Addiction to Horror in a World of Horrors

When Aristotle first used the word ‘catharsis,’ he probably did not imagine it would still be applied today —roughly 2350 years later— to those who enjoy and chase the feeling of being scared. The Greek philosopher’s initial definition encompassed the release of negative emotions through the climax of a tragedy, which would often depict violence and drama in a safe and controlled environment. This release of anxiety and negativity would lead to better health, as negative emotions were finally purged.
          Horror movies offer a sense of emotional release, or catharsis, by providing the audience with drama, tragedy, terror, and sometimes even straight-up gore in an environment where the viewer gets to experience all these emotions in the safety of their own home, rather than having to live through such life-threatening experiences to receive an ounce of this catharsis. However, in a world such as ours, how could someone chase the catharsis they experience from horror movies, while the world around them is burning with real-life horrors?
          Especially in today’s day and age, it is impossible to be oblivious to the going-ons of the world when the media is there to voice any and all opinions on every possible subject. When a person is constantly being bombarded with encounters of wars, racism, genocides, inequality, and all other sorts of bad news, it is no surprise that they try to look for a distraction of sorts; an escape.
          Horror enthusiasts watch scary movies as a way of escapism because the world is tragic, cruel, and unfair. In doing so, they find themselves stuck in a vicious cycle, as chasing the catharsis is like chasing a drug; it will make you feel better, but it’s not forever. When the reality of our world comes creeping back in, we feel the need to escape from it and follow the catharsis of fake horrors in our safe, controlled environment. In a way, the word ‘addiction’ makes sense: it’s the endless chase to feel better in a dark reality.


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