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Slasher Movies Are Not About Rape

Slasher MoviesA recent article published at www.thelmagazine.com implies that “all slasher movies are about rape.” Author Henry Stewart claims that “knives are the most sexually charged” and stabbing a victim is “essentially rape – penetration without permission.” He adds to the preposterous claim with the hyperbolic statement that “Chainsaws even are basically just giant mechanical knives.”

Admittedly, I get the metaphor that Stewart is proposing. Any horror fan has stumbled onto this concept and it’s nothing new or groundbreaking. While many of us may give some credence to Stewart’s claim that stabbing is rape and slasher movies do, in part, explore this, it’s fair to say that an entire slasher movie, and the entire genre, is not about rape.

Psycho

Think about the psychopathic dedication it would take for one, just one, individual to create a film dedicated to this metaphor. He’d have to have a Charles Manson-like charisma to persuade the crew and actors to participate in such a deranged undertaking. Then think about yourself, and all the other horror/slasher movie fans: Are we all so sexually depraved and misogynistic to not just view, but love, the genre? Granted, it takes a certain personality to appreciate these films, but to suggest that we’re all drinking the Kool-Aid of some fucked up director is preposterous.

American Mary Blu-ray CoverStewart makes no true argument in his article, but he does move on to feminism in horror. He makes reference to the new Soska sisters’ film, American Mary, and I agree with what he’s saying there: it’s about women reclaiming their power after it’s been usurped by a suppressor. But that’s where my agreement ends. Stewart also confuses some genres in my opinion, mixing up slasher with exploitation and revenge flicks.

Obviously, we at Yell! Magazine are going to defend our beloved genre, and we also believe that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, even if they are wrong. We also know that all slasher movies are not about rape, at least solely. Scream nicely summed up what they are about:

Clearly Wes Craven has given this some thought. It’s pretty widely accepted that slasher films are about being chaste, about having a moral compass, about our fears, and about our guilt.

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If anything, slasher movies are Christian cautionary tales, or modern-day fairy tales. Honestly, is Jason, Freddy, or Michael any more terrifying than a wolf who ate grandma, than a witch who eats children, than a witch who abducts a young girl and locks her up in a tower, than a stepmother who sends a hunter to cut out her stepdaughter’s heart?

Rock Hard \m/

6 thoughts on “Slasher Movies Are Not About Rape”

  1. I wasn’t arguing that every director and his or her entire crew consciously make every slasher movie an allegory about rape, only that maybe you could imagine reading it as some sort of unconscious underlying or animating principle. It has nothing to do with authorial intent.

    1. Hey Henry, thanks for taking the time to reply. Granted you weren’t implying that the collective crew consciously make their slasher films about rape, we were just off put by the use of “all” in the title and felt the need to defend the genre by going to the extreme. Reading your piece, it felt like you were painting with very broad strokes, which for us seemed unfair. The great thing about film, literature, music, art, etc., is that people bring their own perspective to the table and through discussion expose others to elements/themes that they may not have otherwise seen.

      1. Reading this response after reading Stewart’s article, it seems that the folks at Yell! Magazine have missed point that even they make at the end of the article. If these modern day cautionary tales are aimed at the moral compass of sexual values, the message is as slut shaming as any sunday morning service. The message of violence being well deserved by the unchaste is a reinforcement of the “she was asking for it” message that our culture permeates as blame for all sexual decisions to be a burden solely placed on women. This article isn’t a counter point, as much as a proclaimed ignorance. Especially of the film industry, where there are hordes of people willing to sell out to cash cows like slashers, without needing a charismatic Manson figure to cajole them into premeditated morality plays– only the siren of fame and the studio checkbook. It’s an established genre, deep thought doesn’t go into troupes, money does and where there is money, there is always someone willing to work for it.

        1. You’re right on many points. However, the purpose of this response was to state that all slashers are not about rape. Stating that slashers are a “moral compass” (note that we did not say “moral compass of sexual values”) was meant to emphasize the inclusiveness of many vices and their consequences. Vices such as drug use, crime, underage drinking, bullying, out of wedlock pregnancies (I believe it was implied that victim Andy in Friday the 13th Part 3 got Debbie pregnant), even promiscuity, etc. are themes in most slashers and don’t preclude males. Also, the paragraph about cast, crew, and fans being psychopaths with a charismatic Manson figure as their leader was hyperbolic to counter the exaggeration that all slashers are about rape. You lost me when you started talking about money; I get and agree with what you’re saying, but I don’t understand the relevance to our article.

    1. I’m sure we’re all knowledgeable about the rape-revenge genre, and I would never argue that it’s not about rape on some level. However, I was addressing Stewart’s claim that “all slashers are about rape.” So, focusing on the slasher genre, what do you think: Are all slashers about rape?

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