Horror, Melodrama, and Porn Are the Same Genre | FiendZone


What do horror movies soap operas and
porn all have in common? More than you might think. Hi, I’m Jenna. I have a master’s degree in media and culture and I’ve spent years studying
horror media and videogame cultures Which is why I’m here to talk to you
about melodramas and hardcore porn. And horror! Because all three of these styles overlap in interesting ways and the more you know about how they overlap, the
better you’ll understand how emotion is depicted across cinematic genres. Horror, porn and melodrama all fall under the subheader of body genres, which, are
broadly speaking, genres that privilege physical sensational response.
If you want to get technical about it, there are four things that really define
the body genre. The first is an emphasis on emotions. Most movies follow a similar
formula; there’s a plot, goal, or character arc that’s motivating the action. Body
genres may still have those, but usually they’re very shallow, trope-reliant
versions of them. By contrast the focus in body genres is on developing
the core emotions- fear, sadness, arousal- not on narrative closure. That’s why, for
example, The Cabin in the Woods works as a commentary on horror movies; a set of
stock characters enact cliche plots, but those cliches still engage viewers
because complexity is not the point of a body genre. The point is to reinforce the
emotional core, and you don’t need extravagant plots to do that. It’s not enough to just show these emotions. For body genres, it’s equally
important that the people watching them feel the same emotions. A character
screams when the audience should scream, [Scream!] cries when the audience should cry, and, well… you know… I mean a horror movie that doesn’t scare you is generally
considered a bad horror movie, right? But try to remember the last comedy you saw
that actually showed characters laughing at each other’s jokes. Most of the time
they don’t even react. They just barrel on to the next gag. You ever heard David Beckham speak? It’s like he mouth-sex a can of helium. [Silence] You think Ryan Reynolds got
this far on a superior acting method? The audience is supposed to laugh, because
the jokes are funny not because they’re mimicking the actors.
When watching a body genre, you’re meant to replicate the on-screen emotions.
That’s the whole point. They are spectacles of excess. Characters
are overwhelmed with emotion, to the point that they’re incapable of rational
thought. Scared out of their minds, weeping senselessly, overcome with
arousal. They scream, they cry, they moan because they’re too emotional to use
language. Which goes hand in hand with a lot of gendered ideas about who exactly
is allowed to feel strong emotions. Body genres almost always star women because
we perceive emotional excess as the domain of women. Horror, melodrama and
porn are often stories where women are rendered senseless and powerless,
entirely unable to reason, because of emotion. This both reflects and
reinforces the idea that women experience emotion to excess, and that
men experience no emotion: two ideas that are as ridiculous as they are dangerous. Even though body genres are hugely popular, they’re considered the lowest of
low culture. It’s part of the reason horror movies are rarely nominated for
Oscars. Body genres are essentially, by definition, low quality. That’s largely
because they depict emotional access and because we perceive that excess as a bad
thing, despite evidence that emotional release has a positive impact on health.
Choosing to provoke that release by watching horror, porn, or melodramas isn’t
necessarily a bad thing, but it’s important to be aware of the messages-
especially about gender- that you might be receiving when doing so. So how do
these ideas transfer from cinema to video games? Well, body genres don’t really
exist in video games because players don’t need to have emotions mediated in
the same way that spectators do. When you watch a horror movie, you derive fear
from identifying with the character experiencing terror. In a game, you are
the character experiencing terror. As such, survival horror games are usually
more visceral because there are fewer layers of mediation between you and the
experience. Of course you don’t have to know any of this in order to enjoy
horror, porn or melodramas, but hopefully you’ve gained insight into how emotion
is mediated. Even low culture media contains messages
about our society and they’re often overlooked or taken for granted. You
don’t always have to be analyzing these messages, but it’s good to tune in every
once in a while and ask yourself “What is this trying to get me to think or feel,
or not think and not feel?” Or you can just tune in next time and I’ll tell you
to the best of my abilities what hidden messages lie in the heart of the media
you consume. The information in this video was derived from the works of
Carol Clover and Linda Williams. If you enjoyed it go ahead and like and
subscribe to Polygon, and maybe share it with any friends you have that are into
like… horror or cultural analysis or cool jackets.

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