Marriage, A Gay Old Time

Actually, I’m on the verge of turning the Bit Maelstrom into a full-on breast blog (possibly with a dissertation about the ‘80s Afghan revolt against the Russian Invaders) since that’s what everyone comes here to see.

So, yeah, I’m pro-breasts (pointy or otherwise). And no, Charlie Wilson’s War wasn’t historically accurate, though parts were true. Also, all those peak oil guys who say that the world is coming to an end but it’s not just a crazy prophecy of some mad cult? They’re the crazy prophets of a mad cult.

Anyway, with that aside, the issue of who can marry whom has come up again in this fine state of California. In this case, the California Supreme Court has (once again) overridden the wishes of the people to say that, in fact, same-sex marriage is not only a right, it’s always been a right according to the state constitution.

Now, it seems to me that if that were the case, same-sex marriage would have been established by two people of the same sex getting married, the state refusing to acknowledge it, and then the court saying the state has no right to refuse to acknowledge it. But I certainly might have that wrong.

Let me say, first of all, that I have no personal interest in who marries whom. As I understand it, one can arrange almost any sort of domestic situation one wants (hetero, homo or poly) except a bestial or pedophilia relationship (and maybe incestuous) and set up almost any sort of legal arrangement one wants.

Also, as I understand it, domestic partners have all the same rights as married couples, and certainly since palimony it hasn’t mattered so much whether a couple is actually married. (California doesn’t recognize common law marriage.) These days, it would probably make sense for married couples to create a nuptial contract and revisit it every year. (This might sound horribly clinical, but it actually could be quite romantic.)

If that’s true, and it’s really just about the word “marriage”, well, you know what I call a couple of guys in a permanent committed relationship? “Married.” Really. What else you gonna call it?

My preference? Marriage either gets a strict definition by the state that benefits the state, or the state gets its nose out of the union business. The latter being preferable.

So, having established my relative lack of concern over how people bond and what they call it, I’m going to expound a little on my understanding of marriage, and why I’m not entirely unsympathetic to cultural conservatives on the issue.

Despite everything I learned from the ’70s, personal happiness actually ranks very low down on the list of societal concerns. No, really! It’s true: Society doesn’t care if you’re happy. Society cares about its own survival and as long as you do your part to continue it, you can be as happy or as miserable as you like. So, the social importance of marriage is that you stick with one person, create the next generation, and raise them in such a way that they go on to continue society.

When you think about it, the idea that billions (or thousands, if you prefer) of years of struggle and hardship is going to come to its end because, you know, some gal wants to pursue a career, or some guy just doesn’t care for female company–it’s the ultimate in self-centered-ness.

Society’s historical answer to the question of personal fulfillment–assuming it entertained the notion at all–was to simply not allow women to do anything but create the next generation, and to force gays to marry and produce offspring.

The other part of the equation was to discourage or disallow divorce, adultery, polygamy and fornication–to say nothing of onanism and homosexual activity. Basically, society figured out the best way to secure its own survival was to get people married pretty quickly, reproducing ASAP, and bonded forever, while outlawing sexual activity that didn’t produce offspring.

These are the rules of a highly fragile society, one deeply concerned about its own survival. And it may be a coincidence, but every society that moves away from these principles dies. Will Durant wrote that every society enters stoic and exits epicurean. The Western world has been in full epicurean mode for decades.

Anyway, in the historical context, the definition of marriage is very clear, and very clearly not inclusive of homosexuality. One argument I’ve heard as an attempt to defend homosexual marriage “What about childless couples?” Well, until recently, the pressure for couples to have children was tremendous, and an inability to have children has historically been grounds for annulment.

It was really the ’70s that turned divorce into a casual event, degraded “women’s work” and made childlessness into a respectable option. And, also, at that point, made marriage into a word that applies (or should apply) equally to any people seeking to find happiness and fulfillment in long-term committed sexual relationships.

I don’t know if anyone will read this, and find it less likely that anyone will care, but it’s something I had to learn over many years. And the funky-funny thing is that there is tremendous happiness possible the old way, while allowing people to pursue personal pleasure has probably not resulted in any net gain in happiness for people over all.

