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I understand how and why horror movies captured the imagination of most Americans. World War II ended and the biggest monster of them all, Adolf Hitler, was vanquished. Then a bit later, the Cold War began and we started to consider the first ventures into space (and the possibility of seeing and meeting others from other planets). Horror stories of varying sorts began to happen more and more frequently at your local drive-in, movie house and on your late, late shows, right before the end of the broadcast day.


People moving from cities into the suburbs meant that life for them was calm, peaceful, protected. But it also meant their lives were mundane, homogeneous and dull. That's where horror movies did their job.

See, horror films, more than any other genre of cinema, are all about reacting. The characters are in a situation, a circumstance and are dealing with it however they can with whatever they can do. It's a chase scene, a destroy or be destroyed scenario, with all the "fight or flight" defenses on full display. There's usually not a lot of thought involved in the plots of these films. There's simply no time for it. It's all about the action and reaction.

And now you can understand why I found 2014 such a miserable year.

The One Four, for the bulk of it, was a horror movie come real. Between the computer hacks, the police killing unarmed citizens, a citizen killing unsuspecting police, and all of the politics surrounding all of that and more, people, in great measure, didn't act. They reacted, and they reacted without thinking. They reacted with only themselves in mind. They reacted as they focused on the issue they felt was important while they overlooked (intentionally or otherwise) what the repercussions of their actions would be.

Maybe you don't like all of the protests that occurred in the wake of the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown. Perhaps you think criticism of the officers that drew their guns and fired on people without weapons was misguided and is directed at anyone wearing a police uniform. If so, you are on that long list of people who are reacting, rather than thinking. And it's that kind of stuff that makes the horror continue, far longer than it otherwise might have.

Nothing happens in a vacuum. And actions taken will result in reactions. But nobody who is sane wants to live in a horror movie. In a horror movie, you could be the next person to go. You might have to decide between living and dying in a split second. And you might have to do it over and over.

But, and here's the but nobody talks about, isn't this what war is all about? If you're in a war, there really is no time to think. It's all reaction. It's all scrambling to stay alive. And a society that is dealing with war doesn't have time to think, to create, to negotiate, to grow, to understand, to expand, to inspire or to cherish.

The United States, for all of the self-congratulatory rhetoric, has only ignored the issues of horror both within our own borders and in the countries where we have backed one side or another of a battle. The idea is not to have war go on and on! Who can live with bombs going off at any moment? And who can deal with a public servant, wearing a badge and sworn to uphold the law, gunning down citizens like a bullseye game at a carnival?

There are a lot of other issues on the horizon that deserve and will eventually demand our attention: the hacks that have happened this year for Apple and Sony are real wake up calls that cyber attacks are going to be a part of our virtual reality from here on out. And shouldn't we be focusing on helping each other, not ignoring the problems to retain a Status Quo that should have ended more than a half century ago?

The fact that any Police Officers turned their back on Mayor Bill de Blasio when he eulogized Officer Raphael Ramos is a reaction, a negative and distancing reaction to continue to ignore the problems that created the monster that killed one of their own. Where is the thinking? Where is the understanding?

We expect those that hold positions of power to be a little less reactive and a little more level-headed. They should be held to a higher standard than ordinary citizens, because they have more responsibility than ordinary citizens. And if they cannot handle their positions, they should be removed from them. That's why President Obama is so incredible. He continues to keep his cool, even when things are spinning out of control. I can't imagine how a President Romney would have handled how this year went.

So, yes. For me, 2014 was a horror movie. We have to begin to talk, to listen, to understand and to work together to make sure that 2015 isn't the second half of a double feature. Because we all know horror movie sequels suck worse than the first.

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
dmousey
Dec. 31st, 2014 09:28 pm (UTC)
I agree with every word of this very eloquent essay. The only addition I make to the horror of 2014, is that America is moving closer and closer to a third world caste system.

A majority of our country's problems have also been caused by the sequestering of, and then cutting off educational and economic resources to the most needy among us. Minority neighborhoods being the first to often receive that neglect.

The election of Congress 2015 does not bolster my confidence that anything will change the trend.

penpusher
Dec. 31st, 2014 11:49 pm (UTC)
The racism discussion is one that still hasn't properly been addressed, primarily because the conversation would make some people feel "uncomfortable."

I have previously stated that when we have a disaster to handle, we motivate and mobilize and send funds to the affected areas. But when it comes to this group of citizens, people see things in a completely different way. They are "lazy." They are "incompetent." They are THEY! Not even the same as the people who are making critical remarks.

Why hasn't there been the same kind of support to help improve the lives of all American citizens in the same way we work to help victims of a tsunami or earthquake? Really, this disaster has been going on since the Jim Crow era. How long until we get around to it?
dmousey
Jan. 1st, 2015 12:09 am (UTC)
I've been saying this for a long while. Caucasian Americans don't realize how they've been conditioned to think that way or how insidious racism is. They dehumanize people who's skin color doesn't match theirs to the point that even children of color, 5 & 6 year olds, think of themselves as being worth 'less' and not as good as being white. That is just so f'ed up. (Pardon my french)

The unfortunate thing with the NY slayings, is it will validate to those who are bigoted, what they've thought all along. I only hope that the dialogue that has been started will continue.

As for the economic's, America has more than enough money to feed and educate our poor. The fact that 1 in 5 children lives without food security or is homeless is outrageous. We should be ashamed.

As I said, we have a caste system in this country, we just haven't admited it yet.

Jim Crow... yeah (sigh)



Edited at 2015-01-01 12:10 am (UTC)
stacymckenna
Jan. 1st, 2015 12:41 am (UTC)
Hear, hear.
grail76
Dec. 31st, 2014 09:57 pm (UTC)
Here's a hope 2015 is an improvement.
penpusher
Dec. 31st, 2014 11:50 pm (UTC)
Thanks, and same to you.
ravengirl
Dec. 31st, 2014 11:59 pm (UTC)
I love horror movies (not the gory kind) and they make me laugh, just like riding a roller coaster does. But I take your point about action versus reaction and I agree. I also agree with you about our President. He might be the last brilliant person we see take that post until one of these kids born with a computer in hand takes the wheel. I hope it's a woman. And I'm sad I won't be here for that.
penpusher
Jan. 1st, 2015 02:20 am (UTC)
I didn't even mention the whole Ebola stuff! How did I leave that out? That was a horror movie trope gone berserk.

I have hope that more brilliance is out there. It's just a question of whether people can actually see it and vote for it.

Thanks for being with me and reading along all this while! I'm putting out the good energy for 2015!
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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