Greetings friends, do you wish to be as happy as me?
Well, writing year end lists might exclude you from that list, because I actually really don’t care for year end lists. I used to hate them because I am and probably will always be an edgelord contrarian who desperately wants to sit with the cool kids, but now I think I dislike them (see, less strong of a word than hate, I’m trying) because life is shit and full of suffering and everyone kinda sucks and nothing matters. Well, so much for not being an edgelord. And yes, I have been reading a lot of German philosophy lately, so forgive my descent into strange nihilism just there. Staying up late at night ordering katanas and fedoras takes you to some weird places, let me tell you.
But look, all jokes aside – I think more than anything year end lists are always kinda whatever to me because I recognize that we are all so different and varied that we are rarely if ever going to be able to agree on anything. What ticked all the boxes for me, may not even come close to tickling your fancy. I think this is what life is about. And since we live in such polarizing times, I think this is a difficult concept to grasp. But I’ve never really been able to get into that kind of black and white thinking. Life isn’t black and white, dizzying highs and terrifying lows… it’s moreover just a lot of blahs, and a lot of grey.
If you’ve been a friend of the graveyard, you will be familiar with 6 Things That Can Fuck Off in 2016, 7 Things That Can Fuck Off in 2017 and 8 Things That Can Fuck Off in 2018. It’s become something of a tradition around here in the graveyard, and even though I hesitated with this year’s list, I still put together a few things that I think really need to fuck off.
1. Knee jerk genre journalism without any contemplation, higher inquiry, or insight
Since I’m trying to be less of an edgelord, I’m not gonna call out the people involved in this one by name, and this goes beyond metal or horror journalism and could probably be written into all journalism, but specifically I want to talk about “genre” journalism. A story will break and so many sites will rush for those sweet sweet clicks and likes and shares, and just put out any old crap on the interbutt without giving pause to inquiry around the complexities of stories. Sometimes, things that are made to be these hard hitting stories, end up being things that wouldn’t even fill a joke tweet you wrote while drunk at 4am with a hotdog in your hand. I get the hustle we all have to do when we work as “journalists” or “bloggers” or internet “personalities”, and I respect the hustle. It’s a lot of work to create content, whatever your content may be, but I caution those who opt for quantity over quality. If we’re in this for the long haul, the pieces that gain the most traction, at least for me, are the ones I have to squat on for a while. They may not come out of the gate as knee jerking or as polarizing, but some quiet contemplation is generally going to get you more followers and help retain your audience over the long run. Writing constant polarizing pieces might get you fans in the drama circle, but honestly, I think I might be ready to leave a lot of drama in 2018. We’re getting old, my friends. Someone get me my walker.
2. Hyperbolic taglines for horror movies that always say things like “the scariest movie since the Exorcist” or “scariest movie since XYZ” (Still unresolved from 2017 – so can we like get on this or something)
I first wrote about this one back in 2017 and it seems like we haven’t gotten the message yet. Like my intial observations in 2017 – we don’t need these taglines because they contribute to bad journalism, in my opinion. First of all, what does this tagline even mean?
At it’s very core of course studios aren’t going to slap onto a movie, “it’s a kinda meh movie that you’ll pay too much to see in theatres and then immediately forget about”, but I don’t know that a little truth in advertising would hurt. Most movies with these hyperbolic taglines are pretty meh, not all.. of course. #NotAllHorror and all. But for the most part, most films aren’t living up to such lofty mantles. And really, The Exorcist wasn’t intended to be a horror film anyways.
Don’t read me wrong here – there’s nothing wrong with the Exorcist, but I think we are now far removed enough from it that we should be holding other films up as tent poles. Not every horror film is going to stand up to the shadows of the giants that came before it. Not every film needs to. I certainly do not ask this of the genre and in many ways I think it’s unfair that so many do. It’s okay to love the big ones, the franchises that we all grew up with, but when we spend too much time looking to the past for the good scares, we can find ourselves ignoring amazing pieces of the here and now. This is one of the dangers of nostalgia culture. And it brings me to my next point.