So, why would I not personally fight to preserve the definition of marriage? For one thing, because it’s long gone, and it’s unlikely that heteros are going to be lining up to give marriage back to its original gravity. Secondly, since that is what has to happen–groups of people have to agree to restore the society-serving definition of marriage–it’s not something the government can do. It’s a social and religious thing, and requires people to look beyond themselves–not something they’re generally encouraged to do.

The pendulum may swing back: a lot of victims of the “Do Your Own Thing” ’70s (and beyond) are now grown and may take child-rearing and marriage more seriously than their parents did.

As I’ve said before, a society can be judged on its kindness to outliers, and I don’t think it’s likely we’ll ever go back to the days when assaulting gays was acceptable and women had to put up with abuse because society’s prohibitions against divorce were so strong. But it is possible to elevate individual fulfillment above society’s survival needs, and this usually results in a barbaric culture where outliers must hide or be destroyed.

As a footnote: Some maintain that the California supreme court just overrode the will of the people in the service of a liberal agenda. Not surprisingly, this pisses off some and pleases others. For me, it just seems like business-as-usual in the Golden State.

Ugly Eyes

At the Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential (a school/clinic for handling brain-injuries) they have a phrase: “ugly eyes”. Many of their kids are savants (what used to be called “idiot savants”) but because they have other problems, some people refuse to see their brilliance. They see only the injury and impose their ideas about what that means over the person. The opposite of rose-colored glasses, if you like.

It should be evident that this phrase could apply to racists. They don’t see the person, or even if they do, what they see is occluded by what they believe. What should probably be just as obvious is that it applies to those who adopt a “politically correct” mindset.

There’s a minor kerfuffle in the feminist blogosphere that Althouse has commented on. The money quote is “It’s not that I didn’t see it. It’s that I didn’t see it.” This could be rephrased as, “I only saw what was there, not the pre-formed political paradigm that I’m required to filter not only my communication but my actual perception with.”

I was working with a friend of mine whose skin melanin content is higher than the local average, and he had hired his buddy’s girlfriend to work with us. She would say things about my friend (to his face) about “being one of the good ones” and other phrases which are commonly associated today with racists (or at least racist caricatures).

We laughed, because these are the kinds of things we would say to each other in ironic jesting, but something about the way she said them struck us both as odd. Ultimately it came out that she was dead serious. (The extra added bonus weirdness that she was, herself, a person of color–she just didn’t see herself that way.)

My friend is the sort of person who doesn’t have ugly eyes. Now, one is always served better by seeing what is actually there, as this woman did cause trouble for him. But he’s still light years better off than those who see racism everywhere.

It’s worth observing at this point that we are all beneficiaries of those who suffered and laid down their lives so that we could, today, have the luxury of seeing each other as individuals and not just representatives of some group. But it seems to me that those who do frame everything in the context of identity groups are spitting in these brave peoples’ faces. They’re saying what was fought for can never truly be achieved.

And that’s ugly.

A fair tax system.

Everyone’s opining so I might as well, too.

There is one fair tax system: A per capita tax. A head tax. A poll tax.

Here’s my plan:

Step 1: Eliminate all forms of taxations other than the direct tax.

Step 2: Tax each person a fraction of the total amount of monies desired. The fraction is 1/nth of the total budget, with n being the number of taxable persons in the country.

First, why eliminate all forms of taxation? Because this is how they getcha: by hiding taxation at every turn. You know that they take X dollars off your paycheck, probably. You see that every payday. But you don’t see the Y dollars that your employer pays. And while you see the Z dollars that you pay in sales tax, you don’t see the A, B & C that constitutes all the taxation on all the parts of everything you buy.

It’s the hidden parts that lead to corruption. And it’s all a big fat lie, anyway: Whenever the government says it’s going to tax corporations, imports, etc., that money is always and irrevocably going to come from thee and me.

Even if thee doesn’t think thou art paying any taxes.

That’s what leads me to believe the per capita tax is the best. No deductions, no reductions, no cost-of-living–nothing. Everyone pays.

