Wikipedia Entry On 'Horror Films' Completely Leaves Out Women Directors

Aussie filmmaker Briony Kidd ("The Room at the Top of the Stairs", Stranger With My Face Film Festival) recently pointed out the entry for "horror film" on Wikipedia seems to be, er, lacking in input not only about women directors, but about women as horror fans, and basically about women in general.

In a general discussion about horror films today, the entry states that:

Movie makers also go as far as to integrate women relatable topics such as pregnancy, motherhood, lesbian relationships, and babysitting jobs into their films in order to gain even more female oriented audiences

The source of this information is an academic article entitled "There's More Than One Way to Lose Your Heart: the American film industry, early teen slasher films, and female youth" published in the Cinema Journal, published in September 2011 by Richard Nowell, author of the film book "Blood Money" (Cinema Journal Volume 51, Number 1, Fall 2011 pp. 115-140 | 10.1353/cj.2011.0073).

Now, while I can't read that article because my fucking old university won't give me database library access, I can assure you that this is insulting and vapid. I'm going to give Richard Nowell the benefit of the doubt and assume that the Wikipedia writer interpreted everything Nowell said in the most rudimentary, unimaginative way and that what Nowell actually wrote was poignant and relevant.

Let me explain:

Nowhere in this Wikipedia article does the author state, "Horror films are for men, made by men, mostly for men" but that is exactly what is implied by the sentence I quoted above. Not only are horror films of, by, and for men, but the entire WORLD is of, by, and for men. Women as fans, artists, audience members, actresses, and filmmakers can be summed up in several stereotypes. In fact, it is so well understood that horror is all for dudes that we have to specifically mention that "oh yeah, and to get chicks to watch the movies they stuck in, like, real-life situations chicks deal with like being a lesbian, or babysitting. Or whatever chicks do. I'm not sure."

This attitude, while seemingly harmless and stupid, is actually the attitude that most men, in general, have of most women, in general, in the film industry, and I fucking think it stinks. Why can't we have a Wikipedia entry on "horror films" that includes some paragraphs about how women were kept out of the film industry in most capacities until the 1970s, so many horror films were not made by women until then? And that until the 1970s, most people were sexist and thought women were stupid, so didn't bother making horror movies that might appeal to such an oppressed and overly stereotyped group? Or that there is a REASON why women have been turned off by horror films in the past and are only now emerging as the creators of their own, equally important, versions of what horror is?

The reason there is no paragraph about that is that people don't care. If you're  a man in this country (USA, and for all intents and purposes Canada, the U.K., Australia, and probably a few other Western countries) you grow up thinking that everything is kind of for dudes, and if you want women to watch something/buy something/be interested in something, you need to make a specific ""women's interest"" version of that normal thing. Just like the assumption that the world is all white people and if you want to include black people you need to target them with a black-people only magazine or TV channel. Instead of including black people and women in whatever the mainstream media thing is, you just tack on a separate but equal aspect to whatever the "normal" heterosexual white male people are doing and you're all good.

So, "oh, you know what? We should get WOMEN, you know, half the population, to watch horror movies and be less bitchy about them. Maybe have, like, a babysitter in the film?"

This is what the author of the Wikipedia article believes happened. This author has no concept of hegemony, patriarchy, or even of his own stupidity and bad writing skills. And honestly – no mention of women as filmmakers in the entire Wikipedia article on ALL horror films?

So fuck the author, right? Who cares what this one person thinks?

Well, unfortunately thanks to that ignorant author we now have a Wikipedia entry that's the first thing that comes up on Google when you type in "horror films." This really vapid and childish sentence is now forever etched as "truth" in the world of the Internet. Great.

3 thoughts on “Wikipedia Entry On 'Horror Films' Completely Leaves Out Women Directors”

  1. The great thing about Wikipedia is that anyone can edit. The worst thing about Wikipedia is that anyone can edit.

    That's my way of saying that if you object to something, edit the page and explain why I should be removed. If you cannot or would rather not take time (perfectly fair), every article has an associated discussion page where you can request an edit.

    I doubt anyone is particularly wedded to that passage you pointed out. It would definitely help your case f you have an alternate source on hand.

  2. I just might make some edits to the article.. Honestly, do I need a source to show the 5,000 horror films directed by women? Do the films themselves count as sources, or do I have to prove that they exist because no one believes me? Maybe I can link this blog as a source.

    I can think of at least 5 sources off the top of my head that show how women filmmakers have been subjected to a patriarchal male gaze throughout film, and human, history.

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