Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Why I Love American Horror Story

"How can you watch that?!"

I hear this over and over from friends and family who just can't wrap their heads around the fact that I am an American Horror Story fanatic.

And, believe me, no one's more surprised than me.

I have a history of not liking horror movies to the point that if Ken wants to watch one, he waits until I'm not around because I don't want to see or hear it.

But I've noticed a change over the last 12 years.

First, it was Ken getting me into Zombies and Zombie lore, which led to me absolutely going bonkers over The Walking Dead.

Once I became comfortable with the Zombies, I found myself becoming more tolerant of story appropriate violence in any movie, not just horror.

BUT! - the story has to be well written, well acted and produced.

No violence and gore, just to have violence and gore.


Before we had a Neflix account, Ken and I checked out DVDs from our local public library.

We did this for many years, then, in the summer of 2013, Ken came home from the library with a DVD titled American Horror Story.



I mean, look at it!  Wouldn't you be a little pissed?  Haha! ;-)
Me:  "I can't believe you brought home a horror movie!"

Ken: "It's a TV show."

Me: "A whole TV series that's horror! That's even worse!"  (I really think I was looking forward to some serious, mindless, chick flickery ;-)

Ken: "Look, I've heard good things.  Give it 10 minutes, and if you don't like it, you never have to see it again."

Well, needless to say, it all went in a direction NO ONE expected.

We put ourselves on the waiting list for Asylum, with the full understanding that I would only be able to handle one episode at a time.

Yeah, that lasted for about the first four episodes, after that I couldn't stop watching.

SO, WHY?(spoiler ahead ;-)

If you know me, at all, the basics of incredible writing, acting, cinematography, direction, makeup and costumes are covered in the production of this show. Just that alone is enough to satisfy my Inner Art Student - ha!

Also, that first season took place in an old Victorian house.

I used to rent a room in an old, run down, Victorian house.

It's where I met Ken.

I'm glad I don't live there anymore, but I learned to run around that place in the dark, even the basement, without fear.

So, the premise that these people move into an old Victorian house, filled with a bunch of ghosts who died there, where they will also meet their demise as well, was very appealing.

As far as the other seasons go, I binge watch on Netflix, and I selectively take in spoilers throughout the year to prepare me for the craziest things that are in store for me when I finally get there.

But there's so much more that keeps my brain buzzing, like:
  • Freaks and weirdos are key players in each story
  • Difference, no matter what it is, is celebrated or represented.
  • Each season has a lot of the same actors, but they don't play the same characters.
  • Each season is a story, all on its own
  • Just in the last couple of years we have found out that all the stories are connected, and it's unfolding in very unique ways.
  • The keyword American, means that a lot of the subject matter in each season is based on real people, and real horrific things that have happened in American history.
  • The theme of each season is some aspect of human nature that has a history of leading to horrific outcomes in the lives of those involved and those around them.

My favorite ;-)
  • Unlike traditional horror movies where women are objectified, thanks to creator Ryan Murphy being out and proud,the ultimate, genius twist to this series, is that the men are objectified.

Ah! Brilliant! ;-)


There is a bigger reason why my psyche almost craves this show.

So weird for someone who is all about "living from your peace-filled center", right?

Well, I have recently been able to look at these past 12 years in another light.

I have spent the better part of this time, working with at-risk youth.

The kids in the school I worked at were all mostly in foster care and group homes.

Most of them, guilty of doing terrible things.

Most of them doing these terrible things because, the same or worse was happening to them.

You have to process it, put it in perspective and move on because, "We are here, now.  You are safe.  You are getting help.  Time to move forward."

Then I move on, and land in a program that is meant to be a reprieve for the kids.

Yup.  I was working with kids who weren't safe.

They would leave me and go home to horrendous lives.

Sexual abuse, physical abuse, verbal abuse, hunger, neglect.

It was my bosses job to keep Protective Services notified of red flags.

My job to keep an eye out for them.


So, yes, this is why I find a strange comfort in watching this show.

Not only is Ryan Murphy, the show's creator, a contemporary and kindred spirit, he has this unique ability, while in that world, to make sense of that which is horrific.

The world is a beautiful place.

There are amazing, incredible things that humans are capable of.

And, there is the dark side.

I'm very realistic.  I've never been one to put on rose colored glasses, so this has helped me do the work I've done the last 12 years.

But, dealing with this side of life takes its toll.

I do get good reports from my former students, but the majority of the news I get involves death, addiction, abuse, neglect and, yes, even suicide.

The kids I worked with at my last job?

I heard about their horror stories every day.

They are living them, even as I write this.


This is why. 

Sometimes, I just need to immerse myself in a world where all of this darkness and despair makes sense and has a purpose.

A world where darkness and despair, are transformed into something better than could possibly be imagined: Art!

Art, so pure that even a still from the moving picture is a piece of art all on its own.

Now, this is a promotional photo, but, come on!

Isn't this beautiful?

And it "says" so much.

See, there goes my Inner Art Student, again. ;-)


This photo is in honor of Tyler, a former student of mine who I believe would have grown to look just like Liz, had he not committed suicide in 2012.  

So, maybe this is all a little too morbid.

Maybe it's all a little too real.

All I know is, up to now, I've learned that humans are also capable of horrible things and that death is inevitable.

It doesn't mean I am desensitized and don't grieve.

Of course I am horrified and mourn.

I've just come to accept that humans are flawed and that the process of death is an integral and necessary part of life.

Following the Native American philosophies that speak to me, have helped me put it all in perspective, so I am able to leave my house.

American Horror Story helps me process it all and celebrate the beauty that can evolve from even the most horrific of circumstances.

Because, true to the American need for justice and a happy ending, when each season ends, those who were the most wicked, are served a heaping pile of red, hot Karma.

And the ones who have earned it, some in the bizarrest of ways, "live happily ever after", even if they are dead.



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