This is my attempt at a semi-regular (weekly? bi-weekly? whenever something bothers me enough to warrant more than 140 characters worth of venting?) post series, in which I… well, vent. Having a Twitter has made me a lot more aware, a lot more quickly I might add, of really important breaking entertainment news. Which is good: I need to be in the know. But, that doesn’t mean a vast majority of this news is good. Or exciting. In fact, like much of the news out there that is not pop culture related, it often makes me cringe, sigh, smack my forehead, and question if there is a god.
The first thing I want to tackle here is why genre shows (and films) are so underrated when it comes to awards specifically. And when I say underrated, I don’t necessarily mean that they’re not represented at all (under represented perhaps but they’re there, if you know where to look *cough Silence of the Lambs, Game of Thrones cough*) but some still get left out, like the fat slow zombie that gets shot in the head first. Which brings me to my next point: The Walking Dead. It literally broke records at the end of the third season, with ratings and viewership matching that of professional sports and surpassing all else.
Yet, and here is where I could get a lot of flack, I saw today American Horror Story: Asylum gracing the cover of Hollywood Reporter, begging for the consideration of whoever was the recipient of the magazine. Now, granted, I haven’t watched a full season of the show. But I saw enough to decide that I didn’t want to. I know some horror fans love it. I’m not one of those fans. I find the horror to be contrived and saturated in a way that isn’t nearly as fun as it should be. In fact, it is that very throw-all-the-metaphorical-fake-blood-against-the-wall-and-see-what-grotesque-idea-sticks kind of tone and resultant hodgepodge story that turned me off. It never felt scary because it was going for everything all at once, with acting and dialogue that felt forced because that’s what is required to even remotely sustain the kind of Halloween-store-for-adults, every horror trope ever sensory overload of the show. And to me personally that wasn’t scary but rather tedious, like someone trying too hard to be funny; I saw the merit, and the potential, and the point, but take it down a notch and maybe more of us would get the joke. Too much isn’t a good thing. The Walking Dead, however, is precisely the kind of varied and refined horror that should attract Emmy and Golden Globe nods. It’s a truly ensemble piece, with episodes whose lack of zombies, driven by human conflict solely, should be voter bait but somehow it just isn’t and I want to know what the difference is, what the deciding factor is, why why why? Basically.
Now, speaking of excess, let’s talk for a moment about far more recent news. Oren Peli of Paranormal Activity fame tweeted about a “Latino spin off” film. Seeing people respond as they did made me smirk evilly, for they weren’t denouncing all of the films that came after the revolutionary and truly terrifying first film. They all seemed to suggest that continuing the franchise would ruin one AND two. Some even said three was still amazing and satisfyingly scary (which it was) but once it got to four, it seemed that I and many others lost hope and/or interest. I know the obvious answer here is money and profit, but it alienates fans when horror gems, which are rare enough as it is, give birth to these inflated, bloated, alien babies… which is a weird metaphor if we’re talking about ghosts or spirits maybe but it’s true! They’re alien in nature because, well, they’re foreign and hard to understand how they’re related to the original, almost like photocopies of photocopies; each film tries to be different than the last, tries to be scarier than the last, but the intention becomes fuzzy and the original spark and spirit blurry.
Now, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I would somehow turn suddenly to disliking the first couple in the now-series as a result of its sequels and spin-offs, but seeing that original vision totally obscured as it becomes merely the eye of some wild horror-franchise-hurricane that has spiraled outwards to no foreseeable conclusion, certainly leaves a bad taste in a fan’s mouth. I felt the same way with Saw. The original was a masterpiece like no one had ever seen, creating torture porn before torture porn was a totally derogatory classification, and became increasingly more and more about finding how many possible ways we can creatively and violently kill someone on screen; it became the whole point whereas before, it was just a nice little gory bonus in a twisty and twisted thriller. I was okay with the second, slightly less okay with the third, but would have walked away satisfied if it had been left as a trilogy, just as I feel about Paranormal. But no. The fourth is the last one I saw and now I feel embarrassed almost to say I’m a fan of Saw because without further evaluation of that statement, it sounds like I’m a fan of the whole franchise, and while it may be pretentious to explain one’s self in that way, it’s what I’ve done ever since the Saw-splosion which I so resent for the reputation it gives the first one or two (or even three) films. I just hope that the same thing doesn’t happen with Paranormal Activity— the trick isn’t to hold a grudge, and with such a hit as it clearly was I doubt people will easily forget the initial phenomena and thrill and quality of the original, but to continue celebrating that very same film that started it all…even as you actually wish that it hadn’t started it all. Let’s see what Insidious Chapter 2 has to offer. For now, my hopes are high. But the vicious cycle seems to be never ending– escape franchise by creating something new and brilliant, only for it to turn into the next franchise.