Monday, August 19, 2013

YOU CALL YOURSELF A SCREAM QUEEN, EH?

Yeah. Real talk.
Almost a year ago, I wrote a piece called "Where have all the Scream Queens gone?!" at the request of Cortez the Killer from Planet of Terror. A little less than 365 days later and we've found our "Scream Queens," on the resumes of self-proclaimed actresses.  In the article previously mentioned, I made a quick jab at these self-proclaimed actresses with a comment saying, "True scream queens know they're scream queens and I don't need to justify their careers on my website.  This is more so focused to the recent splurge of self-proclaimed scream queens.  I'm sorry, but just because you screamed at a CGI monster in a push up bra in two films...you're not a scream queen (I'm looking at you Jaimie Alexander)."  The sad thing about this self-proclaimed scream queen craze, is that actresses aren't the only ones guilty of this practice.  Horror news sources desperate for hits are putting "JANE DOE ACTRESS: UP AND COMING SCREAM QUEEN" in their titles in the hopes that people will click and read.  It's Journalism 101 to create an eye-catching title, but this "scream queen" phenomenon needs to pump the brakes.

Scream Queen Danielle Harris got her start in horror and returns to the genre frequently (but has plenty of non-horror credits to her name)
When a journalist names an actress a "Scream Queen" when she has not yet deserved the title, it becomes problematic for a number of reasons. First off, you're putting an insane amount of pressure on what is presumably an up-and-coming face in the acting industry.  A lot of women that we name "Scream Queens" are just getting their start, and horror is the jumping off point for the careers of a large amount of actors.  It's the actresses that remain in the horror industry that we tend to refer to as "Scream Queens." This isn't to say that they can't branch out and play in other genres, but the "Scream Queens" we know and love tend to return to the genre that gave them their start.  By naming a girl a SQ at the start, you're either pigeon-holing her into only making horror movies, or you're giving her the pressure that she's obligated to perform in horror.  Believe it or not, not everyone wants to be in a horror movie. Call a girl a SQ and you put her at risk for being typecast as a horror actress for the rest of her career. That's not really fair, is it?

You think you're on JLC's level? Really?
Another issue is that calling an undeserving actress a SQ also takes away some of the prestige from the women who worked very, very hard to earn those titles. Think of it like little league sports.  If every kid gets a trophy, the 1st place trophy doesn't feel quite as sweet.  It's celebrating mediocrity and it's drawing false parallels. Self-proclaiming the SQ title immediately means that you consider yourself to be just as deserving of the acclaim as the universally accepted SQs.  I'm sorry, but do you honestly believe that your mixed-review performance in an independent film that only has 5,000 hits on YouTube puts you in the same category as someone like Jamie Lee Curtis that perfected the art of the "Final Girl" and has her name attached to multiple horror franchises including a little known film called HALLOWEEN? It's absolutely preposterous. I don't care how many times you call yourself a SQ on your twitter profile or attach it to your name in a press release, if you didn't earn the title, you have no place using it. If you went to medical school, no matter how great you thought you were, you wouldn't walk around calling yourself the Surgeon General because it's not a title that you've earned.  So why the Hell do people think it's socially acceptable to throw around titles like "Scream Queen" and attach them to any woman who has ever flashed their tits in front of a man with a knife?  If that was the case, every butcher's wife in New York can call themselves a "Scream Queen."  Acting isn't just some hobby, it's a serious business and the careers for many individuals.  Tainting a title that many people dream of someday having bestowed upon them by slapping it on as a catch-all for any actress in a horror film is just plain wrong. The title of a Scream Queen is earned, and until you've paid your dues...see the title as something to strive for.  We don't give out trophies here, they must be deserved.

3 comment(s):

Kurt Reichenbaugh said...

Because I'm an old fart horror fan from way back, when I hear the term "Scream Queen" Brinke Stevens immediately comes to mind. I think she still appears at conventions now and then, and still is as hot as ever in her 50's. I wouldn't know a single one in the CGI era.

Christopher Madill said...

Absolutely. A SQ doesn't qualify simply because she can scream, she must also be able to act, emote, and hold the audience's attention - regardless of how much time she's onscreen (alive). I would mention Angela Bettis, Shawnee Smith, and Jessica Harper in this category, in addition to your fine recommendations.

Helena Philomena Liebekraft said...

With your writing chops, I would love to see you do a list of ten great classic scream queens. I wanted to be an actress when I was a young girl because my mother took me and my brother to see King Kong, and I thought Fay Wray was AMAZING!
Sadly, these days it seems that most people think Scream Queen means a female performer who takes off her clothes and screams a lot. A lot of what these women do qualifies as soft-core porn with gory special effects and is a real snooze.

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