The Roots of Horror

Here’s an excerpt from the Karen Swallow Prior’s American Nightmare–New Hit TV Series Is Haunted by Infidelity & Abortion from the new issue of Salvo

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Current cultural conditions being what they are, it’s almost reassuring to find abortion presented as, well, horrifying. An interesting turn-of-phrase is offered by Murphy in one interview: “I was supposed to be born on Halloween,” he told TV Guide in explaining his lifelong infatuation with the horror genre, but “I didn’t come out on my due date.”3 It’s a small thing, this reference to his yet-unborn-self as an agential “I,” but revealing nevertheless. Although identifying as homosexual, Murphy was raised Catholic, went to a Catholic grade school, and said in an interview with National Public Radio that he still attends church.4

The pro-life point is conveyed in subtle ways, too. The prophecy of doom that opens the pilot episode is spoken by a young girl with Down Syndrome who lingers outside the creepy house. One might fear that a show like this would portray such a character mockingly, but not so. The show flashes forward to the present, and the little girl, Adelaide, is now a grown woman. Her mother, Constance (Jessica Lange’s character, a role for which she won a Golden Globe award), suggests that if testing had been available when she was pregnant with Adelaide, she would have aborted her.

Given that this line is spoken by the most villainous [living] character in the show, it is clearly meant to align the idea of aborting a disabled child squarely with evil.

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Read the rest.

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