My blog has moved!

You should be automatically redirected. If not, visit
and update your bookmarks.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

The Value of Shock Value

Can horror films serve a useful purpose? Jeffrey Overstreet thinks so. And I agree. Oh most horror films are probably, at best, merely entertainments for adrenaline junkies. Rather, most of them are harmful gore-fests that desensitize the viewer to human suffering and feed a broken sadistic appetite to see people cut apart, mangled and eaten.

But there are a few movies within the horror genre which exceed these limits and make a truly beneficial impact on the viewer. Of all genres, Horror is the most difficult to define. That's because it is really the only genre that refers to an emotion instead of a setting or scenario. So there can be horror dramas, horror comedies, horror westerns, horror space operas, horror romances, horror fantasies, etc. Any story that horrifies you is a horror story.

Is it always bad to be scared? Or is fear a useful and even good thing, from time to time? If experiencing artwork reminds you of the curse of death we all share, or if it makes you understand that the devil is real and hell exists, or if it stirs you up from moral relativism to acknowledge the fact that some things are evil and some are good, then that artwork has helped you in a spiritual sense.

And the only way to reach some people is to shock them. Flannery O'Connor said that for the hard of hearing you must occasionally shout. For the morally deaf and blind, a bit of excess in our expression is necessary. Wasn't Jesus going for shock value when he told people they had to chop off their hands and gouge out their eyeballs to avoid going to hell?? That's a pretty creepy image if you ask me.

Overstreet, in his book, Through a Screen Darkly, recalls an anti-smoking billboard he used to pass regularly that showed a photograph of a gross blackened lung filled with cancer. He found it repulsive. Was that an effective way to dissuade people from smoking? I bet it was.

Sphere: Related Content

No comments:

New Curriculum at Concordia Theological Seminary