3. Nostalgia culture
Look. I’m a child of the 1980s. I grew up in the 1990s. I was a teenager in the early 2000s and I get nostalgia culture. I really do. I think maybe now more than ever, I understand nostalgia culture. I work a hard job, In my near 33 years on this planet, I’ve seen a lot of terrible things, and sometimes I do feel like yes, I am vast, and yes, I do contain multitudes. I understand the appeal of nostalgia. It takes you back to a simpler time in your life, before careers, before adulting, to hearing that first riff, to your first scare, your first kiss, your first pair of striped armwarmers worn over fishnet shirts and KoRn hoodies. I fucking GET it. These times were simpler, they made more sense. It was easier to make things fall into some kind of order.
But there’s a danger here. Like looking too long into the moving photographs of the Harry Potter world, places where we left parts of ourselves. Nostalgia tricks us into chasing the dragon of times we cannot get back. We will never ever have that first scare again, we will never hear that riff for the first time, and even though we can go to Forever 21s around the country and buy those fake tattoo choker necklaces until the cows come home, we won’t ever be able to put one on with hair mascara and a CD in our discman and go do hoodrat shit with our friends again. Life moves on. It’s sad, but it’s true. Life keeps on twisting, and if we aren’t careful, it can begin to slip us by, and nostalgia can taint the things that are happening now and cause us to miss a lot.
A trip down memory lane, some mad respect to bands who make the riffs now that remind you of the riffs we had, and all the 90s chokers and see through backpacks in the world aren’t in themselves dangerous.. but the draw of nostalgia is a double edged sword.
Don’t spend your time in the past, because you will miss out on all the amazing things going on right now. Don’t take this as me preaching either, because I’m not. But, I’ve spent a long time buried in my old record collection, and not enough time buried in the music being made now. And I know that I want to change this in 2019. The past made me who I am. The riffs, the fishnets, the bottle black hair dye.. but, that’s only a piece of the person I am now. And I don’t want to miss out on the music for the other pieces of me. For the scares that will haunt the damaged thirty something that I am. What scared me as a child, no longer scares me. I see the strings and the set dressings and the rigging and the grips. But I want to leave myself open to the dangerous possibility of being scared now. And in many ways, I think that’s a really beautiful thing.
2019 has some amazing new films slated for release – both commercial big budget and indie low-fi, and we live in a time where more people than ever are creating, and the diversity of voices is so vast and powerful. So come at me 2019. Show me what you fucking have.
4. Black metal constantly showing it’s ass
Look. I love black metal, and this isn’t going to be some PC ultra correct post about how we need to “fix black metal” or anything like that, but holy fuck guys – some self policing of this genre is definitely needed. Between all the NSBM Nazi stuff, and general shitbaggery of playground insults thrown around by fans in comments sections – 2018 saw black metal fans adopt a most dangerous kind of cognitive dissonance – defending child molestor / predators like Jason “Dagon” Weirbach. That’s a whole other line of crazy.
Look. I know black metal, and really, metal in general isn’t maybe the most mentally stable of the heavy metal subgenres. The genre itself is built on some pretty shaky territory of insanity, murder, arson, and suicide.
And like what I said about nostalgia, it’s 2018, guys – could we give this all a rest for a while? We need to collectively stop looking to the 1990s and to mentally ill children as beacons with which to herald this genre. Worshipping the action of mentally ill teenage edgelords is deeply troubling, especially concerning that it’s 20-40 year olds who are doing it. I get it, black metal is cool and it’s grim and it’s dark and it’s frostbitten and all that good stuff, but defending fucking pedophiles is a pretty sad state of heavy metal affairs. When the Dagon / Inquisition thing happened, any heavy metal comments section was RIFE with “….but the riffs” sentiment, defending Dagon as “just being evil”. Hell, I KNOW people who tried to say the same to me.
I like carnival funhouse evil, not make a veteran cop puke in his oatmeal evil.
Metal is theatrics, and I start to have issues when we are aligning ourselves with serial killers, predators and other types of scum. I’m not saying we should censor shirts and remove big titted women from album covers or stop singing about crushing skulls, but there’s a difference between this kind of performative evil than actual evil.
And I don’t know that I need to be saying this – I shouldn’t HAVE to be saying this.
Like it or lump it, metal is diversifying in amazing ways, and I think that we have all done a lot of growing. But we need to self police shitbag behaviour. So if your band mate is throwing Nazi salutes, maybe you need to take them aside and say “hey fucko, this is a bad look”.
In 2018 I said I was done with Nazis in metal. It’s a bad a fucking look, and we seem to keep coming back to it, and the debate rages as to who is or isn’t a Nazi, who does or doesn’t have NSBM ties, and I have my own feelings about the type of journalism that labels someone a Nazi simply because of the shirt they are wearing, or the hairstyle they have. But we need to do better. We really do.
