1. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Horror Why are the women usually the victims in horror?

    Discussion in 'By the Genre' started by Link the Writer, Oct 15, 2011.

    Well, Halloween is coming, and I can bet you there's gonna be yet another horror movie where [insert scary thing] is going to torment a young woman.

    May I ask why? Why do we almost never get a horror story where it's the guy being tormented by the serial killer, ghost, demon, etc?

    I'm just curious.
     
  2. Berenice
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    Berenice Member

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    Because the majority of paying moviegoers are 17-21 and male?
     
  3. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think it plays to two things: first, the protective nature of men. I'm particularly strong with this. I'm extremely protective of my little sister and a few of her friends who are also my friends. I'm not saying that it makes men feel good to see women persecuted. I'm saying that it can give you a sense of hopelessness, knowing you can't do anything about it.

    Second, the vulnerability of women. I'm not saying women are naturally vulnerable, but there's no denying that a lot of them are prone to feeling vulnerable. Perhaps I'm coming across as sexist, maybe women who read this won't like me, but I think it's true. Nobody likes to feel vulnerable, but I think that after something gets inside of you and really affects you, women are more prone to being affected by it long term than men are. That's not absolute.

    It's like grudges. Women are (or have been) more likely to hold grudges, whereas men are more likely to get it out of their system and move onto other things. Again, that's not absolute.

    Still, maybe I'm wrong about this. Maybe the film industry thinks women are just weak. I think my explanation, particularly the first point, is a bit valid, though.
     
  4. Berenice
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    Berenice Member

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    Yep, you are being quite a bit sexist there :) Indeed, I was thinking for a moment of stating that I for one (woman here) would really love to see a few cute male victims on occasion. But then shrugged, because - as I said - the main audience for this type of movie is male and very young.

    And the film industry panders to this kind of audience with (usually at some time half or really nekkid) female victims that this audience wants to see in that exact state. What is interesting, and ought to be noted in this respect, is that those female victims never are old or fat or ugly. So, it's really very simple, isn't it?
     
  5. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    <--- Man here.

    I would love to see horror movies where the young male's the one being tormented by demons.

    Plus, and I don't mean to stereotype or offend when I say this: If a man's helpless and at the complete mercy of a demon/ghost, you know things are REALLY screwed.
     
  6. Quezacotl
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    Quezacotl Contributing Member

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    The media wants to reinforce an image, hyperfeminine women and macho men are natural. Movies need to cater to popular culture, movies need to promise a profit to be made.

    A young man tormented by demons would be interesting, I agree. There are plenty of demons that can be used - succubi among others - but this would be a hard sell to the movie industry. The basic idea can work - Inception has this to a certain extent - but I would pay to see this movie when its made solely on this idea.
     
  7. JSLCampbell
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    JSLCampbell Member

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    I don't think it's so much that it's only popular for women to be put in such a vulnerable situation like that, but more like it's not popular for men to be, in the eyes of the target audience. There are plenty of tough women that are popular. Terrorised vulnerable men however haven't really hit it big time as main characters.

    It's much more popular for a male in that situation to die epically being tough to whatever's terrorising it
     
  8. Berenice
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    Berenice Member

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    Actually I tend to already resent the stereotype of having to be "terrorised" - regardless of whether a female or male character. It is possible to create a horror scenario without that. As to males, I just remembered "Donny Branko," that one wasn't so bad.
     
  9. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't understand that point of view. It's horror. A staple of that genre is that you get scared by it, and unless you're doing something experimental and weird, then the majority of narratives (read: all of them) will involve characters being scared. It's how we, as an audience, know how to feel. If something scary is happening and the character isn't getting scared (read: terrorised (I think you're looking at the word too strictly and not the meaning)), then it's bad horror.

    Then again, you can have characters getting "terrorised" and it isn't scary at all. I watched the Exorcist the other day and was extremely disappointed by the end of it. I knew I should have been scared because the characters were scared, but there was maybe one or two flinch-worthy moments, and the rest was mildly creepy. It wasn't even something I'd call a horror, yet it's acclaimed as one of the top horror films of all time. I wasn't horrified. At all.
    Keep in mind, I scare easy. I get nightmares easily. The Exorcist is piss poor.

