I’m Not Offended.

 

 

Robert McCammon and I at WHC 2013

Robert McCammon and I at WHC 2013

I want to tell you a story. Those of you who are familiar with this blog know what comes next, but for my new friends, this is where I begin my rant. Usually I try to stick with topics that scare me. Today however, I want to share something that disappoints me deeply. I would like to preface this by explaining that I am not easily offended. Anyone who has read my writing can vouch for that. I’m also not opposed to nudity in general, nor am I opposed to nudity in horror films. I love horror films. Gratuitous sex is just part of the bargain. I’m not offended by it at all. Far from it. I’m one of the least prudish people you will ever meet. Of course, after today the fans of a certain well-known horror site might disagree on that point, but we’ll get to that. This post might piss some of you off and I’m deeply sorry about that. No, I’m just kidding, if it pisses you off, you’re part of the problem. Let’s start the story, shall we?

Imagine if you will, a facebook timeline. It could be very much like yours (probably is since we are both horror fans) but it isn’t yours. It’s mine. On this timeline are many posts by horror writers, memes by horror sites, and in general, just a plethora of horror related stuff. It’s a lovely timeline. It sees its share of monsters, blood and gore, and even some nudity. Now climb into my head as we are scrolling this timeline. Do you see it? Good! Imagine, if you will, you come across a picture that gives you pause. We are all familiar with the little twin girls from The Shining. Imagine that same hallway, only in place of the young girls, two adult twins have been poorly photoshopped into the foreground. They are both blonde with headbands and they are holding hands. They are also both completely nude with the exception of a pair of bloodstained knee socks. The tiniest of little boxes cover the necessary bits, but there is a link to the “uncensored version” posted directly below.

Okay, here is where you start rolling your eyes and saying “Come on, C.W.! It’s HORROR. This seriously can’t offend you, can it? You wrote a story about a guy fucking a hole in the ground!” But please stick with me here, I’m not done and I have a point to make. Whether that point is valid or not is completely up to you. Back to the story…

So you see this picture and you realize it is posted by the facebook page of what is known as a respected and highly trafficked horror website. It’s one of your favorites and is generally full of reviews, photos of classic horror movie posters, and all those usual things. You’re surprised, so you click the picture and are directed to the page. You’re still slightly shocked that they would post this. It really has nothing to do with the horror industry and is clearly a blatant excuse to post a rather gratuitous picture of porn. You aren’t outraged, but you’re a little stunned (remember, you’re in my head right now). Then you see the comments on the picture. Now you’re pissed. These misogynistic replies, posted by what can only be politely referred to as basic and crass troglodytes, start to get under your skin. I will share the fine comments posted by these knuckle-draggers later, complete with my own commentary.

But let’s get back to the subject at hand. You may not see my point yet, but I will spell it out for you. The picture was originally shared by a website called Boobs and Blood or some such shit. That’s fine. I’m not offended that they have this picture. It’s clearly not a site for which I am the target audience. Have at it! But it was shared by a site I do follow. It wasn’t on their website, just the facebook page, but that page is representative of this site I once followed and respected. I’m not offended. I’m gravely disappointed. I find it sad that such a respected site, with a broad range and large female fanbase would allow the posting of something so irrelevant to the horror industry. Posters of movies with nudity are relevant. Sure, they are. Gratuitous sex is a staple of the industry. It’s the norm. Full frontal female nudity is not. The most disheartening part of it is that they would willing post something that is potentially offensive to half their fanbase. And if the photo doesn’t bother most women, clearly the commentary that was allowed to follow would make the majority uncomfortable. I know that it is impossible for a site to post things that EVERYONE will enjoy or agree with, but I think a line was crossed here. The picture and ensuing comments gave what was once an enjoyable page for most, a crass frat house atmosphere. Let’s take a peek at some of these comments, shall we?

Eric S. says “Carpet installation. Hahahahaha! Pretty smooth…” Very clever there, Eric. I see what you did with the thinly-veiled reference to the women’s grooming habits. Your mother must be proud.