Children might be an exception. The problem with taxing children directly is that it discourages reproduction, and we seem to need more of that in first world countries. So children might not be liable, and they might even be exempt between 18-21. This could be acceptable because it wouldn’t cause the shenanigans that come with the loopholes the current system creates. Yes, children would be exempt, but there would be no benefit to transferring funds to them, or engaging in any of the shenanigans the current system encourages.

Where would that put us? Well, each adult would have a tax burden of $10-$15K. Let’s say $12K, with no deficit spending. (It could be dropped to under $10K just by eliminating Social Security. Remember, under this plan, we’re not collecting social security which is, after all, just a tax masquerading as an investment.)

Because I’m ornery, I’d encourage this amount to be levied on tourists, as well, divided by the length of stay. Tourists burden the infrastructure as much as anyone else. They’d be charged about $30/day tax for being here. That’s probably a wash.

Now, I’m sure you’re thinking, “But, Blake, what about the poor? Some people don’t even make $12K/year.” My response? “Jeez, people, get a real job!” Or, more seriously, “That doesn’t keep the current governments from taking out SSI, sales tax, and otherwise jacking up the price on everything they buy.” In other words, there are obvious problems with this system, but they’re less than those of other systems.

What’s more, with this system, they’re beholding to no one. They contribute exactly the same as every other citizen. Even on welfare, they’re putting back into the system. (This makes a lot more sense if the welfare comes from private organizations, but the government already does dopey things like giving people money that ends up back in their coffers.)

Remember, everything made beyond the tax is pure profit. And each dollar will buy more, with no sales tax and no production tax–which is what the effect of income tax on items manufactured in the USA ultimately is.

Everyone would be strongly stimulated to produce more. The fruits of that production would all go to the citizens. And when the government wanted more money, it would be instantly apparent what the bottom line would be. Need a new war? Well, that’s gonna be a $1,000 each. Feel like previous, gray-haired generations should get a stipend for setting up a bad, mandatory Ponzi scheme? That’ll be $2000, please.

Stimulus package for the economy? Ha. They’d have to send it to everyone–and then they’d have to collect it right back, which is sorta what they do now.

Pork? That pork-laden bill is going to personally cost you $10.

The craziest part of this idea? People are appalled at the notion that every citizen should shoulder the same financial burden for the government. We’re so conditioned to believe in “fairness”, that we’ll cheat ourselves to death to try to achieve it.

I sat in a seminar this weekend where the speaker explained concepts of generating–and keeping–wealth. Probably half the discussion was how to avoid taxation. The very wealthy–families like the Kennedeys, the Carnegies, the Rockefellers–set up trusts to avoid all the taxation. That’s not something poor or middle-class people do very often. (Some upper middle class people do it, though.)

I couldn’t help but think that this was all a huge waste of productivity.

Now, Great American Experiment-wise, the Federal Government shouldn’t be collecting taxes from anyone, and we’d have to pass an amendment to make this possible, presumably one that repealed the previous taxation amendment.

Or the Federal government could apportion taxes to the states based on their population, and leave it to the states to collect from the citizens. But then, very few would have the wisdom to actually impose a head tax. And we need more states anyway…. (I think Arnold Kling suggests 250, but I think 300 would be better….)

Gutfeld On Games

I watch “Red Eye”.

There, I feel better with that off my conscience.

I find it amusing most times. I’m a big Dr. Baden fan, and I love him on that show. I love that host Greg Gutfeld manages to get the hottest women imaginable–who are almost, to a one, able to demonstrate a high degree of wit, humor and quick thinking. And then there are the women like Michelle Collins, Kerry Howley and Amy Schumer who manage to do the whole smart, sexy and first-class funny.

While it’s usually on the level of a blunt instrument, I also like Gutfeld’s Swift-meets-Bozo-style rants as it teeters on the border of seriousness and absurdity. But last week he aired (and Sunday repeated) a rant against Guitar Hero. I think it was Thursday’s show, but the “gregalog” for the day was on Bridget Bardot according to the site, so maybe it was just a news item and not a rant.

