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Skräckskönt: en etnologisk studie
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Culture and Media.
2006 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The aim of the present study is to explore how horror movie fans use the films to gain access to certain emotions, and the discussions to which the movies give rise. Through this, I hope to attain a deeper understanding of how the horror movie fan chooses to view the genre. While horror movie fans experience a raft of emotions as they watch, this is not the whole story; they also reflect upon these emotions and question certain responses, eg. why laugh at one form of violence but not the next, or how can one killer elicit empathy in the viewer while others do not. In order to understand this popular genre I have based my thesis mainly on interviews with the actual horror film fan, here represented by 9 women and 11 men.

Special emphasis in the theoretical body is placed on Bakhtin’s notion of the grotesque, a ”world turned upside-down”, and dialogical truth. The horror movie fan might be described in the same fashion – as someone who through the films he watches sees and acknowledges an alternative cultural system which is otherwise suppressed. They can experiment with ideas of other kinds of rules, norms and hierarchies than those already in place in society.

The horror movie fans talk about special themes as more important than others, and these “key symbols” have helped in constructing the thesis. I have for that reason formed the analysis in the region of emotions like fear, disgust and desires, but also more intellectual discussions on film violence and evil. It is clear that a controlled sense of fear is one of the main forces sparking the initial interest the informants felt for horror and urging them forward in their quest for more. It is also clear that feelings of disgust the horror movies evoke are a part of the fans’ discussions about the world and the evil therein. The horror movie fans speak about evil as something inherent in everyone, and something which must be acknowledged in order to live a “full” life.

Despite of all this I consider pure enjoyment and entertainment to be the very foundation of their shared interest, and that the horror movie fans try to make strong distinctions between “fact” and “fiction”. These conscious distinctions could also be one of the reasons that the fans find these types of movies entertaining. Those who are incapable to make these clear distinctions are therefore, more or less, unable to see the purpose of the fascination with horror narratives.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
h:ström - Text & Kultur , 2006. , 201 p.
Etnologiska skrifter, ISSN 1103-6516 ; 39Serie Akademi, ISSN 1653-9575 ; 2
Keyword [en]
horror film, media ethnography, film audience, popular culture, fan culture, film violence, film, Bakhtin, the grotesque, carnival
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-948ISBN: 91-7327--000-8OAI: diva2:145162
Public defence
2006-12-15, Hörsal G, Humanisthuset, Umeå, 13:00 (English)
Available from: 2006-11-29 Created: 2006-11-29 Last updated: 2009-11-03Bibliographically approved

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