This is a topic that I have done my best to stay out of this year for reasons that far surpass those that are already public record. Honestly, I would still be keeping to myself but since I keep getting asked for my opinion by related and unrelated parties, I will go into here and let it be the end of it.
I am ALL for a good debate on issues between people who feel passionately about their opinions enough to state them publicly and welcome any rebuttal that comes their way but when things start getting out of control or disrespectful, it becomes annoying to have to witness. Let me say that again. When someone can not handle themselves in a decent manner, it becomes annoying to witness. It may be fun for a second but soon it grows weary and gets played out. It’s like watching a fat kid throw himself on the ground because his Mom won’t let him have a Twinkie. Sure, the fall is funny and maybe the first couple seconds of the slobbering, snotting, whining that ensues, but soon enough you look at them and think to yourself ‘seriously, what a annoying brat’, and walk off. The only ones to remain, point, and laugh are those with a less-than-intelligent mentality who you really have no desire to associate with. (Think about this analogy and count the types of situations you could equate it too. There are many!)
As many of you know, I have been involved with the Women In Horror Month festivities since it started a few years ago. I actually met a few of you for the first time at some of these events. When WiHM was in its conception phase, the aim and spirit of it was absolutely one to be proud of and excited about. It was supposed to be a time for women to get together and celebrate what contributions women had made to the genre while making connections with other like-minded people and meeting new talents that you have not yet been able to meet. This was not a time to give a free fame card to any owner of a set of ovaries or to be used as a personal spring off point. I loved the idea that a group of talented women were going to get together, be able to hang out, celebrate people like Mary Shelley, and do some good for their communities through things like blood, clothing, and food drives. Many of you know what a sucker I am for any type of worthwhile charity/cause so I know this isn’t a big surprise for you. Moving on…
Although this is what it was supposed to me, a few choice people have turned it into something completely different. Yes, it is being used as self promotion by a few people. Yes, it has become the butt of many jokes because of the people who are being celebrated at some of these events. And yes, I am choosing not to partake in it this year. Now before I get screamed at and have some feminist extremists demanding that I be stripped of my vagina, let me explain.
I have very personal opinions about what the term “contributing to the genre” means. I am not among the believers that every woman who has acted in a horror film is a contributor. Let’s be honest, a lot of these women take these roles because they just desperately want to be an actress and this is what they fell into (and absolutely men too but we are talking about WiHM so I am addressing this point). To me, they are women who have acted in horror films. But I think we can agree on the most part that if they had been given a choice to be in ANY genre, they would have hopped on it. This DOES NOT pertain to all of the women, there are some very specific women who chose horror and choose to stay. Therefore, although I have respect for these women who happened upon our genre, I do not see them as contributors to the genre, I see them as contributors to film. I make that distinction and leave it at that.
The people I see as true contributors are the women who have done something profound in the genre to make their mark and became a mainstay (such as Mary Shelley although Frankenstein was written under the Sci-Fi guise) and the ones who dedicate their careers to the genre (horror writers, artists, directors, producers, SFX artists, etc). That is a very broad statement even if it doesn’t seem like it. These are the people that I chose to celebrate. I could ramble about this all day but I need to get to my point.
Since I went through probably the biggest amount of what can only be explained as “B.S.” last year, I decided this year I would be supportive but chose not to create another event. I saw it turning in a direction that I didn’t really agree with and decided to take a break and watch where things go. Enough said. No harsh feelings, no degrading the month, no telling people not to partake, just saying “Good on you, good luck to all, I will be there to show support if you would like but I will not make one.”. I had very well planned to stay silent about it until a friend of mine made a comment that sent people CRAZY! Dear ol’ Chris Alexander of FANGORIA wrote an editorial that can be found in the February 2012 issues saying he would not be making the issue a WiHM issue because he celebrates women in every issue and felt that taking an entire month to just highlight women would be unnecessary. Of course, I am paraphrasing here but you get the gist. In an act of humor, he ended the paragraph with Women In Horror Month…eat it”. When I read that line, knowing Chris and his style as much as I do, I laughed because I knew it was “tongue-in-cheek” but also thought to myself “he is about to unleash the die-hard feminists all over his ass”. And oh, how right I was.
I am going to pause the story there to explain this. I have been sitting back watching these articles pour out for and against the month and some people are completely showing themselves to not only be completely over-the-edge in their respective sides but some of “professionals” have gone too far. I have my personal opinions on who is who but I will let you decide for yourselves how to take it. I have chosen two instances as a point of reference. THIS is why I am talking about it. Once you go too far in defense of your belief by becoming overly angry or overly insulting, you not only LOSE the argument, you make it impossible for anyone to respect the points that you may actually have because of their delivery and being linked in with the ridiculous parts.
Here are some of the examples I will show you.
When it comes to Chris, a contributor from Feministfilm.com released a series of posts about his remarks that actually had some real validity. Statements such as:
“Even though Heidi at Planet Fury (who is on WIH’s Board of Directors) has stated that Fangoria does cover a lot of women (and I would agree), the problem isn’t visibility of women. The problem is consistent visibility of women who aren’t predominantly Scream Queens*.”
