Crazy American Values!

Ok, this is a bit of a rant, so anyone not so inclined to indulge should skip this post.

I want to discuss crazy American values.

I recently came across a new US horror publisher. It’s a small press, with a fairly slick looking website. They espouse dark fiction, horror etc. Their ethos is Christian – they want to bring Christian values to secular society while embracing horror books. Okay, so far, I’m alright with this.

Then comes the crunch – in defining ‘horror’, we get the following (and I’m crudely paraphrasing of course):

Sex – oh no! there is no place for sex in a horror book! In fact, let’s tone it down to holding hands and chaste but longing glances. To apply a US movie censorship rating, they want PG.

Language – eek! don’t swear. That’s just plain wrong. Again, a PG value.

Violence – go for your life. R rated gorefests all the way!


This publisher was applying the standards from a Biblical standpoint. However, before I’m assailed by cries of religion-bashing. I’d like to point out I have seen, on at least two other occasions, other horror/dark publications supporting the same values.

So, sex and language, both everyday and even natural parts of life, are considered no go zones, yet violence, that which is antithesis to our functioning, law-governed society, is given free reign? What the hell is wrong with such American attitudes.

But it goes deeper. The US movie industry is an excellent example. Slasher movies, serials killers and the like, have ‘graced’ the silver screen for decades. Yet stray too far into sexuality, and the censor ogres come a-crashin’ in!

Why the glorification of violence, and the shunning of sex?

Perhaps it is the origin of the good ole US of A. Whereas Australia was initially populated by convicts (of which I proudly claim ‘First Fleet’ ancestry), often moral folk who were caught for petty crimes, America was initially filled by Britain’s cast-offs. Free settlers, often extremist religious pilgrims, who sought a ‘utopia’ away from the motherland. A utopia built on repressive puritanism, and an incredibly insular (can’t see beyond their own community) attitude.

Has this religious undercurrent – now seen among other incarnations as US paramilitary groups(‘survivalists’) and the Mormon state of Utah – subverted US culture? DAMN RIGHT IT HAS!

Of course, I’m not saying most Americans are morally warped; far from it. I would hope (and believe) most Americans are honest, open and fair-minded. But to what extent has this insular foundation, one set by puritannical standards, affected modern American thought?

Consider this – compare the murder rates, the gun ownership and general violent crime statistics of the US, with other Western countries, like Australia, and the nations of Europe. One country above all others stands out for shocking instances of violence, wrapped in a package of sexual denial, and neatly tied up with a bow of insularity.

Michael Moore had it right. Go see the movie ‘Bowling for Columbine’ if you don’t believe me. Especially take note of the attitudes and actions of the more liberal-minded Canadians. The contrast is striking. Given the military power and general influence the US has, this contrast is a true horror story.