Sunday, February 3, 2013

Bad Guy

"The bad guy." On the playground at my elementary school, no kid ever wanted to play "the bad guy." If the game was cops and robbers, nobody ever volunteered to be a robber. When "Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers" first came out, all the kids would want to be Rangers (sometimes settling for Alpha or Zordon), but no one would ever want to play Bulk, Skull, or Rita. There was an unspoken dread that anyone who plays the bad guy is actually a bad guy.

Aladdin (1992)
In first grade, after seeing Disney's "Aladdin" at the movies, my 6-year-old brain wrestled with strange thoughts that made me feel frightened and confused. The protagonist, Aladdin, didn't mean shit to me. He was, after all, a goddamn street rat. The Genie was amusing, but even he wasn't my favorite character. The one who commanded my attention, above all others, was Jafar. "The bad guy." He wore a cool black robe, he had a golden staff that hypnotized people, he was taller than everybody else, and his pet spoke English. Jafar is a badass. During the climax, when he takes possession of the magic lamp and wishes to become an all-powerful genie, my body became covered in goosebumps and my heart pounded in anticipation. All over my skin, transparent peach fuzz stood on end. My knuckles turned white as they gripped the armrests beneath them. Despite feeling Aladdin's fear as he was being smothered by a 400-foot cobra, I wanted to see Jafar prevail. I realized then that I had been rooting for the bad guy all along... which must mean that I am also a bad guy. If the other kids find out that Jafar is my favorite character, nobody would like me or trust me anymore. They can never find out. Even when we played "Aladdin" during recess, even if they asked me to be Jafar, they could never know my secret. So many movies and shows tried to teach me otherwise, but it seemed clear to me that the villains in stories have the most fun.

Horror speaks to me. It's a genre which allows [and often encourages] a story to focus on the villain/ antagonist with as much detail as desired. Whereas antagonists in action films, for example, are often one-dimensional characters, a horror film reveals enough of the antagonist's character so that the audience not only understands why the antagonist is a threat, they feel threatened themselves. Some people like to see movies because it makes them comfortable, but my kind of films are ones that cause me discomfort. That moment where you're sitting in a dark theater and panicking along with a character on screen, when all your body hair sticks up. When you feel like ice cold water is running down your back, where your only comfort in the world is knowing that it's only a movie: that's horror. That's what I live for.

Having been wanting to write about seriously sadistic shit for years now, my insecurities from childhood resurfaced in a new way and prevented me from writing horror. In adulthood, my worry is that that the subject matter of my writings would merely be viewed as a cry for help. It would fucking suck if I spent my time and energy writing horror stories, then some friends and family come across my little writing project and view it as cause to have me confined. Under section 5150 of the California Welfare and Institutions Code, they could hold me involuntarily for 72 hours to perform psychiatric evaluations. Or worse still, maybe a prospective employer will read my words and dismiss me from consideration on the merits that I'm a creep.

Other writers in the horror genre are able to convince their colleagues that they're generally sane people who are not a danger to themselves or others, but how they manage to do that is beyond me. Rest assured, my intention is simply to tell stories; perhaps even to entertain. Horror stories, in my view, are much more than cheap attempts to shock and scare an audience with as much gore as possible; they should provoke thought. They should remove the audience from their comfort zone and stir up raw emotions of fear, anxiety, and survival. The horror genre will be further discussed in the next blog article, titled "The Appeal of Horror."

A good portion of horror stories (mainly films) end with a sense of release and closure; often a sole survivor conquering the villain. Even in horror, the "good guy" usually wins. Now here's my problem: I don't care for happy endings. Being someone who aspires to be a good writer, my aversion to happy endings could be a problem because some people will not like my stories for that reason alone. Many feel a sense of relief when a story ends on a positive note, but having everything wrap up nice and clean doesn't always do it for me. I'm still not sure why, but it could be due to any one of these reasons:
  • Maybe I'm evil. 
  • Maybe I'm just a cynical asshole. 
  • Maybe I like unhappy endings and unlikable protagonists because they sort of rebel against good story structure. It's possible that I'm the only person who likes stories to end in favor of "the bad guy," or on a note of hopelessness and futility. In that case, this blog is merely a learning experience for me. 
  • Maybe I'm an optimist who just wants to make everyone happy. Stay with me. My stories might make some readers uncomfortable, upset, or even depressed, but when they finish reading, their real lives will seem like fairy tales by comparison. 
Bloodscape is my first public blog established for the purpose of sharing my stories and essays with the world, let alone for fans and critics of the horror genre. Your feedback is always appreciated.

Enjoy. You've been warned.


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