Film and Television

Spotlight: “Murder Porn” and the Popularity of American Horror Story

This week’s entry is one that I hadn’t planned on writing. The idea came to me just last night, as the household watched the latest episode of AHS Freak Show; as we watched, thoughts started pouring into my head. And then I remembered that this month’s theme is mystery and suspense- what good luck! A piece on American Horror Story would fit just perfectly with that. So I am able to say what I was thinking last night…

Have you noticed what three of the hottest shows on television are right now? I’m thinking of Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, and yes, American Horror Story. What do all of these shows have in common? The answer to that one is, simply put, gratuitous violence. Before I go any further, I’d like to explain a concept- the adult animated series South Park once had an episode in which the kids try to stop their parents from getting high off violent TV programs. They referred to the shows as “murder porn.” Although I have issues with some of South Park’s content, I do have to give them credit- their underlying social commentary is very well done. In retrospect, I think the Murder Porn episode was quite on point.

This is indeed what popular television has come to, if the three aforementioned dramas are any indication- plots that revolve around wars, uprisings, and blood-soaked death montages that would be considered unspeakable if they occurred in real life. And this is entertainment? As my mother was watching AHS last night, she kept commenting on how “sick” and “cool” the show was. And it seems that the more twisted things become in these TV worlds, the more viewers enjoy them. This is what America considers entertainment nowadays.

Is there anything significant to be gleaned from this observation? I’m not a psychologist, so I really can’t say. I can only offer my own judgment; if death and torture is what it takes to excite American tube-watchers, I can’t help but wonder if a line will ever be drawn. Why are we so fascinated by the macabre? Is it really necessary to kill off all your characters in order to generate interest? Feel free to share your thoughts.

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