Ever since I was a kid I knew that certain peak experiences were capable of changing brain chemistry in a way that made you either want to repeat the experience endlessly or never do that thing again.
These events could be pleasant, joyful, funny, sad, scary, or in the case of a child watching their first slasher film, downright traumatic!
In recent years, I started to notice a pattern among reviewers of The Walking Dead on Youtube. They were all lifelong fans of the slasher horror genre and the closest I had come to consuming something as "outrageously non-suitable for kids" in the UK during my early years was the Hammer House of Horror series, sometimes scary, but a far cry from slasher head-hanging-off-neck gruesomeness.
What shocked me even more was the age at which all of these fans had been baptized with their first slasher gore fest — an average tender age of eight.
Where the hell were the parents?!
This is when I started realizing that a large subset of Americans had grown up on a diet of cheesy slasher horror movies served up every year around Halloween. The rest had sneaked a viewing of some dodgy VHS tape while their parents were out for the night. Maybe an older sibling, an uncle or a babysitter had been the catalyst, but the end result was always going to be the same — a traumatized, under-developed, eight year old innocent mind.
I'm assuming that any sane person would agree (but I'm not sure anymore) that any type of gratuitous pornographic material whether sexual or violent in nature is not suitable for children of any age. Of course, teenagers are going to come across all kinds of content on their journey into adulthood, but their mental ability to absorb such shocks to the system has already formed so the damage is likely to be less. Even so, why would a sane society accept this type of material as some kind of rite of passage ritual? It's all mental filth in the end, right?
And I'm not sitting up here on some high horse. I get a rise out of watching Rick Grimes hack and slash just as much as the next guy. But I'm a grown ass man who's been through the mill. I've seen a thing or two. And I understand that what I'm seeing on the screen is not real (even though many times The Walking Dead has hit me in the feels as if real people had just gone through some really bad shit).
How does an 8 year old process that?
And that's why it's impossible to deny that kids subjected to slasher horror movies have suffered a type of trauma that sets up a lifelong coping mechanism or a trauma loop.
In fact, the Youtubers that I reference all clearly state that they were traumatized by their first encounter with slasher films. I wonder why?!
And, of course, they make light of the occurrence. They joke about it. About how weak and pathetic they were. About how they couldn't keep their lunch down — like the little kid I saw puke during his family's TWD reaction video of the dreaded Glenn head-bashing scene, eyes a poppin' and all.
I mean... really? This is what we introduce our children to now? In a family setting? Sunday night entertainment? For all the family? Popcorn stuff?
I guess the Game of Thrones households had to go through much of the same with all the full-frontal nudity and graphic sex scenes, but there's something gut-wrenchingly wrong about allowing young kids to view the most gory, blood-drenched movies and series ever made that makes a bit of nudity pale by comparison.
And yet content producers such as AMC will block cuss words and nudity while giving the go ahead to series full of extreme violence and gore such as The Walking Dead. The advertising agencies appear to be perfectly fine with depiction of blood and guts, but God forbid that a character drops an F bomb or a nipple gets exposed for one second! That simply won't do.
Of course, the mysterious people in the background that come up with all the rules of engagement demand that a pop up warning screen be deployed at the start of every show and even after every ad break to make sure all the responsible parents out there in TV viewing land scuttle their younglings away behind the couch to protect their innocence. Which I'm assuming happens in less and less households as time goes by judging by the large number of confessions made by fans of The Walking Dead that they all indeed went through the very same trauma initiation ritual at around the eight year mark, some as early as five.
Is quirky entertainment a mask for childhood trauma?
Adults that enjoy rollercoaster rides, Ferris wheels, the ghost train, build elaborate train sets in their attic and so on are all reliving childhood experiences or making up for a lack of fun during their younger years.
For me that was video games for a while. The intense experience I'd had as a child running from one amusement arcade to the next at the county fair or on a trip to the seaside or later as a teenager in the local town was acutely influential in my later "addiction" to modern video games.
These are enjoyable memories and some people get hooked on reliving them again and again because the repetition of dopamine-enhanced experiences during adulthood brings relief and takes us back to simpler times away from life's stresses and strains.
