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The Yattering

Tabula Rasa#4, October 1994

Critics often think I'm disapproving of every possible kind of sex. Not at all. With Shivers I'm a venereal disease having the greatest time of my life, and encouraging everyone to get into it.
David Cronenberg
I suppose we have to ask, eventually, what fiction is for. One man's meat is another man's wank fantasy, so to speak.

Let's look at some examples. How about a story about a famous horror writer who dies suddenly -- ten years on his wife is still stricken with grief, her loss apparently the only thing left to her. (Needless to say this one was written by a famous horror writer.)

What about a story wherein a man gets the chance to strike back against those who've wronged him -- or rather, to out-atrocity the 'bad-guys', to torture and terrorise and remain untainted simply because he says some cool things and some bimbo says 'I Love You' in flashback. Is that wanky or what?

Should we mention a show that seems to exist to say that mankind is the ideal? -- the object of all quests is humanity, and despite infinite diversity, humans are the arbitrators and the standard, as any passing omnipotence tends to agree. Give us a break. (Better a show where humanity's future is as tenacious as its past, but a series of petty tyrannies nonetheless.)

Now horror, as a specific form, isn't there to nurture anybody. It's there to get you worried about something. Theoretically. In some sort of abstract way. But holding anybody to that is hardly likely to work either (which also doesn't stop public or -- worse -- editorial, expectations, but there you go).

Personal vision, what the artist wants to write, to say to her audience -- that is, dare we say, the most important thing. Be it Mr Cronenberg or Ms Lee or even Mr Roddenberry, and nobody says that we have to agree (hello Mr Dickie, can we see the complete Videodrome yet?)

Of course, ignoring the needs and wants of some of your characters can just be sloppy. After all, if the greatest ideal horror has is misanthropy, subsections just don't come up to scratch.


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