We live during a new Golden Age of horror, one where our often-maligned genre is finally getting the respect it has always deserved. But every time we take a few steps forward, it seems someone or something pushes us a few steps back. Case in point: The same week Jordan Peele’s Us scores a 100% Freshness Rating on Rotten Tomatoes, Instagram suggests horror fans are more likely to engage in dangerous, potentially fatal activities than the general public.
We were first alerted to the situation by a horror podcaster who informed us that searching the popular social media site for posts tagged “#Horror” will produce the following offer from Instagram:
“Can we help? Posts with words or tags you’re searching for often encourage behavior that can cause harm and even lead to death. If you’re going through something difficult, we’d like to help.”
Another screen reads:
“We’ve hidden posts for #horror to protect our community from content that may encourage behavior that can cause harm and even lead to death.”
From there, you can ignore this offer for “help” and continue on, or select “Get Support” for tips on how to reach out to friends and support networks, and even a link to speak to a professional.
I’m sure someone at Instagram thought, “This will show the public that we care about them.”
Actually, Instagram’s offer for “help” only reinforces decades’ old stereotypes. It suggests those who enjoy horror movies are most likely depressed, potentially violent loners. It stinks of the same “Satanic Panic” that equated heavy metal music with devil worship and human sacrifices. In a nutshell, it suggests horror fans are more likely than members of the general public to have something “wrong” with them—that we aren’t normal.
And it’s total bullshit.
Meanwhile, there is no offer for “help” in posts tagged “#Yolo”, “#SoDrunk”, “#AdrenalineJunkie”, “#Wasted”, “#Murder”, “#ThugLife” and many other truly questionable terms that suggest actual dangerous behavior. Even “#Satan” is a “safer” search than “#Horror”.
Maybe one day, horror fans will no longer be forced to carry the stigma of being depraved, unhinged, and potentially dangerous. But not today.
What do you think of Instagram’s offer of “help” for those searching the site for posts tagged “#Horror”? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Well, maybe not on Instagram in this case!