Monday, February 11

Is horror divided by gender?

As you might have gathered, provided you also read my main blog, I'm quite a fan of horror movies - preferably b-movies. That's why at least once a month the title of a horror movie turns up in my regular weekend update. (In which I state what I'm going to watch, read and play that weekend and what other plans I have.)

This weekend it was "Evil Twin" (English title: "The Attic"), a very interesting movie set almost completely inside one house. This is not a post about that horror movie - although I might be tempted to write one for my main blog.

On Friday, though, I mentioned at work I was going to watch that movie, which made one of my colleague mention that it was not a horror movie from his point of view at all. This colleague is male and about 13 years younger than me, he quite often mentions horror movies that fall into the category 'gore, blood and entrails', as far as I am concerned (such as "Saw", currently the upcoming "Saw 4"). Now I wonder whether our different view of what a good horror movies is has to do with our personalities, our gender or the age gap (around the age of twenty, 13 years are a long time).

Personality is something that should never be neglected. Horror movies work with our fears - and apart from some universal fears, we're all different at that point. Fear is something really personal. Some people are very afraid of spiders, for example, while others merely are intrigued or find them rather annoying (like me, especially since I've started living in a flat on ground level and get one or two of them in my bedroom about once a week during the summer). The movie "The Exorcist", for example, was a huge blockbuster in the United States, but fared far less well in Germany - the Germans aren't that easily scared by the devil and his minions, it seems. (And that's strange, given the best-documented case of a real exorcism is from Germany and has taken place in the latter half of the 20th century.)

So our different personality could already explain why we prefer different types of Horror movies. (I, just to mention it here, prefer horror movies with a psychological or scientific background, but as far as I'm concerned, blood, gore and entrails aren't really scary either. They might make me puke, but they won't make me scream out in fear.)

The gender might be another explanation for the different tastes my colleague and I display. On the whole, as far as I've experienced it, men tend towards movies they see as 'challenging' - movies with a high factor of 'gore, blood and entrails' -, because they want to "prove" something. They see themselves as tougher if they watch movies in which the make-up artists and creators of prosthetic body parts had a lot to do.

Women, on the other hand, seem to prefer the horror that is inside your head, the psychological variety. Gore, blood and entrails aren't really scary to them, they just are something that makes you sick, but not something that makes you afraid. As a woman, you're used to see blood regularly for quite a potion of your life, anyway. If you're cooking yourself, you get to see entrails every now and then, too. And as far as the gore is concerned - well, that's not really scary either.

As I said, you might puke after or during such a movie, but that's not the same as being scared, not for a woman. But for a man, watching such a movie and then being able to say "it was nasty, but I didn't get sick" might be a prove of his strong stomach and courage.

But is that the real difference or do I just have the wrong acquaintances (only women who prefer the horror from within and men who prefer the gore-fraction of horror movies)? As I mentioned, that colleague is more than ten years younger than me, merely twenty. I surely was different when I was twenty, too. During that age, the teenage years are not that far off. And for teenagers, breaking taboos (like watching people getting dissected alive...) is pretty much business as usual. That's one of the things being a teenager is about.

So, will he be more interested in psychological horror once he's a few years older? Honestly, I pretty much doubt it. But, of course, I can't be completely certain.

Maybe it's just because men and women think differently, maybe it's because they're raised differently, but it seems that "horror" has different meanings for both genders.

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