Thursday, January 29, 2009

Conservatives Discover Horror

I try to keep politics away from I Saw Lightning Fall. Some of this is due to principle (public policy often a wretched narrative makes) and the rest to preference (I fear I’ll break out in hives if the words “change” or “maverick” crop up). Yet sometimes government and genre intersect in interesting ways, and when that happens all I can do is blog.

To my way of thinking, stories have power. They delight our aesthetic sense and inform our ethics. Liberals understand this, and while their projects’ have spotty quality -- for every Platoon there’s a Lions for Lambs -- one can’t fault their commitment. Even libertarians have
gotten in on the act. But typically speaking, today’s conservative doesn’t grasp the point of narrative. He can devour Kirk’s The Conservative Mind or Lewis’ The Abolition of Man at a sitting, but will look at you blankly if you mention Old House of Fear or That Hideous Strength. And should he try his hand at storytelling, the result (if recent history is any guide) will avoid genre entirely. So imagine my surprise when I stumbled across the trailer for 22weeks, a short film about abortion -- a short horror film.

Bloody surgical tools. Screaming faces distorted in terror. Dingy, dimly lit settings. I wasn’t sure I hadn’t accidentally clicked on the teaser for Hostel. Progressives will probably decry the movie as manipulative, traditionalists shun it as too explicit. But the former should remember that Stephen King (no neo-con himself) claimed horror is intrinsically conservative and the latter that the West’s most-treasured writings
veer into grotesque territory. I’m pleased that the creators of 22weeks took a risk on our least-loved genre. Here’s to hoping they understood the fundamentals better than their predecessors.

(Picture: CC 2009 by

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