Why All The Women Must Die

In a perfect world, horror would be indiscriminate when it comes to who and how someone will die, but everyone should die, because it's a horror film and that is the point of watching it.

Enter the scene;

Meet the Final Girl and her cohorts. They are all partying, drinking, enjoying themselves, (Yes some are probably having sex) until a crazy psycho killer decides vivisection is how the party will end.

It all seems so cut and dry. For many when someone has a qualm with the depiction of males & females in horror, there are those who scratch their heads in confusion. The aim of this article is to break these formulae down, so we can better understand where everyone is coming from.

Now, let us take a moment to dissect the scenario of our party and their impending doom.

There are males & females in the group, both genders will be featured in a scene where they are butchered horribly, both have a probability of being caught in mid coitus when the fatal blow occurs.

There is usually a main male and a main female.

The female is broken down for the viewer to show her delicate helplessness. They show her as an emotional creature. Weak and depending upon the alpha male, until he dies, or until she is separated from him and summons the strength to fight. Usually she finds herself facing a bigger problem at the ending, or it continues on in a series of sequels.

The male is identified as the alpha, his ability to survive relies only on himself, and seemingly as do the lives of all the others when it comes down to the ‘final few’ before the credits role. He tends to not make it to the stories end. He becomes the Expendable Male, there merely to protect the Final Girl as she ‘grows some balls’ as many would gladly put it.

Now, let’s approach the argument that many have with said scenario’s degrees of sexism, by observing our four main characters.

  • The idea of the Expendable Male is a baffling one. Do we as a society look at the adult male archetype as such? Many feel this is a subject that goes overlooked. It is predominantly shown in the media, the people you see dying randomly in action-horror-science fiction are almost always men, and rarely ever children. This would be the point where I would post a Joker meme stating: “Kill 50 males onscreen, nobody bat’s an eye….”
  • The standing stereotypical Final Girl who learns how to be more likened to the alpha male (alpha male who was expendable) but she survives. She usually survives by staying ‘pure’ during the film’s duration. She hides a lot, screams, falls down, but everyone cheers for her to live, and to become strong. Is this because society has been reared to hold the ‘virgin’ on a pedestal? Are we still so blind as a society to really think that has anything to do with the worth of a woman? Apparently so, considering what the societal demand is. First and foremost, she must be ‘pure’ but sexually appealing.
(c) Exterminate

(c) Exterminate

 

  • The predominantly used female character utilized as the sacrificial ‘slut’ who is ‘punished’ (Her death is usually drawn out, or, there’s a long amount of screen time where she is nude or behaving suggestively) I still remember the day it struck me that this was actually a symbol of sorts, a ‘nod’ to a society that demanded the blood of the ‘slut’. Granted much has changed since biblical times, the fact still remains, the people like to see those who display something deemed by society as a flaw be made to suffer, even if it’s just in a fictional format. So if a female is kissing for a long enough duration… she is essentially kissing death in the viewers eyes. How many times have you heard, “Oh she’s gonna die.” As soon as the girl bends over, has sex, fools around, sits ‘inappropriately’ or winks at a fellow who holds her gaze in a horror film?
(c) Exterminate

(c) Exterminate

 

 

  • The cowardly male, who is essentially ‘punished’ for not being enough of a man. (His death is usually very drawn out, or very humiliating) Much like the ‘slut’ the coward is one of those characters the audience sits at the edge of their seats, just waiting for them to die. Is this a nod to society’s expectations upon the male gender? I can’t help but think so.

 

Males in horror films are more likely to die quickly in the most graphic of sequences; in contrast to this, females tend to be the prime focus during the duration of most horror films. Their torment consisting of being stalked, hiding, being confined, falling down, or being cornered. Essentially the prime focus goes to watching the female characters for drawn out durations whilst they are at the peak of terror.

 

(c) Exterminate

This would be the point where I would post a Joker meme stating: “Kill 50 males onscreen, nobody bat’s an eye….”

Society as a whole is the reason why these tropes exist. See Joss Whedon’s Cabin in the Woods for a great view of what has made the beast function all this time, as well as an enjoyable visual breakdown of the stereotypes.

I come to the conclusion that both genders are looking down a long tunnel when it comes to equality on and off the screen. Between the Final Girl and the Expendable Male, both parties seem to have a right to complain.

 

I’d like to finish with this final thought:

In a perfect world, horror would be indiscriminate when it comes to who and how someone will die, but everyone should die, because it’s a horror film and that is the point of watching it. It’s not for everyone as it is the stuff of nightmares but some of us have learned to enjoy our bad dreams. I have favourite characters, and beloved films that most certainly fall into the brackets. We all do. But really what it comes down to is society has its hang-ups, and until we opt to shatter the mold of what makes a good man or a good woman, this is what we will all have to deal with. Occasionally a film comes along that doesn’t utilize the genre formula but it is admittedly, far and few between. Maybe someday we will see more. Until then, all the women and the men in horror must die in the fashion they have grown so accustomed to.

So the next time you see a girl in a movie who is naked, overtly sexual, and being murdered, or a guy hiding, crying in a corner before taking a machete to the face, consider the reasons why you cheer. Cheer because the gore is amazing, cheer because it’s scary and that’s why we watch horror movies. But for fucks sake, don’t cheer on the idea that she’s a ‘slut’ who is getting what she deserves, or that he’s not enough of a man to live.

3 Comments on this post.

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  • Aaron Mason
    11 August 2014 at 4:14 pm - Reply

    You did a great job of staying neutral on this topic. I felt like you didn’t lean in either direction or take sides. You definitely broadened my thinking for the next time I watch a horror film.

  • Flint
    11 August 2014 at 5:02 pm - Reply

    I liked this, could see a whole series done on these two tropes from your style and neutrality.

  • Robert Butler
    18 August 2014 at 8:00 pm - Reply

    Great article and great point!I love horror movies and you hit it right on point!

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