Michael B. says “One of them actually stole a book of matches and tried to burn off her
pubes, so I… corrected… her….”
Wait, what? What the fuck does that mean? Does anyone else think that sounds rapey?

Lee V. says “best photograph in the world” Clearly Lee’s reading tastes don’t include TIME magazine. I bet he considers the stories in the Penthouse Forum to be fine literary fiction.

There are more along that line, but I think you get the picture. But here’s where the disturbing shit really starts. Enter a couple people who speak negatively about the photo. Let’s look at how their comments are treated:

Jill G. says “What the hell is this? What does this have to do with the Shining? Why
can’t you just have a horror site without parading around naked women? And the
pseudo-pedophilia implied here is more than a little disturbing.”

To which Michael C. responds (Michael is my new favorite. A very special sort of douchebag) “@Jill  Chill out please. It’s a parody on something most horror
fans are familiar with. If not then you almost can’t call yourself a horror
fan. As for the rest of your comment. Those things you mentioned never came to
mind until you spoke of it and I still don’t see it. You have to try real hard
to imagine the pseudo-pedophilia. I think you have serious issues if you think
this image is problematic. And suggest to seek out professional help” 
Um, Nice try. I don’t think so, Michael. You see, I don’t remember the twins from The Shining ever being naked. If you are seeking a true parody of this scene, might I suggest the one featuring Stephen King and Colbert? Now that was funny shit. This is just an excuse to post two naked women.

Nope. Not naked.

Nope. Not naked.

 

Another post speaking out about the picture, Caren says “22,701 Horror fans on this page. How many do you think are women? Glad the guys think this is relevant.”

And the responses. From “The Site In Question” “Probably a lot of women. We have posted things like this before, and have actually gotten good responses from women. If there are men that are doing this sort of stuff, we would post it up there as well. That is just not the norm for the most part. Sorry if it offends you.” Oh, okay. The fact that you would post penises makes this totally cool. My bad. Carry on. But the fact that two women have now commented against it must be about as irrelevant as the picture itself.

The only male response speaking out against the picture, Paul F. says “I have to agree with Caren on this. I don’t really see the relevance of this to horror. It’s simple pornography. You might as well be posting links to Redtube or something. And before anyone gets on their histrionic high horse, no, I’m not gay nor am I a prude, not that that would be relevant to any intelligent debate on the subject. Those that do comment like that, should really question whether they see women as anything more than ‘walking vaginas’. I simply don’t want to open up Facebook, where I connect with a lot of horror authors and horror movie film pages, and see what is basically porn. Which is why I will now unlike the page. Good luck in the future.” Thanks Paul. Nice to see you aren’t all like Michael.

But wait! Here comes that wily Michael again @Paul How is this porn? Go look up what the definition of porn is and then come back and explain it to me. The image here is censored. While it might be slightly erotic it sure is no porn. @Caren  Your comment suggest that all women would have problems with this assuming you represent all women. I know a lot of healty and law abiding women who don’t object to this kind of imagery. And sorry to say but if people make more fuzz about seeing a little nudity as opposed to limbs being chopped off then I am kinda worried. Don’t we all come to this world naked? Honestly people chill out.Yeah! How dare you point out the irelevance of this picture! It’s naked women for Christ’s sakes! We NEVER get to see that. Bite me, Michael. And they linked the uncensored version. They only posted the censored version out of the desire to keep their facebook page, not any nod to modesty or taste.

But, apparently she does speak for some other women. Sumiko S. Says “Your comment suggests that you speak for all women vicariously, Michael
- because you know some women that it doesn’t bother. The fact that it doesn’t
bother some women does not mean that the women and men are bothered by it
should be silenced. People are entitled to have opinions, even ones you may not
personally agree with.

I think you should chill out.”

