The genre “horror” is relatively new but has a solid history in subverting mainstream genres. When you see it in the theater it’s going to be meaningless because it’s just Hollywood “fun” but real horror, like Killing Stalking, is about critiquing society.
Horror is the genre where disabled people finally got leading roles, it’s the genre that directly criticizes socially acceptable bigotry. If nothing else I think the genre deserves a little respect even for just rape revenge movies. That subgenre began in the 60s/70s, motivated by the civil rights movement of the time, as of horror in which women are attacked and raped but the movie itself is about the women hunting down their rapists and killing them graphically. It was/is a backlash from the lack of support for rape survivors and criticism of the normality of sexual molestation in mainstream films.
That’s not for everyone, I get that. It’s not meant to be for everyone. In fact, it’s intentionally not for anyone when it’s done correctly.
They essentially delivered the statement that: there is a real destructive aftermath to rape and it’s all put upon the victim. What if women just got tired of it? What if women gave in and behaved as men do?
And it can, if a man is sympathetic enough, put rape culture into better perspective for male viewers. They have to identify with the rapist and they don’t get all the fun of seeing the rapist hunt down victims and torturing them, for the majority of the movies it’s about women and/or sexual and gender minorities banding together to kill rapists.
Horror has been used to look at racism in similar ways. There are revenge stories for racism but horror at its best tends to be very diverse because it is indie and made by actual people, not demographic statistics.
Take Night of the Living Dead for example. Putting all the social commentary aside it was a 1968 film that happened to have a black man as the hero.
Ben is just a regular guy that gets swept up in a zombie apocalypse and the majority of the movie is about him being the only one with common sense. He’s constantly trying to keep the white people from getting themselves killed.
These are two things I see people on social media saying they want to see more of: women loving and supporting each other while they murder rapists and a horror film where not only are the black characters not the first one to be killed, Night of the Living Dead is pretty much about how exhausting white people are.
Remember this was the movie that encourage the coining of the Western term of zombies. It’s an appropriated word, probably not coincidentally, from certain African races and it’s one that a lot of people are cashing in on now. This movie started it all and yet the only thing mainstream horror derived from it was the idea that it would be scary of dead people were ambulatory.
Literature and art in general is useless unless it can spark interest and active dialogue. Killing Stalking definitely has done both of those. It starts off as a pretty classic mainstream horror premise but stays true to the genre by making you empathize with everyone, be frightened by everyone, and legitimately not know what’s going to happen because anything could happen.
I could go over a lot of things that the comic presents that I find valuable but let me share two examples from the beginning of the series which are the prime reasons I think people should look at Killing Stalking differently.
This was absolutely agonizing and since it was released I have seen fans talk about domestic abuse, incest, and autonomy.
The conversation has often been of fans talking about how they would get out if they were in a similar situation and trying to reason as to why Bum didn’t leave. Fans benefited from those conversations because they thought about their own escape options and are attempting to understand why someone would stay in such a bad situation because people do. This isn’t sci-fi, this happens to people far more often than anyone is willing to talk about. If more people took time to actually listen to domestic abuse survivors it would be a million times better because we could skip over all of the “did you have it coming?”
“It must not of been that bad if you stayed.”
Seeing NTAB fans trying to understand this scene was awesome. They couldn’t understand how people can see and even be approached by someone who looks in distress and repeatedly turn them away or accuse of being gross for asking for help.
They couldn’t understand why this girl who knew nothing about a guy except that he is disabled would call him a pervert out of the blue.
And they talked about what they would do if they were in her position.
If they were there they would save their precious baby, they wouldn’t be so callous as to judge someone based on the way they look or their abilities. They would take his word for it if he said he needed help and they would go out of their way to help him.
…No they fucking wouldn’t.
The majority of them would act exactly as this girl did, exactly as real people do to us every day, but discussing this makes people less blasé about the association in their head with ableist behavior and it being wrong. They won’t learn the word from this but they see actual representation of a disabled person and the author makes it impossible for you to not empathize with him.
Does this romanticize sexual and domestic abuse?
Do I care?
Sexual and domestic abuse are already romanticized in mainstream media without critical social commentary, if there is any commentary at all. Horror isn’t there for you to consume and enjoy as a sadist, it’s a radical subversion of social taboos made to literally horrify you. It’s made to give you the perspective of victims who constantly have their voices silenced.
Will anyone understand that?
Most probably won’t because it seems like a lot of readers are just now trying horror so I wouldn’t expect them to.
Will there be people so ignorant and/or bigoted that they will refuse to understand?
Will it convince violent people that abuse is okay in the real world?
Undoubtedly, but just as much as a cartoon will.
Will it save lives?
Will it connect people who have gone through similar things and can help support each other like the amazing women in the rape revenge films?
And for some disabled people this is the only type of representation we get and it shouldn’t be taken away from us because ABs people don’t understand it. So stop complaining.