Gutfeld objects to “Guitar Hero” and a similar upcoming game where you conduct an orchestra, apparently on the basis of inflating people’s self-esteem. You learn no real skill, but the game leaves you with the impression you have, I guess, accomplished something.

This is a surprisingly puritanical argument from the former bodybuilder, whose schtick as a hedonistic perv (with a taste for young, easily dispatched houseboys) belies his generally conservative message. But perhaps it’s just his inner jock coming to the fore.

I’m a gamer (though sadly out of play in recent months) and a game designer, as well as an educator. These things have taught me that a game-any game–teaches you nothing except how to play the game. Sometimes–rarely–games overlap with real skills. (In the larger sense, of course, all human activity is a game, but I’m speaking here of formally designed games.)

Even games designed to teach, while they can hone certain skills, the mechanics of playing the game will be the skills most honed. The more abstract the skill, the closer a game can mimic that skill, and the better it can teach. But even then, in almost every case, the game mechanics will burden the player to the extent that it will be those that are mastered.

Chess, for example, teaches virtually nothing about war or courtly intrigue (whichever it was initially abstracted from). To the extent that playing or studying chess teaches anything about anything else, it’s only in the concepts of patience and vision (the great chess players being sort-of pattern matchers, from what I can tell, more than strategic geniuses).

And what’s more, you can become the greatest chess player in the world without ever learning how to apply those skills to real life.

Or, let’s take football. A representation of a military skirmish, right? Maybe. If you had a military goal of “if even one guy gets all the way over here, his side wins, no matter how cut off from supply lines or communication.”

I studied martial arts for years. When I started, my school trained in the “point fighting” that was common in the day. (It superficially resembles the sort of fighting seen in The Karate Kid, which communicated the conceit that one could learn martial arts by performing janitorial tasks.) In point fighting, you never hit the other guy hard. That’s grounds for disqualification. Especially if you struck to the head. You were responsible for not hurting the other guy. You’d strike, and if a judge thought you hit, he’d raise a flag. Then you’d stop, everything would reset and you go on.

This makes sense from a game standpoint, i.e., a game you want to be able to play over and over again without getting sued. But it’s actually contra the skill of learning to defend yourself. Scoring a point isn’t going to stop someone who wants to kill you. In fact, point fighting encouraged the sort of goofy maneuver that puts your hand or foot in the vicinity of someone else’s body, regardless of whether you could’ve actually hurt that person.

We later moved into a full kickboxing mode, where body armor was used. You could hit a lot harder but, of course, the really effective techniques–breaking knees, gouging eyes, throws–were off limits. It was more realistic and trained skills that were parallel with self-defense, like endurance and pain tolerance, but it was by no means real. And you could suffer from learning to fight that way. The hope would be that you’d be able to flip a switch and fight for real if you needed to.

Hand-to-hand combat is an ugly, sweaty and barbaric thing, by the way, and most people don’t really want to learn it. They’d rather have the false sense of confidence, or less harmfully, they’d just rather play around for fun.

Which brings us back to Guitar Hero. Guitar Hero is played by more than a few rock stars who, by Gutfeld’s criteria, shouldn’t need to play it. They can play the real thing. So are they being given a false sense of accomplishment?

No, because they know they’re not actually playing guitar. Hell, that’s one of the reasons they’re playing it. It’s a break. And that’s why most people play it–because it’s fun. It’s completely unconnected to whatever musical desires they have, being a slightly more aggressive form of listening to the radio.

Are there a few people out there who probably believe that playing GH is indicative of a real or potentially great musical talent? Sure, but they’ll all be destroyed when my zergling army conquers the earth.

Democracy, Whisky, Screwy…

Even though by now it should apparent that global warming is a hoax, the religious fanatics are determined to push this narrative through, presumably until they, I dunno, they destroy the earth, or whatever their real agenda is.

In the meantime, they serve as an excellent example of the limits of democracy.

Wikipedia was founded on democratic principles. The idea was that everyone would contribute what they knew, and–well, I admit to being fuzzy on this part, but I think the idea is that a democratically-enforced meritocracy would arise. In other words, the group would agree on who the experts were and viewpoints that were sufficiently controversial would be addressed from various sides.

