If I’m perfectly honest, I spend about as much time arguing about horror as I do actually watching it. Not arguing in the “I’m right, you’re wrong” sense (although admittedly, it might have happened, once or twice) but discussing ideas about the subject in question, bringing forth points of view that might not have been considered. In the internet age, these kinds of conversations make up a good portion of what horror fandom is in the cultural sense; people who love the genre also love discussing the genre and the concepts therein. I don’t peruse many online forums anymore but I do follow r/horror, and by far, the most interesting threads are discussions that pertain to the wider world of horror fandom. Is illegal streaming hurting the industry? Is adapting Lovecraft’s stories for film a futile endeavor? Is James Wan the next Wes Craven? Please don’t answer that last one…
My point is, there’s more to horror than the media we consume – there’s a culture and a fandom behind it, one that doesn’t always agree but feels passionately enough about the subject matter to talk about it. These are discussions worth having, and I want Rue Morgue to be part of those discussions. To that end, I’m pleased to introduce a new section to the magazine entitled VS, debuting in our 20th anniversary issue.
You might have seen our poll on our Facebook page (also embedded below for your voting pleasure): should horror fans boycott convicted pedophile Victor Salva’s new Jeepers Creepers movie? That poll ties in with the new VS column, where 2 writers each get a half-page to offer insight to one side of the matter. The magazine hasn’t hit shelves yet, but the poll already has over 200 votes! And the comments section? Let’s just say it’s not exactly light reading…
In this issue, we’ve got Dejan Ognjanovic arguing in favor of separating the art from the artist, and Alexandra West arguing against it. I’m pleased to say that both writers presented a compelling and well-considered case that had me questioning my own position on the matter.
“The question of whether to separate the art from the artist is unresolved in the hearts of horror fans”
I’ve seen some criticism online that the poll isn’t in the best taste. Are we asking people to vote on whether child abuse is acceptable? Are we giving a pedophile a platform by even talking about his crimes or his films? Are we trying to mobilize a boycott that could stunt the industry? No, we’re not, although I do think the digital age provides horror fans more power than ever when it comes to ruffling such high-level feathers. People are commenting that this question is old, that it’s come up before with regard to Polanski and Coppola, and that’s true, it has. However, if the fiery and impassioned discussion happening in the comments section underneath the poll is any indication, the question of whether to separate the art from the artist is clearly unresolved in the hearts of horror fans.
As for the question of taste, it appears that public outcry on the matter has been heard – Jeepers Creepers 3 was set to premiere September 13th at the TCL Chinese Theater in LA, but the screening was cancelled amidst threats of protest. Further, one of Salva’s victims, Nathan Winters, has recently posted a statement expressing his gratitude for the support he’s received. While he emphasizes that he played no role in the cancellation and encourages viewers to make their own decision whether or not to see the film, he stresses the importance of the conversation by way of the truth being brought to light. Read his full statement here.
Admittedly, it’s a pretty spicy topic for our first VS, but I’m the type who likes to kick doors open. I hope you enjoy reading the new column in issue 178, and that you’ll join in on the conversation online.