Let Villains be Villains

Last November, Charles Manson finally passed away. Right around the time he died, the internet was flooded with people saying “R.I.P. Manson” and “so sad to see him pass” and other completely tasteless, idiotic things.

As you can probably tell, I have no sympathy for this man. He was a monster who literally brainwashed children to kill for him.

Now, I have read Helter Skelter and watched as many documentaries as I could find on the Manson Family, their crimes, and the following legal battles. I do find the story of Charles Manson fascinating and I’m probably safe in saying that I know more about him than the average citizen.So, in retrospect I guess it wasn’t a huge surprise when an acquaintance asked me if I was sad to see Manson die.

Of course not I wasn’t sad to see him die, I told them.  

Well, I know you like serial killers, they responded.

Which was fair, so I couldn’t really be offended. However, that conversation got me thinking about a recurring problem I’ve seen amongst true crime and even some horror movie fans: the inability to separate fantasy and reality.

Now, before I start talking about my theories behind this behavior and whatnot, I would like to acknowledge that some of these assholes are just that, assholes. I’m pretty sure most of us went through that “I’m so complex and no one understands me” phase when we were determined to shock our parents into thinking we were edgy. Thankfully, most of us grew out of that, but just based on the number of tweets I saw mourning Manson or the many Tumblr accounts I’ve seen that post artsy photos of the Columbine killers, I know some of us didn’t. These people are just looking to cause drama and, instead of dying their hair blue and piercing their face, decided to spit on the memories of these criminals’ victims.

I have thankfully matured enough to realize how tasteless that is and opted to pierce my lip and buzz my head instead. This way I’m only hurting myself while I show the world how edgy and cool I am. I might crochet throw blankets and sing show tunes to my ferrets, but I’m a bad bitch and my hair proves that.

Anyway, I should also admit that the people out there mourning Manson and fawning over the Columbine shoots are extreme cases. I don’t really need to prove that these people are being assholes. However, this trend of blurring the line between fantasy and reality also shows up in more subtle ways and it’s having a weird effect on the horror and true crime genres.

You ready for me to dive into some pseudo-psychological bullshit, Daniel? Brace yourself.

I think we as a culture have a difficult time understanding how to handle the concept of evil. We see things as black or white, good or evil, and therefore when we come across something that’s “evil” that we enjoy it’s hard for us to handle. We can’t be a good person and enjoy “evil” things, and so that evil thing must not be that evil.

A good, recent example of this was the reboot of Stephen King’s “It” in which the very attractive Bill Skaarsgard played the killer clown, Pennywise. I know you’re not on Tumblr, Daniel, so you’ll just have to take my word for it when I say Tumblr was ridiculous in the weeks following that movie’s release. The amount of extremely sexual Pennywise fanart and fanfiction that appeared on my Tumblr dash was unreal.

I won’t deny the fact I played into the mania a bit myself and made my fair share of “Float me, daddy” jokes. But that’s exactly what my comments were, jokes. I know that Pennywise is evil and that, given the chance, I would also shove a metal fence post through his face before I would ever hop into bed with him. Some Tumblr users on the other hand seemed to be crossing that line from harmless joking into actually wanting to sleep with this murderous, Lovecraftian monstrosity. A tad concerning in my opinion.

What I think happened is that, after seeing the movie, these people decided they liked Pennywise. Well, Pennywise is evil, which means they must be evil, but they’re not evil so instead Pennywise must not be that evil. So, in order to justify their love for this killer clown, these people just opted to pretend he wasn’t that bad. I’d bet that the same kind of logic is used to justify loving serial killers and criminals.

However, the world isn’t black and white. Liking a character/person/thing that is evil does not make you evil. It makes you human. It only becomes evil when you decide ignore the despicable things that character/person/thing did in order to justify your fascination with them. I can enjoy the story of the Manson Family, read Stephen King novels, and watch gorey horror movies and enjoy them while still understanding that these people are evil, that what they’re doing would never, ever be acceptable.

Basically, this entire argument boils down to the idea that you can like a villain and not necessarily be a villain. Let your bad guys be bad guys.

I feel like this is getting a bit rambly. I think I’ll cut it here and maybe pick this up in my next SDoS post. I have lots of thoughts about scary stories I want to share. Might just be time to bite the bullet and go back for my master’s in scary stories.

-EMS

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Five Nights at Freddy’s Kept Me from Writing

So Daniel, do you want to know what I did instead of writing last night? What I did instead of writing over lunch today at work? What I’ve been doing this evening? Well, I won’t say I completely wasted my time, I did get a lot of work done today in the office and I cleaned the ferret cage, but a majority of my time was watching Five Nights at Freddy’s theory videos on Youtube.

You heard me right. Instead of working on a blog we’ve literally been running for more than two years, I obsessed over a fucking video game franchise that probably should have died four years ago after the second game came out. I literally watched all of Markiplier’s playthroughs of the games, including all of his “hard mode” playthroughs and the extra videos which just replayed his best jump scare reactions. Then I watched every single video on Game Theory about the game, fascinated by how the six games and two books came together into one cohesive and horrific timeline.

I’m almost ashamed to admit I’ve also been watching Markiplier play through all of the FNAF knock offs, including Five Nights at the Chum Bucket, a fucking Spongebob reboot of this god forsaken game. I went from zero to fully addicted in the span of like three days and I haven’t even played the games. But don’t worry, I’ve got the books on hold at the library because I cannot help myself.

Is this a symptom of my obsessive compulsive order? Now that I actually recognize what OCD is, having meticulously destroyed my skin while coping with anxiety, I rarely use the term OCD in a joking way, like using it to justify my need to have the TV volume on a multiple of five. But this habit of mine, this burning hot and heavy on an obsession for a few weeks and then dropping it quickly, feels like a compulsion. Maybe it is?

Anyway, this is not meant to be a sad post about mental illness. Let’s get back on track.

In retrospect, I should have known this would happen. If I had read the synopsis of FNAF before I just happened to click on Markiplier’s video, I would have pegged it as my future obsession.

Initially I had ignored it, writing the game off as a Hot Topic-esque trend for preteen edgelords, but now that I’ve experienced it, it is so up my alley.

Cute, seemingly harmless things that are actually very dangerous and deadly? A mysterious serial killer luring kids to their deaths using party costumes? Horrible deaths involving machines accidentally crushing their victims and mangling their corpses? Lots of hidden details and Easter eggs that add up to a more complex, horrific story? It’s like it was written for me! I am a self described pastel edgelord. I love skulls and shit, but I can rock the fuck out of a pastel skirt.

Also, it’s basically a B-flick horror movie come to life, filled with cheesy jump scares and purposefully over-the-top effects. If I could go back to 2014 Emily and tell her about this game, I’m sure she would jump on the bandwagon immediately, fuck how popular the game is.

Now, who wants to put bets on how long this obsession lasts? Definitely going to play the games and read the books, how long do you think that will take?

-EMS

P.S. Recently, I’ve been reading a lot of poetry. I’ve always been something of an amateur poet myself and I’ve decided I want to put together a poetry collection of my own. Over the next few months, I might use my SDoS posts to test run some of my poetry. Hope that’s okay! 

I’m also telling you about this now because I need someone to hold me accountable. I can’t spend my time watching FNAF videos all the time. Sometimes I need to write.