And I totally understand that I will likely be pilloried as some kind of PC cuck liberal for this but, here’s a video that I think is important to watch:
5. Enamel pins (no, really)
This is another unresolved horror from an earlier incarnation of my fuck-off diatribes. Are we done with enamel pins yet. Look, we all enjoy enamel pins, but I feel like we have oversaturated the market and poisoned the well. There’s an enamel pin for fucking EVERYTHING now. Every ass-piss and fuck wanker and shit lord has an enamel pin or five for their company. And a lot of enamel pins just honestly look Westworld style, “It doesn’t look like anything to me”. Don’t read me wrong here – I have enamel pins on my bag. I have them on my various denim coats and vests. But what makes them special and makes them fun for me is to have pins I love, pins of things that have meaning to me. I feel like enamel pins became this obsessive collector fad where every movie and every character and every fucking member of the crew had an enamel pin made and it’s like.. guys. Stop.
I feel like maybe we are slowing down with the enamel pin game. God, I fucking hope.
6. Indie horror not getting the love and respect it deserves
This one can fuck all the way off the edge of my dick. I get that as horror fans, it can be a task of insurmountable proportions to consume all of the new horror that is coming out. There’s always going to be things that miss you. But I’m pretty honestly over the fact that 90% of the love I see horror movie review blogs dishing out tends to go to big budget, big name pictures. That isn’t to say that big pictures and the Hollywood horror set don’t deserve love, but I think we could more love to indie pics.
And the thing is – you can’t compare indie horror to big budget. I see a lot of lower rent horror pictures getting shit on online with reasons that basically amount to – “Well it looked low rent”. Yeah. Because it is. Indie film makers tend to work on hopes, promises, and shoe string budgets. And theres a shitload of amazing fucking voices in indie film making. Things might not have that store bought picture perfect vibe of a big Hollywood picture, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find pieces in the indie films you like. Indie films often have the balls to try out things that are new and dangerous and exciting, and while the whole film may not be “perfect”, we can still toss respect to innovation and new ideas. Horror can stagnate very quickly if you aren’t finding new ways to get your scare on, and whenever I see people saying they’re tired of horror – what they’re really saying is that they are tired of MAINSTREAM horror, and that’s totally reasonable. It can sometimes (no, not all the time) feel like we are in a kind of half hearted horror franchise remake nostalgia culture Hell.
Of course.. not all the time. 2018 had some amazing fucking horror pictures come out that were big budget (looking at you Hereditary), but there was a lot of amazing first time indie horror directors that deserve a lot of praise too – Coralie Fargeat for Revenge in particular. I feel like we get trapped in an echo chamber. Big budget stuff gets the clicks and the likes and the little guy gets left behind. And we need to do better.
7. Instagram witches and try hard “Satanism” and Occultism
Alright. So, confession time. When I was younger and a spooky goth, I wanted so desperately to be able to buy witchy shit in regular stores. I wanted to see more movies with witches in them. I wanted it all. And boy do I ever regret wishing for these things to come to pass, because like with anything, we couldn’t do thing on a small scale. Nope we had to go balls to the goddamn wall and everyone is #witchy in the #witchesofinstagram crowd, with their Killstar, King Dude, Bloodmilk, and matching dresses watching The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and American Horror Story and I’m just like, can we stop. Because I want out.
I guess I sound like a hipster here, but the commercialization of something that was such a huge part of me – gothness, witchcraft, Satanism, and the occult, only served to push me away from it. I feel marginalized in an identity that was mine for over 20 years. Like I’m not cool or skinny, or beautiful enough to be a witch, to be a goth. Like I’m not allowed in my own identity anymore. And that feeling is a bitter pill to swallow, and I know I’m not the only one to feel that way.
I know that eventually we will move forward and onwards to something else. But I just want that part of my life back. And I don’t know that I will be able to get that back, so with that in mind, I will just keep on moving forward.
8. Funko Pop!
Alright. I think I speak for the rest of the group when I say that can we fuck off with Funko Pops already. There’s too many of them and they’re all terrible and the amount of obsessiveness that occurs. I implore you to click here and see what extreme Funko collecting does to someone. It’s fucking bananas.
