chapter  9
14 Pages

Sensation Seeking and the Taste for Vicarious Horror

The taste for morbid, frightening, and horror-invoking stimuli is nothing new, only the media have changed. Spectators at gladiatorial contests or public executions did not consider their recreation abnormal or perverted. No Roman wrote articles asking why people enjoy watching humans being eaten by wild animals. The monster myths related around the open camp-fire and the Grand Guignol theater have been transformed by modern technology to the film and television media. The media improve their techniques to bring more graphic violence to the screen. Older horror films are almost detached compared to the modem genre with Technicolor gore and special effects to image dismemberment and torture. Life imitates art and the nightly local television news programs largely bring us real murders, assaults, fires, and accidents (or their aftermaths) with detailed accounts by bystanders and victims.