A recent newspaper article discusses recent scholarship on horror films, how they have grown more graphic, and what is their appeal to audiences. A new peer-reviewed journal, Horror Studies, started last year.
One theory not mentioned, because it wouldn’t suit left-liberal insistence that much of America teeters on poverty, desperation, and despair, is that life has actually grown too comfortable in our country, up and down the social ladder. Challenges are few, and people have a lot of time on their hands. They seek increasing levels of horror, violence, profanity, obscenity, and other kinds of extremism in entertainment in order to feel alive. Another aspect is that political correctness has drained daily life of much of its excitement. I don’t necessarily mean with regard to enforced attitudes toward minorities and women, although that is part of it. But even more, modern relativism means strong views and opinions have to be suppressed, because they are seen as coercive to those who don’t have them. Everything must be shrugged off as “no problem,” and each person’s views must be given equal weight and polite deference. Lively conversation and real debate is squelched. Some of it is permitted on television, but even there, it has to be conducted within certain perimeters, often with “both sides” given equal weight, and things are seldom really wrestled to the nub in a satisfying way. The idea that there is no truth, only points of view, has to be enforced at every turn.
This is deadening, and so people seek to feel life in other ways, grotesque entertainment being one of them.