Anarchy reared its ugly head, of course. Some people are incompetent, for example, and they’re probably a minor part of the problem. Others are vandals. They’re a more serious problem since they look to cause harm and not get caught. The most dangerous–the reason democracy (and anarchy) doesn’t work–is the zealot.

This zealot believes he is justified in whatever he does to forward his cause. Lying to achieve a goal means nothing compared to the grandeur of the goal. Indeed, the zealot himself is there because he’s believed a sufficient number of lies.

Environmental causes generate these in numbers the 11th century Catholic Church could only dream about.

Look at the great Carl Sagan, a man who explained science in a way that made it accessible to the average joe. Yet he sold his soul for nuclear winter.

Hell, Al Gore used to be sane, and probably was one of the few politicians the US has had to date with an understanding of technology.

I could mention some other groups here but I don’t want to, you know, stir up any controversy.

The Republic exists not really to serve us. When we look to it to do so, we invite trouble. The Republic exists to prevent some other, worse form of government from taking hold. And to date, they’re all worse.

In which I defend the past and future.

I am not, generally, the sort of person who reviews the past looking to catalogue glories, either on a personal or cultural level. I just tend to forget, until somebody brings it up. Now, you want to talk broad historical swaths, I’m there. The trends that led to the American Republic, for example. Or, one cultural trend in my lifetime, the reduction in black ghettos (which was something I got to watch in progress, through demographic data work).

But this thread over at Althouse–on the (one hopes) exhausted topic of Presidential candidate Barack Obama’s momentary honesty–had me defending the past 25 years of progress from Freder Frederson (who takes his name from the socialist fantasy classic Metropolis) who insists that the standard of living is worse now than it was 25 years ago.

This caused me to call up all the things that have improved over the past 25 years. And there have been a lot. Computers and the Internet are the area of the most obvious improvement, but it’s important to remember that those two features enhance every other facet of life: education, work, social, love, spiritual, health, etc.

Frederson pointed to weakened purchasing power (unsupportable, I think), uncertain employment (probably true, but job security can be the foe of progress), and the state of health insurance.

Now, if we set aside the advances in medicine, and cheap alternatives that have emerged over the years, he has a point. The monster that is the medical-legal bureaucracy has only grown over the past 25 years, because that’s what bureaucracies do. The eat and grow at the expense of actual productive industries.

Of course, Freder’s solution is to … establish a giant new bureaucracy.

However, what’s really important about this is not interfering with what seems to be natural growth and technological progress so that 25 years from now we can look back and laugh at our bygone primitiveness.

Ever-widening bureaucracies are probably the only thing that can stop us, apart from a giant asteroid.

Gasoline Fan Cub

You know, I’m getting sick of all this gasoline bashing.

Gasoline replaced millions of beasts of burden. Unimaginable tons of crap do not lie festering in our streets. Gasoline even smells better than the combination of horse sweat, manure, etc., that it replaced.

It’s got a great energy-return-to-energy-expended. I think you have to go to fissile material to get better.

I love gasoline. I’ll go all Chris Crocker on you. “LEAVE GASOLINE ALONE!”

Another Day, Another Dumb-ass List

Here’s a list from Popular Mechanics of the 10 Most Prophetic Science Fiction Movies Ever (via Instapundit).

I really need to get me one of them jobs where you get paid to write crap. (I do get paid to write crap for tech ‘zines from time-to-time, but it’s crap that takes a whole lot of research and time.)

The best thing about this list is that a great many of the ones that he picks are simply movies that reinforce his current prejudices. His #1 pick is GATTACA.

Genetic engineering is still centuries away, but the opportunity to decimate free will, by way of well-intentioned genetic early warnings, has already arrived.

Proposals to intern “likely criminals” go back long before GATTACA. Genetic analysis is just the latest in the series of excuses used. And genetics, of course, was the justification behind Hitler’s happy fun-time camps. What’s different now? Oh, right, we have the science to actually identify genetic markers. Except of course, we don’t really.

In other words, it’s still science-fiction. Just like Minority Report’s cumbersome user interface.