Okay, enough of that. At this point you might be thinking to yourself, “Come on, C.W. It’s not that big of a deal.” Some of you women may even be thinking the usual things. Men are pigs. Guys will be guys. No. That’s a cop out and you know it. I mean really? You men should be offended by that (though most aren’t because it lets them get by with bad behavior). Seriously, it’s not like you’re intelligent people who can control your actions and words, right? (note, heavy sarcasm intended by author) Women are forced to be okay with this sort of thing all the time, but let me tell you something, just because they remain quiet does not mean they aren’t uncomfortable. The unfortunate side effect of Women’s Lib is that a percentage of women, in hopes of not being lumped in with the more militant feminists, strive to embrace this behavior. They bury their discomfort in hopes of being “cool” or not being “that gal”. Well guess what? I’m okay with being that gal. I don’t give a shit. I’m not a prude. I’m not easily offended. But I’m sad to see this site resorting to this behavior. Right now is a hot time for the Sci-Fi/Horror industry in regards to the treatment of women. I am generally the FIRST to defend the industry amidst many allegations of sexual harassment at cons, disadvantages toward female authors and all the other horseshit that women deal with on a regular basis. I am not a card carrying feminist. You may think it’s wrong to call out all those men and their posts, but don’t worry. Sexist primates like that probably aren’t reading this fucking blog anyway.

But, in the end, it’s their page. They have the right to post what they want. Even if it is completely irrelevant to the industry and potentially offensive to the women on their page. As a former fan, I have a right to react. Their choice has put them in this blog. You know how we writers are. Originally I had intended to leave the site unnamed. But then I read their lame excuses and apologies which acknowledge the picture, but take absolutely no responsibility for posting it.

“We all love watching death, blood and gore…. Don’t let a couple of naked people get to you!!” It’s not the naked people, it’s the absolutely gratuitous reason for the picture on a site dedicated to horror.

“We share a lot of things on this Facebook page. One: its not our website, Two: if you don’t like it, don’t see a point to it, or are really offended by it, tell the blog it came from. Funny thing is we have had more bad comments and people mad about a twilight post than this. Again, we just share things sometimes. Could be a cool t-shirt, hello kitty chainsaw, trailers, or naked people. It’s a big world out there folks…” Yep. A big old world. Full of people. Some are writers. Welcome to my blog.

No, they’re right. It’s not their website. Just their facebook page, which all decent authors know is a huge representative of who we are as a brand. I won’t name the site. No, that would be wrong. But I will include a link to their page. ;) I would like to know what you think. A decent dialogue goes a long way toward resolving issues. Much farther than asking people to chill out, and expecting them to bite their tongue when they see something they don’t like. Maybe it’s an overreaction. After all, it could just be that time of the month. Right guys?

Author’s Note:

Upon some reflection, I have decided to delete the link. Though my opinion on the actions of said Horror Site have not changed, it is not my intention to cause a witch hunt. However, the picture of me flipping them the bird still stands. Thank you~C.W. LaSart

A little "gratuitous" photo of my own.

A little “gratuitous” photo of my own.

 

 

22 Responses to “I’m Not Offended.”

  • Kristin:

    I saw that photo, I am female and had no problem with it. It’s an interpretation of a very iconic horror scene. One a dozen or so I’ve seen through the years and it will surely not be the last. I know you say your not offended but this post sure does make it come across that way.

    • Not offended. Just disappointed in the site. The photo itself isn’t a problem. The comments afterwards leave a lot to be desired. And it has no relevance to the horror genre. Thanks for commenting!

  • Tsk tsk Michael C. with the cred checking. Pornographic parodies of horror do not equal horror, in fact they have approximately the same relationship to horror as paranormal romance does. His caterwauling about how real horror fans would have to all appreciate this porny parody makes about as much sense as saying real horror fans all love Twilight.

  • Lloyd:

    Well, I’m offended. Thinly veiled kiddie porn all “Art’d” up, and disguised as “iconic?” These people did nothing except drive away people… Never gonna go there to do anything again. The skinners and the pedo’s can have it.

  • Apple Ardent Scott:

    I agree with the post. The picture is not about horror, it is about titillation for titillation’s sake. Women have often been exploited within the horror genre (among every other genre on earth), but at least within the context of a horror book or horror movie, the scene includes something horrific (hence, “horror”). The picture in question had nothing horrific, did not draw attention to anything except nude women, and its purpose is clearly only to stimulate the viewer’s sense of eroticism. The fact that it is based on a scene featuring two young children, and roleplays two adult women as sexualized children is in very poor taste (at best)..

