From the moment you’re born, your mind begins to develop certain emotions, a lot of which help you determine how to feel about different types of situations. One of these emotions is fear. Everybody is afraid of something in life. However, is being afraid always a bad thing? Given people’s high demand for horror these days, this would turn this problem into a paradox, creating some room for pleasure within horror’s spooky content.
The purpose of this paper is to discuss the reasons why some people like horror, despite its repulsive features. My argument will be based on the idea that people like horror because of the uriosity it awakens and also because horror films allow us to believe in the existence of unnatural beings, like ghosts or demons, which is a key step in the process of discovering unknown truths about our world.
In my exploration of this topic I will discuss two theories from two different philosophers: One of these philosophers is Noel Carroll, who believes that the source of our pleasure from such grotesque sightings might reside in the process of discovery, proof, and confirmation, whereas Berys Gaut, while agreeing with Carroll, believes that even though we might get pleasure from the narrative and the uriosity it causes, the evaluative theory of the emotions suggests that such enjoyment is not paradoxical because the negativity comes from a negative evaluation of the object of the emotion, not from intrinsically negative emotions.
The first reason Carroll gives to solve the paradox of horror is that pleasure derived from horror fiction and the source of our interest in it involves the process of discovery, proof, and confirmation. According to Carroll, the curiosity that these fiction works awaken in humans is directly related to our way of reacting to unknown phenomena, or how Carroll calls it in his article, monsters.
According to Carroll, monsters are fascinating to us because they violate our classificatory schema. Us humans, even though there are multiple theories that affirm the existence of spirits and ghosts, cannot completely say that these things exist because they are not easily visible. However, seeing the possibility of their existence in horror films, strengthens our believes towards the. With this in mind, it is easier to understand why horror gets the best out of us.
Experiencing horror allows us to enter a different kind of reality. A reality that, most of the time, does confirm the existence of the paranormal. Additionally, Carroll supports his argument by including his idea of postponing the conclusion about the monster’s existence until the end, claiming that our curiosity is increased when the film puts off the conclusive information about the monster’s existence for quite a while.
This also suggests that our need to find out about this monster is understandable. Once a person is engaged in a novel or a movie, having in mind that whatever this work of art is it’s actually fulfilling its purpose to scare, the description of this supernatural being’s existence in this reality orks as a “mental enzyme,” speeding up the process of our need to discover the truth about the monster, and whether or not the characters can finally overcome it.
Even though horror can be portrayed in different ways, Noel Carroll’s target is the paradox of horror in fiction. Horror films, for example, take viewers to a whole new perspective given that they usually involve a narrative in which a monster is shown as an obstacle that the characters in the film try to overcome. For example, in the movie “The Conjuring,” Lorraine and Ed Warren try to find out what kind of spirit is haunting the Perron’s esidence, so that they can try to make it go back to its realm.
Not only does Carroll believe that the monster’s identity plays a crucial role in our aesthetic experience, but also that the locus of our gratification isn’t the monster as such, but the whole narrative structure in which the presentation of the monster is staged. I believe that the way the story is told contributes the most to making such an experience pleasing, outweighing it’s intimidating characteristics. The fact that a monster can make us feel like we’re having a good time has a lot to do with how the onster is introduced to us.
This is why whenever someone talks about having a good experience with a horror movie, I would assume that what they’re trying to say is that he or she was pleased with how the movie made him or her feel. Berys Gaut, on the other hand, while giving his own conclusion and his opinion on Carroll’s attempt on solving the para horror, believes that the simplest, most straightforward explanation of the phenomenon of horror is that sometimes people just enjoy being scared.
Referred to it in his article “The Paradox of Horror” as the “enjoyment theory,” this idea asserts hat a people are attracted to horror simply because they can enjoy being scared and disgusted. This theory also explains how the genre has as its self-conscious aim, the production of fear and disgust in its audience, and it has become increasingly sophisticated and successful in achieving this end. I believe this is exactly right. People who love to watch horror movies, enjoy that activity because of the pleasure the film offers them.
Nevertheless, in order for a person to enjoy fear or an experience that scares them, they necessarily have to be mentally strong. Otherwise, horror would turn into a terrifying xperience with no aesthetic pleasure whatsoever, disallowing the audience to feel in control due to the lack of separation of fear from the experience, making it too real for them. All this confusion has lead me to bring up the following argument to at least begin the process of discovering why horror offers so many people aesthetic experiences.
Agreeing with Carroll, I believe that some people have an enjoyable aesthetic experience from horror movies because it allows them to explore the unknown. The supernatural has always intrigued humans, and it has lead many to go out and try to find answers, hich brings up my next point. Given that these supernatural of matters have induced people to find answers, it can be assumed that the unknown is one of the contributors of curiosity for learning about out of this world phenomena.
If it didn’t cause curiosity, then nobody would have wasted time in searching for the true nature of ghosts, demons, or other supernatural beings. Given that these people spend so much time trying to uncover the truths about the supernatural, it could be said that they enjoy looking for these answers, for nobody spends a lot of time researching for something they’re not interested in. If they enjoy looking for these answers, and enjoying something means one feels pleasure off of it, then this quest for truth is pleasurable for such people.
So, curiosity is what drives the human mind to discover new pleasures. One of the goals a person has in life is to have as many pleasures as possible, in order to live a “good life. ” Therefore, people enjoy horror because it awakens their curiosity, which consequently causes them to feel pleasure as they find out the truth about its content. I understand that my account on horror is not absolute. That is why some people might object to it by bringing forward ifferent ideas.
A possible objection to my argument might be that people do not really enjoy horror movies because it offers them an exploration of the unknown, but instead because it teaches them ways to prevent it if they ever came across it. Although this objection is correct, it still does not negate the fact many people are attracted to horror so much. The people that experience horror, to look for ways to prevent it from happening to them, would also classify the experience as enjoyable, given that it provides them with information on how to protect themselves from whatever supernatural being is nvolved in their experience.
For these people, protecting themselves serves as a means to staying alive, which would mean that if these people consider staying alive a reason for watching horror films, and the movie does provide them with information regarding their future survival, the movie would be fulfilling its purpose for said people, which would consequently mean that the movie would be considered an enjoyable experience for them.
Therefore, experiencing something from the horror genre would be fulfilling its job on both views. Horror is the most famous genre in film to this day, as well as he one that makes philosophers doubt themselves the most in the philosophical community. How can people enjoy horrific images? Isn’t that a contradiction?
Well, maybe some people just enjoy horror because it places them on a path of discovery of unnatural things or simply because they are able to experience it aesthetically, as long as they’re minds are up to the task. It could be broken down to simple terms and just say that horror produces pleasure for some people. If the curiosity for discovery allows you to be happy while looking for hidden truths about horror, then it’s gruesome content does not really matter at all.