Santana would be rolling over in his grave with his pick of Soylent Green. Climate Change is a reality, while overpopulation isn’t? But we had computer models of overpopulation proving there would be 40 million people in New York! SCIENCE!!

In fact, the big irony is the use of today’s junk science to proclaim the hits and misses of yesterday’s junk science. Blade Runner gets high marks for the constant rain, apparently. (It’s going to make New York a perpetual summer but L.A. a perpetual rain forest or something.)

Once again: Bah.

Based On A True Story

The “Based On A True Story” scam is an old one. Ed Wood used to figure it would give his films “gravitas”, I’m sure, having Criswell speak in sonorous tones of how “future events such as these may affect you in the future”. (I prefer Futurama’s tag line: “You can’t prove it won’t happen!”)

Lately, though, these have been taking a particularly scuzzy turn, as with Wolf Creek. The “meat” of Wolf Creek is, essentially, torture porn (and not the good kind). But the “true story” it was based on had one survivor, who isn’t around when the torture is going on, and the bodies of girls were never found. (To the point where the lone survivor was a suspect.)

WTF? So, the producers just made up the middle stuff?

Possibly worse is Open Water, where the entirety of the movie takes place between two dead people. I’m sorry but how is this “based on a true story”? It’s, like, “two people drowned and this is how we imagine they spent their final hours”.

Worse still is the sequel, which I mention below, because it features six people, and dramatizes all sorts of little scenes between them. Once again: No survivors. (Or at least none that can talk.) I’m guessing this one is “based on a true story” like Plan 9 From Outer Space was based on the sworn affidavits of the poor souls who survived it.

Bah, I say!

Page fillers and the horror movie

Long before blogging became popular (or even possible), there were magazines and newspapers. (Unless you’re eight, this should not come as a surprise to you.) Anyway, these printed materials were constrained by certain physical limitations. On the good side, they forced writers to be concise, to not ramble, to get the point across quickly. On the bad side, they forced writers to leave important information out.

On the really bad side, they mandated numbers of pages to be filled. You can’t have an odd number of pages. And you really wanted to keep the runs to the same size to avoid certain costs. And if you went over X pages, it cost a whole lot more, but if you were under Y pages, well, that was bad, too.

In this environment, the filler was invented. The filler seems to say things, but doesn’t, in fact, say anything that isn’t bleedingly obvious–unless it was wrong. Actually, most printed content probably falls into this category.

The filler has survived the physical, tragically, and carried on into the virtual.

I bring this up because of this Times Online article on horror movies. subhed is just awful:

The glory days of Blair Witch and The Exorcist are behind us. Who can save the horror film, asks our chief film critic

What? You have to begin by wondering who the hell considers Blair Witch and Exorcist part of the same tradition. And who thinks that the years from, what, about 1973 to 1997 were devoid of any quality horror. And who thinks Blair Witch was comparable to Exorcist in terms of social impact. (The last is at least debatable.)

The article begins by positing that what scared you as a kid probably still does.

Nah. Sorry. I saw Nosferatu at a pretty young age but I have gotten over it. It seems true that people remember old scares fondly and forget the cheesiness often associated with same. It’s probably also true that we perceive things a lot more quickly than we used to: A lot of modern films (horror and otherwise) would probably look like soup to our great-grandparents. Whereas the “short glimpses”–like the technique used to show Pazuzu in The Exorcist–are way, way too long for today’s audiences. I mean, it’s a chick in some fairly innocuous makeup. (Reminds me of “the brain guy” from the last seasons of MST3K.)

The Boy was positively bored during The Exorcist. He thought Alien was pretty good but he was by no means scared.

All right. We’ll cut the author some slack here. But then he gets real stupid:

But the paucity of fresh ideas in the horror genre is now a genuine issue.

No, it’s not. Or, at least not any more than the paucity of fresh ideas in any genre. And for any time period. IMDB lists three versions of Frankenstein between 1910 and 1921, just for example.

Besides, nobody cares about “fresh ideas” but jaded film critics. Halloween spawned, I feel comfortable saying, thousands of movies about slashers killing young adults. And they all had the opportunity to be profitable. (I assume most were, in fact, and that’s what kept them coming.) He then goes on to suggest that his thesis is proven by the appearance of two foreign-language films in the market. (The Orphanage and Rec.)