And like.. okay, some funkos are cool. They aren’t really my thing and I’m not gonna yuck your yum about it, but the majority of funkos are just brown haired white guys that look like nothing.
In 2019, I’m going to allow everyone to own exactly ONE DOZEN Funko Pops before we all stage an intervention for you. I’m kind enough to even throw in a baker’s dozen if your two fave fandoms have like 6-7 characters in each.
I for example own the Alien Covenant Funko set. I also own the Robot Devil from Futurama and Beavis and Butthead. An appropriate amount of Funkos.
Don’t make stage an intervention for you. I will.
9. Horror twitter getting fucking butthurt constantly about literally fuck all
Oh man. I could edit this down and broaden it out by saying twitter constantly seems to be butthurt about something, and that’s very true.. but horror twitter is my family and like it or lump it, I’m there more often than not, and man. Some of the shit that goes on there is really just to much. People write these 14 tweet diatribes about “muh horror” and how persecuted they are for liking horror and nothing makes me see red more than this.
Look, Jessica, no one gives a sweet flying fuck what you or anyone else like you likes or doesn’t like. Especially when it comes to movie preferences.
And also, if they do.. we’re all adults here, I would hope that we have gained the social maturity to be able to confront schoolyard bullies by telling them in oh so many words to “EAT MY BUTT”. People who care about the media consumed by others isn’t something that should be bothering you or keeping you up at night. If people out there do care, they’re probably sad unstable individuals to begin with and aren’t worth blowing up your twitter feed with missspelled subtweets about.
We aren’t persecuted. We aren’t some minority fighting for our basic human rights.
And another thing – I’m sick to death of horror fans bitching about horror not being included in the Oscars. Look. The Oscars sucks and it’s largely a bunch of boring white bummer films for boring fucking white people. A few years ago I thought I’d be cultured and watch all the Oscar nominee films and they were BORING as hell. Why would you want to be included in the snoregasm of the year? Besides, all these awards shows are political Hunger Games esque wank fests anyways. You can’t want horror to be this outsider genre where you get to make yourself think you’re some kind of dangerous edgy kid and also simultaneously want to be accepted by the cool kids club.
Horror is huge, and we don’t need an Oscar win to tell us what good film making is. We just don’t, and maybe that’s the punk rock in me, but I’ve never needed a government sanction or a golden man to tell me who I am. And honestly the same thing goes with metal – stop griping about the fucking Grammys! Who gives a shit about the Grammys. Do you really want your grindcore band to be on a CD with fucking Cardi B and Kanye West? Come on now. We don’t get to exist in the paradox of wanting ugly music for ugly people but hey where’s my golden gramophone?
Would the recognition be nice? Of course it would, but it isn’t going to happen.
It’s a goddamn shame that Mandy wasn’t available for Oscar nom for the fucking breathtaking score by Johan Johansson. But it doesn’t make that score any less important or seminal.
And back to horror twitter. There’s an UberFacts bot that churns out stupid facts every so often and between that and the random studies that are read out of context to say “horror fans are shown to have less empathy” it never ceases to throw horror twitter into a slavering frenzy. It’s just like when some bot came out and said that watching horror movies burns calories. It doesn’t. Come on now.
And these studies are never substantiated in any way, with results conflated and stretched thin but it never ceases to churn the tide of horror twitter and cause everyone to nearly break their hands with the series of insane rambling tweets and misguided hashtags that come out of it, like the #IAMHorror. Look. I know this all comes from a good place and from good people and it generally means well, but, again, do we need hashtags and online rants to prove that horror fans are just regular people? Probably not.
There’s a line in Shakespeare’s Hamlet that goes, “the lady doth protest too much” and it’s meant to mean that when someone denies an accusation to an extreme extent, maybe it’s because the accusation is a little bit true, or even, that it cuts to the very core of this person’s deepest insecurities.
I think the thing that horror twitter doesn’t always understand is that the world of horror fans exists outside the blogosphere, outside of instagram and YouTube and comic conventions. Baby boomers, and moms and dads, and fucking teeny boppers all consume horror flicks, and they aren’t wearing Halloween shirts and carrying Evil Dead Funko pops, and I think this is where we get trapped in our echo chamber, where we think we are special, and much like the line in Fight Club, we are not, as things would have it, unique and beautiful snowflakes. We are just people, and we love a good scare, and my fucking god, can that just be enough?
Happy 2019, fuckers.
You can find Robin on twitter.
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