve seen on this site—what’s childhood without Godzilla, the gill-man and the occasional shriek from the nursery as a branch scrapes across a windowpane?), and I freely admit that I haven’t read any of Meyer’s work in full (I’ve read Harry Potter, so I get a dispensation), but I’ve read enough to consider myself qualified to comment. And I’ll try to keep the parentheses to a minimum henceforth;

Bonding moments between parents and children are fine when they come via the ALICE books, or WATERSHIP DOWN, or even NARNIA. And all those ageless classics are classics because they’re GOOD. They’re well-written (if a little heavy-handed, in the case of Lewis’s Christianity metaphors), they explore the age-old themes of love and valor and bravery in new ways, they provide a bridge between the inspired nonsense of Dr. Seuss and Maurice Sendak and the adult phantasmagoria of Borges, Shakespeare and Garcia Marquez. Meyer ‘s books are upscale versions of GOOSEBUMPS.

There’s nothing wrong with GOOSEBUMPS, of course. But forty-year old women shouldn’t be reading them, digging them, and indoctrinating their children into that particular cult. It’s not just sad, it’s embarrassing. It’s like urging your kids to read Danielle Steele or V.C. Andrews, for no other reason than because it’s what you wish you would have read when you were in junior high, and damn quality, plot integrity or basic English skills. I have major sympathy for women who loved, say, WUTHERING HEIGHTS or SENSE AND SENSIBILITY, and take their opportunity to mold young minds by urging those books on their daughters. Because those books are GOOD BOOKS. I don’t particularly enjoy Bronte or Austen, but I admit their talent with the written word and I would never discourage anyone—adult or child—from reading them. But shoving Stephenie Meyer into your kids’s mind is like shoving corn syrup down their gullets. It’s not abuse, but it certainly don’t do them no good.

Your job as a parent is to raise your children to be thinking, reasoning, moral adults. Spooning pap down their throats long after the time when you should have been giving them solid food is not only a disservice to THEM, but to society. These daughters, who are certainly old enough to take it, are being spoon-fed Vampire Lite when they should be consuming THE LORD OF THE FLIES or THE COLLECTOR or DOLORES CLAIBORNE (minor King, but still leagues better than Meyer’s faux-dramatic pablum). How about ROSEMARY’S BABY for a different look at marriage? Why not “The Monkey’s Paw”, to show the destructive side of love? Hell, why wouldn’t you give your daughters DRACULA to show them seduction, INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE to show them what immortality actually means, or ‘SALEM’S LOT for the ugly side of bloodsucking and nightlife?

I’m a horror aficionado, of course, and I’m not suggesting that every parent go out, buy a copy of the most terrifying book out there, and inflict it on his or her child. But if you’re going to bond with your kids over a pair of star-crossed lovers, why the hell not stick with ROMEO AND JULIET, “Troilus and Criseyde”, Catherine and Heathcliff or even Launcelot and Guinevere? Why settle for badly-written, half-digested books that don’t provide a whit of insight into the human condition beyond the kind of crap psychology that Danielle Steele would laugh at?
Sorry for the rant. Just wanted to show a bit of solidarity.

John Sunseri said...

And I just looked at your zombie kids. That's priceless. Absolutely priceless. My congratulations.

AndyDecker said...

Loved your article. Guess this is the same audience which devours the paranormal romance crap where they can have their porn hidden, safe and saccarined up.

This is how you take the subservise out of any genre - make it go mainstream. Sad times.

gord said...

Satanic Rites of Dracula is a great film and was my introduction to Hammer and Lee and Cushing as a team.

Great article too.

RayRay said...

RayRay - Honestly, B-Sol, one of your best. I think it was the anger - unfiltered, pure, not yet distilled - that made this such a great piece.

This dynamic has played out many times, over many generations. Usually, it is popular music, like when heavy metal suddenly went from the music of pariahs to Z100.

The same thing has happened to horror, only it has jumped a generation. Instead of guidos my own age loving Metallica, it is soccer moms loving evil, our evil. Only the evil has been sanitized for out protection. Ugh.