Huh. So, does the appearance of, say, two foreign-language dramas, war movies or comedies suggest the same thing of those genres? Or is it really just that some distributor thinks enough people will turn out to see these particular foreign-language films and therefore ponies up the money to send some cans around?

I suspect the latter.

I haven’t seen Rec, but The Orphanage isn’t particularly novel. (If the article is to be believed, it’s novel for a Spanish film, since there is no horror tradition in Spain.) It’s pretty standard haunted house/obsession fare, with considerable similarities to the recently discussed Crazy Eights, The Others and the Japanese Dark Water.

Rec is about a group of people locked in a tenement with a flesh-eating virus on the loose. It sounds thematically similar to David Cronenberg’s early work (like Rabid and Shivers) but one only has to go back a couple years to Eli Roth’s Cabin Fever to realize, it’s just not very original.

This is not an insult, mind you. It’s just a fact of life: There aren’t a lot of fresh ideas anywhere. It’s part and parcel of having a 4.5 billion year old planet.

Usually, around the mid-point of a filler article, the author will say something that completely undermines his entire premise. In this case, the money quote comes from Scottish movie producer Hamish McAlpine:

“Horror has basically run out of track. It is repetitive, boring and profoundly unimaginative. It does well at the box office because a lot of kids have not seen the recycled horrors first time around.”

Translation: “People are going to see crappy horror movies other people are making rather than the crappy horror movies I’m producing! This suggests something fundamentally wrong with society!” In fairness to McAlpine (shouldn’t that be MacAlpine?) I don’t know if his horror movies are crap since I’ve never seen or heard of any of them.

A quick look at IMDB, however, reveals that three of the ten movies in his credit listing are about real-life serial killers (Ted Bundy, Ed Gein and the Hillside Strangler), while a fourth is a remake of a home-invasion type movie of the sort that were so popular back in the ‘70s.

So, maybe not your go-to guy for complaining about a paucity of “fresh ideas”.

But here’s the real thing about that quote: “It does well at the box office….” OK, so, if the movies are “doing well” at the box office, whence the supposed crisis? I don’t wonder if critics in the ’50s looked at the Hammer studios Dracula movies and said, “Bah! Kids today! Give me Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff over Lee and Cushing any day.”

But the Hammer movies offered color, including blood, cleavage (and ultimately nudity when they wound up in the early ’70s), and modernization. On top of that, some of them were quite good! (The 1958 version of Dracula is well-regarded, for example.)

I liked the 1979 version of Dracula–which isn’t generally well-regarded–but which seemed less cheesy at the time (and had top-notch acting, good effects, and a great John Williams score) than earlier versions of the film. But kids in the ’80s didn’t turn out to see it, and therefore we didn’t get a run of “Dracula” movies like we did in the ’40s and the ’60s.

The piece just gets goofier from here on out. Here’s another priceless quote (Sean Hogan, one credit wonder on IMDB, is being quoted):

“But if the industry does goes bust it’s not going to stop the horror,” Hogan continues. “They are dirt-cheap to make. You don’t need famous actors. The only difference is that there will be infinitely more crap.”

Forgive me if I scratch my head trying to figure out what industry is going to be producing the horror movies after the industry goes bust. “Infinitely more crap?” Oh, I don’t think so, I imagine Sturgeon’s Law will hold at around 90%, as always.

This article’s cred isn’t really bolstered by The Orphanage, which is a solid, well-made film, but not going to set the horror world ablaze. Nor that it references, e.g., the disastrous One Missed Call at the end–but that’s probably just a heads-up, not an endorsement.

The takeaway from this article is that horror movies are mostly crap (true), that this is a new-ish thing (false), that new ideas are needed (false: execution trumps ideas), that the only new ideas in horror over 25 years were The Exorcist and The Blair Witch Project (which really defeats the notion that the author’s discontent is new), and that the horror genre is danger of going bust but this will not mean that horror movies stop getting made or making money.

Is that about it?