YES! I completely agree with that! They go on to state the WiHM manifesto and I am comfortably agreeing with that as well and then the following statement is made:
“To this effect, we (feministfilm) demand that Fangoria feature at least one woman horror director in each issue. We demand that Fangoria feature, additionally, at least one woman writer, producer, artist, musician, creepy doll maker, author, FX artist, art director, or other producer, or woman in other productive capacities, in each issue. If Fangoria is committed to starting to “celebrate the female experience,” we demand that that experience includes women of color—as directors, in productive capacities, and as actresses, final girls, and scream queens.”
Wait, wait, wait. Because the man didn’t want to dedicate his already highly woman-friendly magazine to WiHM and happened to not use the best of judgment with his “eat it” remark, you have the right to DEMAND he does pretty much what he normally does but step it up with forcing him to highlight a set amount of women in different areas in order for you to do what exactly? Forgive him? That last statement put me at a loss. Yes, speaking as a friend, Chris went a little left field with the “eat it” statement but the rest of what he was saying had some validity. He should have used some restraint but then again who am I to make the call of what someone should do? I know what he meant and respects and support what he was trying to say. Apparently, I am alone in that sentiment when it comes to this particular group. As it now states on the site “feministfilm is currently a FUCK FANGORIA establishment” so you may not want to look there for the link to buy the next FANGORIA issue.
Now we turn to the other side of the coin. This was sent to me earlier by a person who simply remarked “Just wow” to it’s content.
Since the conception of WiHM, it has had its critics. Understandably so, not everyone is going to ‘get it’ and if they do and just don’t agree, it should be perfectly acceptable for them to have the opinion. But as I said earlier, it is all about delivery.
Wil from HorrorYearBook.com released an article entitled “Why No One Cares About Women In Horror Month”. The title alone is a little off-putting as many people DO care about it but lets move on. Very early into the article he states:
“Women in Horror Month was cooked up by a bunch of failed artists and filmmakers to make themselves feel better.”
Well, that isn’t very nice. I was one of the people who helped push the month the first year and I really don’t think I am a failed artist OR a failed film maker. (This is the problem with lumping people into general statements).
He goes on to then attack the thought of the “horror community” by stating:
“The “horror community” is a made up term people throw around like “horror journalism”. There is no “horror community,” and if there was, it wouldn’t be some exclusive “no girls allowed” man’s club. What it is is just a bunch of fans who happen to know each other because they all like the same niche thing, but people throw the term community around like their members of an exclusive cult.”
Wow. He sounds angry, doesn’t he? But he keeps going and further down the rant he states:
“WIHM is twice as bad as every month in the “horror community” because it’s not just about people bragging about how much of a fan they are, it’s about a minority group within the fandom bragging about how special they are for being fans!”
This guy seems to be missing the mark. He apparently does not get why the idea of the month was created, but then he states the following and really made me laugh:
“The worst part of it all is that the women who we’re being asked to celebrate aren’t even impressive figures in the genre. Nor do most of them promote positivity towards women in an already horribly misogynistic genre.“
Psssst! Wil, you just stated why some women felt the need to create the month with the “horribly misogynistic genre” line. This is a perfect example of someone who is speaking too much, too quickly, and without enough information to back up some of his claims. WiHM never set out to celebrate “fans” of the genre, it set out to celebrate contributions women have made and make now. That’s just some insight for you, little guy. I hope your day gets better.
I have made other statements on how I feel about WiHM which you can find in the March 2012 edition of FANGORIA magazine so I won’t reiterate them here other than saying some people have come to a place where they have taken something that started out with the best intentions and turned it into a fiasco. This is speaking for both sides of the fence here. When did it become acceptable to degrade something just because YOU don’t agree or degrade someone just because THEY don’t agree with something? The simple fact of the matter is that if someone chooses to or not to do something, that is absolutely none of your business. You keep doing what you do and as long as no harm is coming to anyone, people should learn to keep their noses in their own affairs. I think it is amazing for people who stick to the original ideas of the month to carry out their events and make a positive difference. For those who choose not too, that’s OK with me too. It won’t hurt me if you don’t. I don’t get hurt if people don’t celebrate Thanksgiving when they live in the U.S. so I have no reason to be hurt if a horror insider/fan does not celebrate this. But these personal attacks, venom spitting blogs, and outrageous battles that are being waged in the name of something that was intended to be a positive thing, is only tarnishing the image of the month and of the people doing it. That is a clear fact that should start being taken into account.
For WiHM, I will be doing what I normally do. Doing my best to make positive contributions to the genre and highlight things that deserve to be highlighted. Will it be done in the hopes of celebrating women? Of course. But in that effect, that’s normally what I try to do anyway without pointing it out.
If you choose to celebrate this month, Happy Women in Horror Month! If you choose not to, well I hope you have a great February. Either way, live and let live.