Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn

Morality of Horror

In today's Hitchcock class, we watched the Birds - it got me thinking again about the morality of horror films. In many of them, the people killed are previously shown to do some things that society (or some large faction, at least) disapproves of, from teens having sex to people being really controlling. Discarding the films (like the Leprechaun series) where they get particularly appropriate deaths, it still seems that there's a moral element to horror films. I brought this up in class, and then thought of a possible explanation - horror films may represent a catharsis over unsatisfied desires to enforce morals, and give a bit of life to the judgemental (I recently found that my long-used spelling of judgemental is valid in British English. Hurrah!) puritan in all of us that hates how the unjust don't always get their due, by giving them far more than their due. It's interesting how the instrument of this justice is often both despicable and a creation of unjust (by some frameworks) situations themselves (the vigilante justice that led to the immortalisation of Freddy Krueger in the Nightmare on Elm Street series is of this sort, elaborated further by the insertion of a backstory through his childhood in later works of the series). It seems to be characteristic of the genre that the unjust are punishing each other, to the satisfaction of some parts of the viewer.

As a relativist, the extent to which I can really identify with this struggle is diminished to the level to which I can either dehumanise people who go against my deepest values or to which my frustrations with my values not being realised approximate those of someone who believes their values to be intrinsic to the nature of things. .. sometimes this is supplemented by the geek and voyeuristic factors (latter a la Hitchcock) in me that fascinates me with the powers and backgrounds of these characters. I suspect these latter are less than they once were. It is strange to watch some part of me delight in packing away every revelation about a character that's acquired my interest, as well as some part of me really disliking that tendency in myself (and others) and wanting to stomp it out. Ahh, c'est la vie.

PC Nation listed the 50 best tech products of all time by their reckoning. Some comments:

  • Their choice of Netscape Navigator is awfully specific. Netscape itself was a fine browser, but it was not uniquely good for a browser. Its predecessors (many of which I used and remember) like Mosaic and Viola were similar in capability (I think Mosaic was actually a better browser than many versions of Netscape). This should really be about web browsers in general rather than Netscape, which I think got most of its fame by nicely blendng web, mail, and usenet functionality into a single nice client (Netscape 2.x and 3.x were the glory days). Their comment regarding its loss to IE is pretty much bunk.
  • Lotus 1-2-3 for DOS was an excellent choice for number 5 (although VisiCalc was also quite good, and their dismissal of VisiCalc as just another competitor is off -- VisiCalc started the whole market, and 1-2-3 was the next generation, borrowing very very liberally from VisiCalc's design and interface)
  • The iPod is novel primarily for non-technical reasons. The Diamond Rio would be better put in sixth place as being what created the market (especially since Diamond braved a risky lawsuit over the device - my Dad and I both got Rios with half an expectation that the devices would be sued off the market within a year)
  • The Hayes modem was a good choice. They should've mentioned creation of the command set.
  • The StarTAC is an unusual choice. My first cellphone was a close descendant of the StarTAC, and it was wonderful, but I don't know if the StarTAC deserves special mention.
  • I wouldn't've listed a version number on Wordperfect - all versions of Wordperfect from that era were revolutionary, and I think slightly older versions were more so. It's nice that they mention Aldus Pagemaker and Brøderbund PrintShop
  • Tetris fits, as do the Atari 2600, the original GameBoy, and the NES8/Famicom (the Famicom was a better product that I wish they had mentioned). The IBM 700C and some of the other computers do not, neither does the Airport BaseStation. I fondly remember playing on the 2600 (I was rather young then)..
  • CompuServe deserves mention, but so do Delphi and Prodigy.
  • MacOSX indeed deserves mention - Apple did a fantastic job with modernising NeXTStep (even though I still think their Dock is a bit of a cock-up)
  • Why the SoundBlaster 16 and not the SoundBlaster?
  • Mmm. Hypercard.
  • Their reasoning for Excel's success was completely off, and it doesn't really belong there.
  • The Northgate OmniKey instead of the IBM Model M? WTF?!

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