Jonathan said...

I didn't read any of the Twilight books, but I was a good sport and accompanied my wife to the movie. I wanted to leave halfway - no, a quarter of the way - through it. It was the most awful piece of tripe I've seen in years. Ignoring the overacting and awful special effects, the ridiculous cooing and the barely-there plot were bad enough. Even worse, Twilight has somehow made me start to dislike the Harry Potter books.

I'm glad that my eventual kids will reach Meyer's target audience age long after she's been forgotten like the plagiarist who "wrote" Eragon.

As far as Kill Bill, I saw a Japanese movie around 2000 or 2001 about a young woman who's left for dead and learns to fight with a sword so she can avenge her family. Does anybody know this movie? I think it was called Princess something or Bride of something.

PS: I'm definitely dressing my future kids as zombies for Halloween. And Christmas. And Arbor Day. OK, every day of the year.

B-Sol said...

Thanks Ray--yes I'm trying to cling to my anger. I need it, much like James T. Kirk.

Karl Hungus said...

I've got my review up now B-Sol.

And sure, I'll get cracking on another guest post soon. ;)

Sarah said...

Were you invited to join this site called HorrorBlips.com? It's like Digg.com, but for horror blogs. I was asked to join, did, but I only check the site every once in awhile because it is completely overrun by Twilight blogs and news. Even when I try to "vote down" several Twilight posts in a row, I'm stopped until I "vote up" other articles.

Now, I haven't read the Twilight books, and only sat through the Rifftrax version of the movie a few weekends ago (enough to get the gist that it's truly a terrible movie, like not even fun-bad), but it wasn't a horror movie. It has no moments that Mr. Sunseri was speaking of, like teaching courage and valor (even the Harry Potter books do that). It's mindbendingly weird to say that a movie featuring vampires is not a horror movie, but it's not.

My mom only liked horror books, not horror movies, except for Stephen King made-for-TV adaptations. She was perfectly okay with me reading R.L. Stine (the more teenager-oriented books, not Goosebumps, which wasn't out yet) at age 8 & having Stine autograph them, and my upgrading to Carrie by age 11.

B-Sol said...

Yeah, I was invited to join HorrorBlips, but I found it to be cool. Not overrun by Twilight crap. Plus, I'm in the top 15 horror blogs ranked on there, so that helps!

Alana Noel Voth said...

BC, there's just too much wrong with Twilight. I've grappled with it myself. Dig your post. Thank you. :-)

BJ-C, the kid (born in 1997) and I bond over horror all the time. Last night it was The Descent. We had a conversation about the character, Juno, which resulted in my son absorbing the complicated yet human reality of moral ambiguity.


Soap Magic said...

I'm 13 years old, and I never thought of reading Twilight. Seriously, Dracula and Eli would be ashamed if they had heard about the Twilight series. Fortunately, my father introduced horror to me the right way. He was the one who introduced John Carpenter to me. Now, I know more about horror movies than he does!

I'm proud to say that The Innocents, Nosferatu (1922), The Beyond, The Fog (1980), and The Omen (1976) are some of my favorite horror movies. Don't lose faith in this generation, everyone!

B-Sol said...

Huzzah, sir. Keep the torch burning!

John Sunseri said...

Soap Magic, your post impresses the hell out of me. You can write clearly and well, and for a thirteen-year old to do that is a wonderful thing. And, yeah, I'm also impressed by your taste.

Sarah, it's 'John'. No one who's nice to me is allowed to call me 'Mr. Sunseri'.

Ms Harker said...

I bonded with my Dad watching The Exorcist and Twin Peaks... I love my Dad! If and when I have children they will be reading Dracula, then Frankenstein, Salem's Lot and then a quality selection of graphic novels by Ben Templesmith. Prior to reading age, their favourite toy will be a soft fluffy bat or something of that ilk.


B-Sol said...

Ms. Harker, I have no doubt you will be legendary amongst the pantheon of "cool moms".

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