Often times, the genre of horror is left behind or reduced to a bunch of haunting, scary stories. But I’m here to tell you that horror matters!
There are so many reasons as to why horror matters, but to begin with, the horror genre always seems to gain special popularity in turbulent times. Cut to the current Covid-19 pandemic. From the Depression and WWII era pulp magazines to the horror novels and films of the Nixon and Reagan era, horror has always been a way for us to look at things from a different, seemingly safer, perspective. Horror has also long been transgressive, embracing societal shifts and changes, earlier than most genres. Again cut to the political unrest and social upheaval of 2020. For years, horror authors have been pushing societal boundaries such as Clive Barker who explored his sexuality through his work, and Poppy Z Brite and Caitlin Kiernan who have written about trans issues in their works.
image via tor.com
Another reason as to why horror matters is that it can be extremely personal for readers. Many readers are able to find catharsis in horror works that center around issues they may be dealing with themselves, such as alcoholism, which is shown in The Shining, or dealing with the death of a child, which was the inspiration for Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire. These issues, which often inspire the creation of many horror novels, allow readers to find release from such hardships at one step removed. Academics have also long stated that horror stories are, in actuality, our modern mythology. Figures such as Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster, Freddy Kreuger, Jason Voorhees, and Hannibal Lecter fill the same niche for us today as the stories of Loki and Hades did for the ancients.
Lastly, it has been recognized by psychologists that horror is a great way to learn to confront fear and uncertainty in life. No wonder horror seems to rise in popularity during turbulent times! It is truly one of the only genres that allow us to tackles questions such as “What happens when we die?” and “Why are we here?” head on.
image via horror writers association atlanta
With that all said, horror matters more than we think and the Horror Writers Association helps to keep the genre alive and new stories of horror possible. The association is currently in twenty-seven countries with chapters all over the US, UK, Canada, Ireland, Italy, and India. They also offer six annual scholarships and several grants, including a Diversity grant. Find more information on that here! The Horror Writers Association hosts an annual library program called Summer Scares, which assists libraries around the US with their literacy programs while teaching teens and children about the horror genre. Lastly, the Horror Writers Association is a part of the Book Industry Health Insurance Partnership and is now proud to offer its members health insurance programs. So remember, no matter if it’s spooky season, a turbulent time, or just a plain old summer’s day, horror matters!
Featured image via Medium