People can develop a fetish for all kinds of reasons, but the slasher fetish in particular is a strange one. Paying hard earned money to watch teen characters get hacked to pieces, chopped up, fed into a woodchipper, chainsawed to death, skewered or squished alive would normally indicate that you have some kind of mental health problem. In this society, it's perfectly "normal" to grow up watching this sort of thing. The more shocking the content, the more love fans seem to have for it.
Slasher fans: Why do you love this genre?
Comments on Reddit answering the question... "Slasher fans: Why do you love this genre?" reveal some of the deep-rooted reasons that people became addicted to slasher films after their initial exposure as opposed to never wanting to watch such material ever again.
Some like the simplicity of the format, nothing too taxing, some like the half-naked young girls frolicking in youthful environments like summer camps, some just like watching innocent and sometimes annoying people get stabbed, others love the gore and special effects the way others appreciate high art. Whatever the draw, admirers of this genre find something that almost turns it into a religious experience for them.
Over time, the cult of the slasher has accumulated an impressive list of entries that inevitably form a bible of sorts for their followers. Titles such as Halloween, Friday the 13th, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Scream and Child's Play constitute the more popular names dropped when fans get all nostalgic.
There are many others...
In my opinion, the love of ugliness and death is a reversal of all that we strive for. Much like the gladiatorial blood baths of ancient Rome or the bullfighting in modern day Spain, the gory spectacle continues in our movie theaters and on our TV screens.
Today, anyone, of any age, can access the most disgusting snuff movie simulations from the comfort of their living rooms. The response is that people can choose entertainment to suit their needs and wants. Unfortunately, the choice is being widened every day to include more and more questionable material from an ever earlier age and this sets the precedent for a very slippery slope indeed. The normalization of all forms of pornography.
If I try to understand what's going on and comment on such things, the fans of bloody gore and guts get uncomfortable. Their heckles go up and they strongly defend their pastime as if it's perfectly "normal," an outlet, a way to let off steam.
I don't think it's normal by any measure to enjoy watching people being torn apart or tortured as a form of entertainment. In the context of a realistic or historical story it may make sense to include such moments, but there are ways to suggest what's happening without actually showing the gory scene up close and lingering on it to make sure even the toughest hombres get queasy and wince.
The lovers of gore will complain that the camera pulled away at the most exciting moment, but that's only because their brain chemistry was set up from an early age — the initial trauma experience — to enjoy the goriest part of the story every single time, the climax if you will. And if it's not present then "the directors are a bunch of pussies" and everyone that calls for less gore in their entertainment "are a bunch of pussies" and simply can't handle what they are able to handle because they were traumatized with such imagery when they were seven or eight and have been reliving that traumatic experience ever since as a way to overcome their trauma.
I actually think we're quite sick as a species. We have the capacity for higher thinking, empathy, knowing the difference between right and wrong, and yet we allow children to be subjected to the worst material that men have produced thereby enabling a trauma fetish loop to be established for the rest of their lives.
And that's without even touching on the subject of extremely violent video games — murder simulators if you will — but that's a topic for another time. I will say that I've never found violence in games to be anywhere near as emotionally intense as scenes acted out by live actors in other media. I think there's an important difference there, but the effect of soaking up this kind of material in one's spare time is more or less the same. The mind becomes what it consumes.
How does this all relate to what we're going through right now in the real world?
Well... Covid: The Psyop is probably the most perfectly executed trauma-based mind control operation the world has ever witnessed and most people are still caught in its spell. The victims, both young and old, were subjected to several years of media and government terrorism.
And much as the slasher fans enjoy watching victims of their favorite serial killers be tortured and hacked apart, it's my belief that the perpetrators of this enormous scam, these real-life psychopaths, also enjoy torturing and maiming the sheep-like people that follow their commands.
In American history, serial-killers, both real and fictional, have, for some bizarre reason, been elevated to the status of celebrities, occupying a special place in the hearts of slasher fans everywhere.
It's my hope that we can reverse this disturbing trend before it's too late. The emerging world is already satanic enough, dystopian enough, nihilistic enough. It's time to make this place safe for children again.