Horror, snuff, true crime and white supremacy

[Trigger Warnings: for mentions of murder, rape, racially-targeted and queer-targeted violence.]


[NOTE: I will not link anything triggering in this article nor will I be graphic. This includes: snuff films, how to find them and true crime media. I will include articles, critiques and websites listing trigger warnings to look for in movies.]


Trauma ripples. When someone is murdered, raped or experiences a targeted act of violence, it is felt in communities. Families feel it. Individuals feel it. The obsession with snuff films (real or not) and true crime are disgusting as equals.


The horror genre has always been deeply political.


In "Midsommar," viewers are tested their strength against indoctrination into a white supremacist cult. Despite the only Black and Brown people present being "outsiders," their untimely deaths and the cult leaders' control over members' lives, some viewers feel happy for the protagonist in the end.


An older political film would be like the original "Texas Chainsaw Massacre," for example, in which anti-war symbols within the main characters' van (against the Vietnam war) oppose confederate flags in the small town they drive through. The film is a take on American propaganda and classism among southerners.


Other political films include "The Witch," on religion as a system of oppression; "Get Out" deconstructing anti-black racism and the newest, "Candyman," demonstrating gentrification of Black and Brown neighborhoods.


There is a difference between weaving fiction into politics and making victims relive tragedies. It is easier to avoid watching a horror film than noticing the names of murderers plastered throughout media again and again.


The term "snuff" originated in the 1970s, in reference to Charles Manson, and was coined by Ed Sanders. There was a rumor that the Manson family had murdered a human being and buried a recording of the crime in a desert.


This rumor was popularized to the point that new "snuff" content was created and popularized. Many snuff genres focus on harming children, women and members of oppressed groups.


The way snuff and true crime intertwine has everything to do with brutal violence occurring in the real world. Actual human beings experiencing detrimental trauma for others to excite themselves with – and horror films try to mimic these same features.


True crime and snuff are intermeshed for this reason.


Jeffery Dahmer is popular again, following the release of a Netflix dramatization starring "American Horror Story" heartthrob Evan Peters, but this is not the serial killer's first surge in recent years.


Zac Efron's portrayal of Ted Bundy in "Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile" followed the streaming service's 2017 homage, "My Friend Dahmer," which depicted the murderer's youth via fellow former Disney Channel actor Ross Lynch. Netflix pairs trending actors with idolized serial killers to bring out audience members' most disturbing interests.


Enough "true crime" media already highlights and romanticizes murders despite the pleas of victims and their families – those denied the rights to their loved ones' stories.


It is rare for a traumatized family – or community – to want those stories retold day after day.


Many true crime influencers (a cringeworthy term on its own) claim to focus on victims but still include graphic descriptions of dehumanizing crimes – in the interest of monopolizing users' attention.


Horror is a political genre, meaning romanticized reenactments of actual violence (true crime) are a product of white supremacy – white men finding fame for murdering Black and Brown people, gay men and members of other oppressed groups is inherently a product of white supremacy.


Snuff – real or fake – and true crime have always been an object of obsession for internet "edgelords." *This has a lot to do with the alt-right pipeline, mentioned only in a portion of this article.


Gore websites, faked snuff films and true crime all play a role in desensitizing audiences, a tactic white supremacists use to promote comfort with targeted violence against anyone who shares values outside of whiteness.


It's not just adults partaking in white supremacy's violence – watching or executing it – but also children on the internet who ache to fill some void.


Many people crave uniqueness – being original and edgy. The western world is obsessed with individuality, more so than community, so people go to extremes to stand out. These are the same white people who gatekeep media from "posers," but they are white before any of their oppressed identities.


There is a thin line between being originally edgy versus a white supremacist.


To avoid being a white supremacist, here are outlets to find authentic horror films, wholesome horror and trigger warnings:


[I do not necessarily agree with every ranking or description linked.]


Some of my personal favorites, in no particular order, include:

  • "Hereditary" (2018) R

  • "Midsommar" (2019) R

  • "Us" (2019) R

  • "Train to Busan" (2016) Not Rated

  • "Final Destination" (Series 2000-2009) R

  • "Saw" (Series 2004-2021) R

  • "The Ring" (2002) PG-13

  • "ParaNorman" (2012) PG


 

By SUMMER SMITH

Opinion Editor

Featured image courtesy of Summer Smith

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