Alice Robb did something stupid.
What did Robb do? She wrote an article that appeared in The New Republic on 4 January, entitled ‘The Babadook: What it says about you if you enjoy horror movies.’
Well, I enjoy horror movies. I wonder what that says about me? Before I clicked the link, I expected some vague generalizations. What I got, instead, was a whole lot of stupidity.
Robb starts out by telling us the movie is scary (no shit!), then she gives a rundown of the drawbacks of watching scary movies. Among them is this gem:
“…scientists found that healthy men and women had a significantly higher heart rate and a higher concentration of stress hormones like cortisol in their blood if they watched The Texas Chainsaw Massacre than if they sat in a quiet room.”
What? What is this you are telling me? Watching a scary movie is scarier than sitting in a quiet room? My mind is blown. My paradigms are shattered. My life will never be the same again.
But that’s just the tip of this ice-berg of stupidity. Robb proceeds to tell us that
“…For a Taiwanese man with high blood pressure, Avatar was the last straw.”
Anybody who says that Avatar is horror doesn’t have the faintest clue what they are talking about. Alice Robb, you’re clueless!
As if that wasn’t bad enough (I know, it’s really bad!), Robb then cherry picks results from psychological experiments with a few hundred participants to make sweeping generalisations (I knew it!). According to her, if you enjoy horror movies you:
- Lack Emapthy (based on self-evaluation of 233 undergrads),
- Are aggressive and thrill-seeking (based on evaluation of 470 kids and, separately, 300 undergrads),
- Are a man (also from the undergrads in #1), and
- Are a man with a frightened woman (based on a survey of 72 undergrads).
Unfortunately, I do not have access to the journal articles that these results were taken from, so I cannot comment on the methods used. What I can say is that I wouldn’t put much weight into the results of studies involving such a small number of people. We’re talking less than 1000 people here, the great majority of whom are undergraduates. And the very fact that they are using western undergraduates undermines the entire story.
Because students in western universities are NOT representative of normal people. They don’t make emotional or sexual decisions in the way that average people do, and they cannot be relied upon to illuminate the psychological state of a group of people as diverse as horror fans.
To claim otherwise is just plain wrong.
I know horror fans from all walks of life. An appreciation for horror transcends gender, class, race, age or sexual orientation. Being scared triggers that fight-or-flight response, and a good dose of dopamine to go along with it. Some brains get more of a kick out of that dopamine spurt than others. Some of us like feeling scared in that controlled way where we still know that nothing is going to happen to us. Unless we’re watching Avatar.
The bottom line is that enjoying horror movies (or books, or whatever!) says one thing about you: You enjoy horror movies. Trying to read more into it is stupid.