Monday, April 20, 2009

Are Bloggers Cultists?

If you're a fan of the horror genre and have a horror themed blog some people apparently seem to think so. Seems odd to me. But what do I know. Anyway this all started with me reading some blogs and tumbling to a discussion going on about horror bloggers apparently spawned by comments about Paul Naschy movies between the hosts of Groovy Age of Horror and the And Now the Screaming Starts blogs. If you don't know who Paul Naschy is I suggest you pop over to The Mark of Naschy for a crash course. The spark for this discourse is summed up in the post: How do fans experience the stuff they love?

I'm posting this not so much because the argument is interesting (though it is interesting reading) but because it is, in my opinion, precipitated by the misuse of an single word. That word being: cultist.

Behold the offending line: "I propose that horror bloggers aren't so much experts as they are cultists."

That sentence sounds rather offensive when you take it out of context and just put it up on screen by itself, doesn't it? Why not call them hobbyists or enthusiasts?

A cult, loosely defined, is a specific form and/or system of religious worship as expressed through ceremonies and rites. While it is true cults may venerate certain objects these are almost always items viewed as phylacteries. Now it could be argued that cultists, being members of a cult, having a shared cultus of devotional symbols and ideologies appears similar to the sort of veneration fandom in general imbues the object(s) of their admiration with. But this hardly qualifies as religious devotion. And, most certainly, as a host of a genre themed blog myself- albeit dedicated to science fiction not horror, per se- I would scarcely say this makes me a sci-fi cultist.

Simply put there is no sci-fi cult. No corpus of sci-fi scripture. No sci-if philosophy upon which to meditate. There are, however, movies and novels and comics and other genre related entertainment media that we can discuss, analyze, and critically review.

Keyword: entertainment.

To further compound the confusion- as I'm sure you're probably scratching your heads wondering why I'm posting about this- take this bit of commentary: "Cultists, on the other hand, are best distinguished not only by their deep knowledge, but by an idiosyncratic set of critical standards." (Emphasis mine.)

Really? Would you apply this to the members of Heaven's Gate? The followers of Jim Jones? Scientology? I mention the latter for a reason. There is great debate over whether it is a cult or not. You see Scientologist's don't like that word applied to them. Nor do most religious groups. And with good reason. The word "cult" carries connotations that are primarily derogatory. Granted there exists in the vernacular of cinema the term Cult Film but, like space opera, it was most likely not originally implied as a term of endearment.

That may seem like splitting hairs or nitpicking but there's rhyme to my reason, as shall soon be shown in good season, for, you see dear friends, there is more to come ahead, not easily does this blend, for here's the next quote to be read:

"In trying to explain Naschy's appeal, Curt described a sort of genre fandom "double vision." Nobody is blind to the cheesy make-up, occasionally awkward acting, or often heavy-handed "stylishness" of these films. But, for the fans, you see through - not past - these things to the mental world they suggest. In the works of Naschy, it's a darkly seductive alternative universe driven by the erotic and forbidden impulses we confine and suppress in the real world.

I suspect my love of lucha works on almost the exact same principle, only the end result is different. I don't really buy the whole "dark and forbidden thing." When I look around me, I see a world that happily caters to our basest whims. Short of homicide on demand, is there anything we can't pull up on the Internet?"

And I'd like to stop the argument train right there. Here's what the OP fails to understand, these movies have appeal because they are from a era where there was no Interenet. Too many people today are jaded. There's more pornographic imagery available at your fingertips today than ever there was a mere decade ago. There's certain words it's just not safe to type into a Google image search, even with safe search turned on!

But, and here's the news flash, some of us don't care. No, honestly, some of us really don't care about the Internet porn. Some of us, I know this will shock and amaze, perhaps even astound, but some of us actually prefer these old movies because they are from a time before the Internet made us all jaded at the sight of filth. In fact these movies come from a time when we knew filth when we saw it and it was good! Of course these movies aren't filth, never were intended to be, though they sure did keep your eyes glued to the screen hoping you'd see something. You weren't sure what, exactly, but then again even a glimpse of bare ankle or side boobage was really something way back when.

I know every old person says the same thing to the younger generation, that things were better in their day. But seldom has that been truer than today. I'm sorry but when we live in a world where "2 girls 1 cup" has been discussed on TV- not to mention at least half the people reading this sadly know what I am talking about- then check me out of this crazy reality and give me a Paul Naschy movie to watch. Preferably one I haven't seen yet, like Inquisition or a properly framed unexpurgated release of Count Dracula's Great Love.

Just don't call me a cultist because I happen to like watching genre movies. I think that was a poor choice of words. If that makes me a Grammar Nazi, then click your heels and wish for home because I'm not going to apologize. Words have meaning. If you must call me something and can't pronounce my handle refer to me as a fan, a hobbyist, or how about that guy with the fun blog about science fiction movies and stuff?

Have a great day my fellow film fans!

#end of line

1 comment:

Curt Purcell said...

That was a pretty fun discussion--cool to hear your thoughts about it!