  • SomeReader:

    Didn’t you publish a story in 50 SHADES OF DECAY? I wonder what your feelings would be if someone found it offensive?

    • Why yes. I absolutely did have a story in that anthology. I’m not really sure how that relates to this though. Since the book is billed as an erotic zombie anthology, my story was entirely relevant. How exactly, does that relate to a well known site for horror shifting gears and allowing a gratuitous picture of pornography, with no bearing on the industry, to be posted on its page? By the way, did you read my story? No? Well then you don’t even know if it’s offensive. You are merely assuming, and you know what they say about that… Thanks for the comment.

      • SomeReader:

        The photo is relative to horror because it was a re-imagining of the Shining. You clicked the link, even though you knew it contained “pornography,” and now you’re offended. I don’t get it. Why did you click it?

        As a writer, why are you trying to tell other creative people what is offensive or not? Say you win… no more full frontal nudity on internet horror sites, but what next? No reviews of Return of the Living Dead II because it has full frontal nudity? Are you offend by Human Centipede? Maybe we should ban that too? What about horror stories that contain religious ideas, maybe those should go to. Where are you going to draw the line, and who should be the one drawing those lines? I think it should be the artist.

        What if you’re not offended by zombies and erotica, but someone else is? Should your work be called out as “pornography” just because someone doesn’t like it. What are your rights as an artist? Are you going to stop doing what you love because someone is offended?

        Horror has a long history of offending people: It’s too violent. It’s too bloody. There is too much nudity. There’s no plot. From EC Comics to the Exorcist, we’ve heard these complaints before.

        Calls to “clean up” are censorship. If you don’t like it, don’t read, look, listen, or watch it. It’s that simple. If we don’t stand up for speech we don’t agree with, we may quickly find ourselves defending our own art.

        I think 50 Shades of Decay is cool and I think the Shining picture is too. I don’t think that Serbian Film is cool, but I’m not going to tell others that they can’t make their art because I’m offended.

        Horror should shock, frighten and offend… if it doesn’t, its not doing its job.

        • Let me clarify something, I did not click through to the uncensored version. That’s not the complaint. The whole complaint is about the fact they posted the edited version which wasn’t very edited, then posted the link to the uncensored version. I don’t care what Boobs and Blood (or whatever) posts. I strongly stressed that I’m not offended by the photo in general. Rather the inclusion of it on that page.

          That was a very well thought out reply. I don’t disagree on the subject of censorship, but we will have to agree to disagree on whether that post was relevant to the genre. As long as you truly feel the picture is art, or anything to do with the horror industry at all, aside from a barely tied-in excuse to show two naked women, I fear you will not be able to understand the point I’m trying to make. Pornography for the sake of pornography, is just… well, pornography. Pornography and horror are two separate things. Don’t misjudge my message. I’m not saying the photo shouldn’t exist, merely questioning the choice that this site made in posting it on the page.

          Though I appreciate your comments, I fear that neither one of us is going to change the other’s mind. Do they have the right to post what they want? Absolutely. Do I have the right to THIS post. Every bit as much.

          • SomeReader:

            Please don’t feel that I’m attacking you. I really enjoy reading what you think and I believe you have every right to stand up for what you believe in. You will not find me anywhere asking you to stop speaking your mind. I’m posting anonymously because I’m your friend and wish to remain so. With much of the YA push in horror, free speech has become a liability.

            My only point is that you might consider the implications of what you’re asking. You might not say that photo belongs in a horror website, but isn’t that for everyone to decide for themselves? Clearly the website thought it was OK. You were given the choice to click a clearly NSFW labeled photo and you clicked it.

            The horror genre was built on exploitation and nudity. The thrill from those things only amplifies the scares we see on the screen. Even the ancient Greeks mixed sex and horror together, it’s a winning combination which exploits peoples fears and anxieties – and it makes entertaining stories. I’m not telling you anything you don’t know.