    So, again, I don't really understand your point of view. You say a character being "terrorised" is a stereotype. I don't think it is. I think it's just more of a defining feature. You wouldn't call a car race in a racing movie a stereotype; it's necessary to the genre. Same goes for horrifying circumstances in horror.
     
  10. Quezacotl
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    Quezacotl Contributing Member

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    I cannot think of any. Please enlighten me.
     
  11. Raki
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    Raki Contributing Member

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    I agree with cruiciFICTION to a degree. In a lot of films, men have been placed in the role of the doer, not the receiver (meaning they usually drive the plot forward). The receiving or passive role usually falls to the female. Incredibly sexist comment, yes, but it's also, in large part, the truth of film (not one that I particularly believe is right). Think of how many times females are given the spotlight only so the camera can work its way up the female body. In comparison, how many times does that happen to male characters in films? Think of how women, in general, are portrayed in films with regards to the following: close-ups, extreme close-ups, establishing shots, eyeline match, mise en scène, pans and tilts, where the shots begin and where they end, etc. Now, as an example, think of all three recent Transformer films and the roles of men vs. women there. Now, Transformers isn't horror and I think the director has often been criticized about his view of women. This doesn't necessarily mean the sexist views of the film industry change when you jump across genres. They can and sometimes do change when you jump from director to director, and there are many exceptions.

    My point is that somewhere/somewhen it has been researched that a woman in harm's way triggers that protective nature in men (damsel in distress, anyone?), and as has been said, the majority of moviegoers are young males and that's the market Hollywood usually tries to cater to (more money in it). It's not a technique used, I think, to make the audience "feel good," but to keep their eyes on the screen, to keep them involved.
     
  12. JSLCampbell
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    JSLCampbell Member

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    Well I wasn't referring to Horror specifically, but the more rugged, independent female framework isn't uncommon now (lara Croft springs to mind).

    If the horror story is perhaps designed so that secondary characters are victims, while the main character enters the story to perhaps solve or tackle the antagonists, that role could be assumed by both a male or female character, because strong intelligent female characters can be popular. If the story is such that the main character is terrorised, tormented or eventually killed, that role can probably only be filled by a female, because a male filling the role of the victimized, vulnerable target would likely be unpopular, especially to the audiences we're talking. If he main audience is 17 - 25 year old males then both a tough or victim female character would be popular, while a tough male character could be identified with or aspired to. A victim male would be dismissed - probably by a number of female viewers as well.

    My point is that this is more of a case of male victim characters being unpopular, so only female characters can play the role.
     
  13. Quezacotl
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    Quezacotl Contributing Member

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    It's not uncommon, but it is popular?
    Okami, Bayonetta, and Croft have had their moments of fame, but what did they leave behind: softcore porn.
    What's current (and thriving): Ninja Gaiden, Dead or Alive.
     
  14. Berenice
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    Berenice Member

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    The screeching terrorised female is a staple, a stereotype. And I am sick to my backteeth watching this. I've been in my share of extremely horrific situations in real life, and no, I wasn't diddle-brained and breathy-screamy or terrorised out of my skin and I don't consider myself some marines type either.

    Horror is possible without this, watch e.g. "Don't Look Now" by Nicholas Roeg and "Alien" certainly was very hefty, yet the females in it were not exactly damsels in distress screaming their throats raw in hapless terror. ;-)
     
  15. spklvr
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    spklvr Contributing Member Contributor

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    Though doesn't the traditional, "scary" teen horror movies go like this: random slutty girl dies doing something slutty, random celebrity cameo dies, black guy dies, bitch dies, boyfriend of the protagonist dies, then the smart girl that doesn't give up her virginity saves the day, only it turns out the killer/monster/whatever is still out there so that an even crappier sequel can be made?
     
  16. Berenice
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    Berenice Member

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    In a nutshell.

    Which reminds me of "Nightwatch," that one had a nice male prot and in the original version it was even a classy horror movie.
     
  17. Jhunter
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    Jhunter Mmm, bacon. Contributor

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    Hostel, Saw 1 - whatever it is up to now, True Blood, The Walking Dead, The Rite, Black Death, Vanishing On 7th Street, Insidious, Don't be Afraid of the Dark, Scream 4, Dylan Dog: Dead Of Night, Priest, and Final Destination 5. The list goes on, my point is, all of these movies either have males getting screwed with or an equal amount of men and women. You can see the list I (barely) browsed here: http://www.movie-moron.com/?p=14023

    P.S. This list is just horror movies from 2011.
     
