Deborah Gyapong: Be very afraid---says David Goldman of First Things

Be very afraid---says David Goldman of First Things

The magazine's associate editor writes:

Why do Americans pay to watch images as revolting as the cinematic imagination can discover? Many things might explain the vast new market for uncanny evil. If you do not believe in God, you will believe in anything, to misquote G.K. Chesterton; and, one might add, if you do not feel God’s presence, you will become desperate to feel anything at all. Terror and horror create at least some kind of feeling. After pornography has jaded the capacity to feel pleasure, what remains is the capacity to feel fear and pain.

But there is a pattern to the highs and lows of the horror genre that may reflect something specific about Hollywood’s feeding of the mood of the United States—something about America’s encounter with truly horrible events, from the Second World War through Vietnam and down to the attacks of September 11, 2001 and the lingering conflict in Iraq. Terror loiters in dark corners just off the public square.

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