Ben’s Blog: Post Horror Pillow Fights.

Posted July 24th, 2017 by Ben

Genre has rules, but you can’t learn them.

Above is one of the better examples of minor youtube trend in which people pick pillow fights with random strangers. As far as I can tell this prank found its genesis in the film below, which has a slow start but a pleasing combat…

Neither is the film that first introduced me to the genre but where it started and who did it best is of little significance. What matters is the simple joy of a random attack of on street soft play. And it is joyful. It is silly and satisfying watching these harmless fights play out, a fleeting nonsense that I bring to your attention because it is also the best metaphor I’ve yet come across for how genre actually works.

There has recently been a non-pillow related furore about the use of the term “post-horror” to describe a series of movies that are, depending on your inclination, either radically redefining the genre, or pissing around with it in a lacklustre manner.

“A Ghost Story”

Whichever side of that debate you fall down on, all I know is that clearly the term “post-horror” is an abomination that deserves to be dragged to hell along with both “alt-country” and “alt-right” (though there probably is a decent post-horror mumblecore movie to be made in which Richard B Spencer is menaced by a monstrous frog called Pepe, probably with a soundtrack by Calexico). In order to be “post” horror needs to become a fixed thing, a thing that can stop being itself. This would require it to be a thing that has hard and fast rules or worst still, easy to learn beats. In order for “post-horror” to exist then genre has to be a straightjacket.

For many writers, for most producers, for all distributors, that is exactly what genre is. It is the box your product fits in. It is the slide rule by which your creativity can finally be measured. Is this a successful romcom? Well let’s see, meet cute, a complication, the hook, the swivel, the dark moment and the bit where they declare their love in a public place and everyone applauds are all nestling in there like warts on a toad, so luckily this script is mathematically enjoyable. But that is not how genre works.

Genre is what happens when a stranger carrying two pillows throws you one and then hits you round the head with the other. Somewhere between you catching your pillow and being struck by theirs you realise what the next beat of the story is.

Genre is the game played between artist and audience. Of course you can lay out the rules so that everyone plays nice but at its most skilful and most fun genre is a game where the rules are never codified. Instead they remain fluid but always shared, the last rule dictating the next, the audience alert, involved and never more than one step ahead or behind.

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