Unrealistic Dating Depictions in Fiction: Classic 70’s Slasher Films
The other day I was watching horror classic Scream and was reminded of the rules outlined in 70s and 80s slasher flicks (think Halloween, Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street). As noted by the nerdy Pantsless Bear Randy (who of course survives the film), the first rule of slashers is: don’t have sex with anyone. I believe (with no basis and no more than 10 minutes thought given to it) that these films in turn took the origins of this rule from urban legends, which themselves adopt similar principles to folklore that has been passed from generation to generation.
In these urban legends when a woman is going to be decapitated by the maniac hiding in the backseat or witness her boyfriend being eviscerated by an escaped lunatic with a hook hand, it will usually be a woman who is out of the house at night on her own or in a car alone with her boyfriend (presumably to have sex, unless she happens to be in the process of giving him the ‘let’s just be friends speech’, at which point he arguably becomes a bigger threat than the hook man).
The purpose of these urban legends (and the folklore that proceeded them, such as little red riding hood) is often to scare women out of doing what possessive fathers and beta males expected they might otherwise do – sneak off and have sex in their boyfriend’s care or shag a wolf*. In short, it was a primitive way to scare women off having sex or embracing sexuality.
Similarly, there is no safer bet in the kind of slasher films described above than that a girl who gets around will not make it to the third reel. Not only will she not make it, she will typically find herself decapitated, impaled or otherwise disembowelled by a knife/axe/chainsaw swinging nutcase. In short, the message of these films is that promiscuous women die slow, painful deaths.
So does this message hold up? Let me rattle off a few names for you:
- Joan Collins: Married five times and romantically linked to as many as 90 men and allegedly some women – still kicking at 81;
- Elizabeth Taylor: Married eight times to seven different dudes. In short had more cock than a battery hen – died at 79;
- Linsday Lohan: Listed 36 famous conquests as part of her rehab (to say nothing of the not-so-famous ones) and despite numerous DUIs and drug related offences appears to have a half-life not dissimilar to depleted uranium.
In short, being a little promiscuous does not automatically result in a shortened life expectancy (although shagging a sitting US president probably shortened Marylin Monroe‘s stint on this earth) and certainly doesn’t mean your vital organs will be left hanging from a tree for your parents to find.
So how did this become the conventional wisdom of 70s horror cinema? Beta males. In short, our much-loved Pantsless Bears got so sick of seeing the girls they wined and dined subsequently sneak off to have sex with a water polo player in his car that they took over Hollywood in an effort to scare women away from promiscuity. So, if the legend is to be taken seriously, who in fact are your favourite axe swinging masked murderers? The same guys that wine and dine girls and express their love on the first date with gifts and chocolates only to see their date flee in horror. The guy that tries to become a girl’s ‘best friend’ in the hope they will one day five years from now win their affections, if only because of the desired woman’s biological clock, only to see a conga line of athletes, musicians, models and even hipsters pass through her bedroom. These are your maniacs, hiding in plain site. And their rage is REAL.
*I might have misunderstood this one