Monday, May 2, 2011

WHAT DOES A FEMALE HORROR FAN LOOK LIKE?

Finals week is peering its ugly head from beyond the horizon and I'm only five days away from opening my first show in Chicago.  This weekend was spent participating in WIU's Theatre Department fundraiser, Macomb Madness: 24 hours of Theatre.  In just 24 hours, groups of people wrote, produced, and performed short plays.  Yours truly was selected as a playwright and had from 4pm Saturday evening to 4am Sunday morning to develop a 10 minute play. (Mine ran about 15 minutes...oops).  Our play topics were decided by pulling a person, place, and thing out of a hat.  I had my fingers crossed for zombies and was hoping I would be given something horror related to work with (I ended up with James Earl Jones, The Playboy Mansion, and Fairies), when someone said to me "Wait...you like zombies?"  I replied enthusiastically and shamelessly plugged my blog when they looked at me and said "You don't look like a horror fan".  At this point, I'm used to people knowing that I love horror films and it has been quite a while since someone has questioned my macabre loyalty.  I honestly didn't know what to say.  I just smiled and walked away unsure of how to handle the situation. 

Not too long ago, I wrote an article that poised the question of female horror fans and tattoos.  I received an overwhelming abundance of emails and comments from horror fans both male and female that have shared similar experiences of judgement because they don't "look" the part of a horror fan.  A woman I highly admire, Tenebrous Kate, commented "Women *in general* are judged based upon their appearances, and that there's this (stupid) idea that women are somehow new to the idea of being fans of genre entertainment (science fiction, horror, comics--you name it!) and evoke hostility just by being present at horror events. It's frustrating to see that there's still the lingering ghost of that awful choice between pretty OR smart, whether your definition of "pretty" includes technicolor hair and body modifications or leans towards a fresh-faced, clean-cut aesthetic."  She's absolutely right.  I will never understand the idea that anyone with a vagina is immediately seen as a n00b in the realms of anything outside of romantic comedies.  Women have been a staple in just about every genre and in some cases, are the backbone of the entire genre.  Don't believe me?  Where would the Halloween franchise have gone if there wasn't a Laurie Strode?

Jeanette Laredo of Monster Land has been another one of my female horror comrades that shares the stigma of "not looking like a horror fan" She says, "I think that it's about stereotypes and how we expect people interested in certain things to look a certain way. My husband always tells me that I look far too adorable to be talking about exploitation horror and bloodsucking monsters. We all look for signifiers to determine how we categorize people. This makes it hard for women not sporting tats and a cherry red moehawk who feel like they won't be accepted on the basis of their passion for the genre, which is complete BS. Female horror fans come in all shapes, sizes, and hair colors, so give a girl a break".  I just want to know, who the hell decided that all horror fans were living alternative appearing lifestyles?  When is the last time a woman starred in a horror film and was covered in ink, piercings, and edgy haircuts?  It seems that because horror films deal with things outside of cupcakes and bridal showers, that women must appear goth/punk in order to earn some sort of horror street cred. 

Lianne Spiderbaby, writes for Fangoria and has some of the most mad horror chops of any woman I've ever known.  She says "I don't have any tattoos or piercings... I used to look edge-ier back in the day (a marilyn, and a chelsea cut look), but I wanted to be different and stand out in the horror world, and I've achieved this by just being myself in the sense of looking more... "normal" I suppose. I successfully started writing for Fangoria magazine, writing my first book on exploitation actresses, and writing my first horror screenplay without having a tattooed-goth look..." So someone explain to me where this idea developed?  The horror genre has always been proud to accept all walks of life into their realms, and yet they have somehow now developed the stigma that you can't be a "true" fan unless you appear edgy and "out of the norm".  It just doesn't make any sense to me.
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Of course this isn't to say that looking "different" is a bad thing.  That's not what this is saying at all. What I'm trying to ask is, "why can't we both exist?"  As a group of people who should know better than anyone that bucking the system not only gets you snubbed at the Oscars but little to no respect from film critics, we should know by now that it isn't the exterior that matters, it's the heart.  Now, I'm well aware that there are TONS of people that do not share this same opinion of stereotyping people, I'm gearing this more towards the status quo.  I'm a horror fan, and I'm proud that I look the way I do.  It's only a matter of time before other people start doing the same. 

4 comment(s):

ReactorGirl said...

As a moderatly tattooed female horror/b-movie fan, I can tell you that my life as a fangirl freaking sucks. Not only do I get patronized by male fans, they demand the right to quiz me on movies whenever they feel fit. If I pass, they begrudgingly leave me alone; if I don't, they gloat. It's the same in the heavy metal community; so freaking sexist. I wish I could participate in my fandoms as a dude, but I just don't bother anymore. I keep my head down, don't mention it, and avoid the pain. Horror movies are something I've been passionate about for years, having a passion I've devoted much of my time and money to totally devalued as me trying to look cute or tough is head-bashing (as in mine against a wall, not quite the other way around yet lol.) Really depressing, but excellent blog post. I wish I was as brave as you!!!

Faycin A Croud said...

Nothing about me screams "horror fan." I'm a fat, frumpy, middle-aged mom. There's no way anyone would know my tastes by looking at me!

Greg said...

the truth is that women are not ment to have interests other that their look; everything they do is simply for fashion and this is involving their (very) recent addiction to entertainment.

out of this we can identify 3 categories of women [intersec] horror movies:

- regular women that do care about nothing but their body and look (and NOT caring about horror)

- women casually addicted to horror but actually looking for a style that could "work" on saturday nights

- BJ-C
and believe me, at least this is remarkable

:D

Edward said...

Awesome post. Seems to be absolutely true and the selection of quotes from other writers is nice :)

I think (and I'm really not suggesting there aren't serious gender lines!) it's something horror fans all face to an extent. Apparently I ought to be heavily bearded, into mental and probably sporting a tattoo or two as well... Ah well.

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