  18. Gracia Bee
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    Gracia Bee Member

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    OMG YOU ARE SO RIGHT!!!!!! Just because people think men are strong and all Hero-y. They think women are weak and easy to prey on!!! GRRR!! FEMINIST!! UNITE!!!!!!!!
     
  19. Kio
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    Kio Contributing Member

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    In Okami the MC was a wolf, but, yeah, the cast did provide plenty of fanservice as well as enforced gender roles.

    What comes to mind when I think of a strong female MC in a videogame is Metroid, though whenever Samus comes out of her suit I shake my head. Does Portal count? I mean, Chell doesn't speak, but she's still cool, imo [/nerd rant]

    As everyone else said, women are seen as vulnerable whereas men are seen as brave and stable. Horror movies are hardly revolutionary; most of them often aim for shock value. I'm speaking from a bias point of view, so for those who love them some blood and guts, excuse me.
     
  20. Unit7
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    Unit7 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah but in horror, isnt it usually the guys who are usually all dead before the movies end? Its usually the female character that outlasts everyone else.

    Atleast I think. Its been awhile since I saw a slasher movie or a horror movie in general like this. But I remember for the most part the guys in Halloween were pretty much all dead. Well Loomis and the sheriff guy, but Laurie was still alive at the end.

    So while they are often the main victim, chances are they are going to survive till the end. At the very least last the longest.

    But like I said. Its been awhile. :p
     
  21. Batgoat
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    Batgoat Senior Member

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    It's a movie. Therefore eye candy is needed to focus the short attention span of the demographic these movies are targeting. And yes, it is the young, virile menfolk with raging hormones who need fast, easy on the eye action.
     
  22. Quezacotl
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    Quezacotl Contributing Member

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    I love Okami and hate Rule 34. I'd rather not get into it.

    I prefer never to mention Other M, its team Ninja. They always have good gameplay and always have terrible characters. Samus was weak whenever they tried to characterize her.
    I'm not familiar with Portal, sorry.

    On Topic:
    It looks good to men. And men are kinda terrible at understanding the feminine mind - and sadly, there's a lot more men controlling the media than women. Once the ratio begins to even out, we will see the change.
     
  23. S-wo
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    S-wo Active Member

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    Okami? Yeah Ammy's a female, but not human and I don't think the game would have changed at all if she was a he.
     
  24. Peerie Pict
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    Peerie Pict Contributing Member Contributor

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    You hit the nail on the head. Men control the film making industry. There are a few exceptions, but by definition they don't disprove the rule. I find the horror genre pretty sexualised and the 'chase' & violent death of young pretty women is thinly veiled sexual violence. I wouldn't have thought this if it hadn't been for the saturation of rape scenes and sexual violence that has flooded the market recently. You see young women who are characterised as being 'sluts' (not a word I use lightly, I mean that we are meant to think of them this way because of the way they act and the clothes they wear). They 'lead men on' in some way and eventually get struck down for it (and recently, with some gratuitous rape scene thrown in). You just know if you see a blond girl in a short skirt "she's dead".

    Similarly, the female characters who are portrayed as 'virtuous' or 'virginal' get a chance to live (i.e. Sydney in the Scream films). While their 'slutty' friends perish. Men who die in horrors are usually either old, weak, or gay. Even so, they die much less frequently than women.

    Strikes me as a whole lot of dark male fantasies being played out in glorious blood and guts. These highly gendered and sexualised roles are infinitely scarier than the actual gore we see on the screen.
     
  25. Berenice
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    Berenice Member

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    Yep, the Ellen-Ripley interlude was short and never reached the slasher movies. And still, for once I'd just love to see the sexually active, "slutty" girl survive, and the prim virgins get the axe.

    I so adore the original "The Wicker Man" because of these. In the full version we get a male but undeniably virile and valourous virgin who dies a horrific death, with a broad variety of ultimately very sex-positive islanders of either gender not just surviving, but getting their proper goals. It turned this little gem into a truly intelligent movie (and it's still considered by Chris Lee to be his absolute best).

    I can't say how much this idiotic belief enervates me by now. I've encountered it so often lately in YA novels that I gag every time I read it.
     

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