Call#: Van Pelt Library PN3435 .H55 2005
Chapter 4. Displaying Connoisseurship, Recognizing Craftmanship.
In this chapter Hills explores how the pleasures of horror are constructed and narrated through fan discourses. He analyzes horror fan discourses on a few different horror internet forums and concludes that connoisseurship is the master trope in fan struggles against "inauthentic" horror consumers (non-fans) and taste-making authorities who marginalize horror. Horror fans position themselves as "authentic" through knowledge of the genre and by privileging this intellectual engagement with horror over any affective, emotional engagement. That is, "nonfans" react to horror emotionally (they express fear), while "fans" are interact in a conscious, "knowing" (and at times "superior") way. Ironically, the ostensive purpose of horror films (to instill "horror") is marginalized in these fan communities to "non-fans"). However, it is also recuperated through personal narratives of first/childhood experiences with horror. These narratives admit the affective aspect of horror as experienced in childhood and this serves as a "discourse of affect." This discourse allows the horror fan to positions themselves as rational and literate ("serious") to gain cultural credibility pushing emotion to the past and turning affect into knowledge.
Hills considers online communities--following Pierre Levy and Henry Jenkins--as a 'cosmopedia.' In horror fan forums, fans establish their subcultural identities through appropriate performances within this collective, interactive, and contested "knowledge space." Horror fans also express connoisseurship through their recognition and celebration of horror "special effects" (SFX). Hills rightfully points out that while horror directors are celebrated as auteurs (George Romero, Dario Argento, etc.), SFX creates a network of author functions. The reading of horror films by "fans" often involves a "double attention" to both the experience of the horrific content and the content as special effect. While some fans may use the attention to SFX as a "masculine" reading strategy to deflect affective (i.e. "feminine) responses, Hills points out that a aignificant portion of the audience does so to generate and sustain a reading of "horror-as-art." These fan discourses, Hills argues, work contra to many theories of horror which privilege cognitive,literary, or psychoanalytic textual aspects as generating the (dis)pleasures of horror. Fans' constructed pleasures of horror revolve more around imagined version of their "generic community" or subculture and its particular distinctions from other cultures.
Call#: Van Pelt Library PN1995.9.H6 H75 2002
Berenstein analyzes film reviews and marketing ploys during the first cycle of classic Hollywood horror films (1931-1934) concluding that the horror film served as an ideal site for the "performance"of socially prescribed gender roles, behaviors, and heterosexual coupling rituals. Film studios, exhibitors,and reviewers relied upon gender assumptions, but in contradictory ways. Many film reviwers ignored questions of gender all together treating the horror film audience as an "ungendered" mass, while other reviews expressed surprise that horror films would be as popular with women as they were. The marketing and promotion of horror films, however, rarely took women for granted. Many horror films--such as Dracula (1931)--were promoted as frightening thrillers and romances hoping to appeal to both male and female audiences (assuming a gendered split in interest). Horror film promotional gimmicks took a variety of forms, but many revolved around personifying "fear" as feminine. Gender expectations were that women scream and shriek during horror films, while men displayed bravery (or, masked their own fear which was seen as feminine). If studios and exhibitors (and the films themselves) relied on these assumed gender roles, it's likely that audiences both played along with these assumptions (in a "performative" sense) as well as reactedin oppositional and contradictory ways. There are some issues with Berenstein work. She seemst o implicitly criticize 1930s film reviewers for speaking of the "horror fan" instead of the "female" (or "male") horror fan. While acknowledging that issues of gender are important, speaking of the "female" horror fan is itself not without problems. For one, it also assumes (and thereby reinforces) a gendered difference in audience reactions to horror. While this difference may be true (to some degree, in some ways) it is an empirical question. Although Berenstein acknowledges a space for male and female audience members to act and react outside of proscribed gender roles, she does so only grudgingly.