            And yes! Women should expect more and horror has given it to them. While other genres made women furniture, horror made them strong independent heroes. It has also allowed them to explore their sexuality and darker sides, unlike any other genre. I can think of no other genre where women are better portrayed. Would a science fiction or western website have a similar picture? Probably not… and women should be proud to have a genre that allows them to exhibit all the facets of being a women… including their sexuality. It’s one of the things that makes horror so great!

            I for one think that this photo is more than “pornography.” It is a fresh look at a piece of iconic horror imagery. In away it represents an evolution from childhood innocence to raw brazen adult sexuality… and reflects the changes in horror as fans demand more and more adult content from the genre.

            As for meathead masochistic comments on the internet… go get ‘em.

            • Thank you. Once again, I think you and I will have to agree to disagree. I understand the need to protect oneself, but please know that if we are friends, you may always feel free to disagree with me and know we will still be friends at the end of the day. And once again, I may have not have conveyed the message correctly, but I clicked the picture on the facebook page, which in turn showed me the comments. I am not hypocritical enough to follow the actual link and then bitch about the image. As I’ve said repeatedly, it’s not the image but the choice to post it at all.

  • frankfrey:

    C.W.

    Several weeks ago, I saw a picture of some cosplay model that had been posted to a page that I frequented on the works of HP Lovecraft. The costume was skimpy and the pose provocative but it was the facial mask that was disturbing to both my wife and I.
    I posted that I found the picture offensive and that I really didn’t see what it had to do with HP Lovecraft, his works or the times that he lived in. Some responses were relatively calm but the majority of them seem to consist of personal attacks insisting that I was some kind of fascist prude. The tone seemed to be one of moral outrage that someone would actually question what they had posted. When I commented about how the picture (and several like it) objectified women, I was told in no uncertain terms to just shut up and if I didn’t like it I should just leave. So I did…
    I have been a fan and amateur scholar of the works of HP Lovecraft for 50 years and a member of the HP Lovecraft Historical Society for almost 5 years. Their FB page used to be interesting but not anymore.
    You have my full support.

    Frank Frey

    • Thank you for sharing, Frank. I’m sorry that people reacted to you like that. It’s sad, but the anonymity of the computer tends to embolden people into reacting in nasty ways when confronted with bad behavior or differing opinions.

  • Great blog post, Caren. Porn that treats women in an abusive manner, rather than as partners in an exciting and mutually erotic relationship, is just plain offensive. Women aren’t punching bags. They are equal cords in the braid that makes sex fulfilling and powerful and almost spiritual in the sense of wonder it imparts. I’m glad to hear your voice speaking out against something that’s clearly meant to debase, rather than uplift.

    • Thanks Joe! I really appreciate the support. As a woman raised in an increasingly permissive society which teaches us to not make waves, to ignore bad behavior and be “cool” about things that make us uncomfortable, it is always a bit nerve-wracking to post something in defense of ourselves. Support from men I respect helps reaffirm the fact that speaking out is the right thing to do.

  • C.W.–

    I don’t blame you. And you’re right: It just seemed like a stupid chance to be juvenile and offensive, especially with the comments afterward.

    And speaking out is always the right thing to do–even if you’re wrong, which you weren’t.

    On a totally different subject: How did it end up doing with the Horror Writers’ Association awards? No matter what, the fact that your fiction collection was given some notice by the HWA is very exciting! And I’m jealous–My published short story somehow fell beneath their radar. :-)

    • Thanks for the comment, Steven. And for the compliment. My collection didn’t make it beyond the preliminary ballot, but it is very gratifying to say that my name was listed next to Joyce Carroll Oates for a short time on a ballot :)

  • Visting your blog during Coffin Hop ~~ I don’t believe I have the right to tell other ADULTS what they should or should not accept as offensive. Censorship is not something I condone. ~~ You thought the photo was offensive. That’s your opinion and your right. You also have the right to “unlike” that Facebook page and never follow it again. Problem solved.

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