I was lucky enough to attend a meet-up last night that not only made for perfect Weekly Geek subject matter, but it also combined a few of my favorite things: gender politics, horror films and scary videogames. The Women in Games Boston group hosted an awesome Halloween-related talk on gender in horror games, informed by a healthy smattering of feminist film theory and horror movies.
Cinephile and game designer Matt Weise (from the fantastic Gambit/MIT Gamelab) gave a talk that examined games that take their cues from slasher flicks. He discussed “final girls” (you know, the tough lady who survives until the end and kills the monster/pervert/killer), gendered behavior, and the increasingly insane Clock Tower series of games. All in all, it was an awesome discussion wherein Weisse called for more women making horror media.
At the end, someone asked about what horror made by women would look like – since, inevitably, most games (and most horror films, for that matter) are largely made by creative teams of men. What would happen if you gave, say, director Katherine Brooks an excellent horror script, written by a phenomenal female genre writer — I’ll nominate Jane Espenson of Buffy and Battlestar Galactica fame — and a solid cast? What if you took a mostly-female team of talented game developers, and set them about to make something scary?
Have you ever heard of the old quote, paraphrased to something like this: men are ultimately afraid of women laughing at them. Women are afraid of men killing them.
That’s something I posed at the talk – the idea that women would make horror games based on this idea, and without getting into trigger-territory, I’d wager that a solid, scary-as-hell media work made from a female perspective would make use of the mechanics of intimacy, vulnerability, and the fear of (and presence of) violence.
There are certainly examples of this in cinema, and plenty of traditional (read: still largely made by dudes) flicks directed by women, but I want to see more from the female perspective.
Let’s take things another step. What about lesbian horror? I can think of precisely one mainstream-released flick that already exists: 1982 slasher The Slumber Party Massacre, written by feminist/queer activist Rita Mae Brown (who penned lesbian erotica Rubyfruit Jungle), and directed by Amy Holden Jones. Brown wrote the movie as an extremely over-the-top, nudity-laden parody of the genre (though not everyone seems to have gotten the point).
Like Weise, I’d like to see more women (queer or otherwise) working in the genre – making movies, games, you name it. Geeks, I’d like to know what you think – would queer horror look different? Would more women making scary flicks mean a new perspective?