I like this paper a lot and it got me to think a lot about horror, comedy, the fine line in between and user reactions and response to context.
Specifically, such fictions are generally
designed to control and guide our emotional responses in such a way that, ideally,
horror audiences are supposed to react emotionally to the monsters featured in
horror fictions in the same manner that the characters in horror fictions react
emotionally to the monsters they meet there
Carroll mentions this and it really resonates with me. I think a major factor to what is humor and what is horror has to do with the reactions. For me, the reactions of the actors give the audience a context…is it horror or is it comedy. That being said people themselves bring something to the table and decided if it is infact horror or comedy.
So Jared just posted a video on Day-Z. Honestly what made that funny was the guy who was laughing at it. If I personally was playing that game and that happened, I would not hang around, I would head for the hills. It may be because I am in the studio alone this late, but in my context, that was terrifying.
And that brings me to my primary argument. In movies what separates horror from comedy is the reactions of the characters. Carroll points out that horror and comedy both have similarities especially since both of them seem to take a normal situation and juxtapose it with something opposite. Dracula is dead and not dead at the same time. With this juxtapositioning in mind, I want to show the difference in the way we interpret horror and comedy is based on the reactions of the characters. The walking dead vs Shaun of the dead would be ideal examples. Specifically their first encounters with zombies.
This is similar to what Carroll says. But the point is, the actor and his reactions tell us this is serious. There are other queues in the shots, but their reaction to an unusual situation tells us that we should be fearful for him.
Whereas in Shaun of the dead, the characters react very differently to the zombies. they at first sort of ignore them, but when they find out you have to destroy the brain to destroy the zombie they get a hold of their LP’s and proceed to throw it at the zombies
It is this absurd reaction that tells the audience that this is comedy even though almost everything else is the same. You will never see this happen in the walking dead. The actors will never take their time and go through their LP collection while death approaches them slowly.
We can see how reactions of the characters can persuade our emotional reactions. Now let me give you an example in which we bring our own feelings into it. This is not horror related, but has to do with comedy.
In Inglorious Basterds there is a scene in which the Bastards have captured a group of Nazis and proceed to brutally interrogate them. What is interesting was the audiences reactions to the interrogation. People were laughing when they were graphically scalping heads, even when they beat a soldier to death with a baseball bat. It was funny primarily because we all know the Nazis were not good people (a dumb way to summarize it!)
Similarly in the movie, the Germans were watching a movie in which the Americans were dying…the Germans in the audience were laughing, but the audience in the real theater were not. We do not associate the death of American soldiers to fun. What I am trying to say is that we as an audience also have a say in what is funny and what is horror. Our experiences and context definitely shape our reactions.
Thus in a similar fashion, I think Jared’s video is funny only and only because the guy is laughing….I swear, watch the video without the guys laughter and it becomes pretty scary!