How To Make Horror Fiction Cool Again (Or How I Got Blocked On Facebook By Joe Lansdale)

This past week, renowned author Joe Lansdale blocked me on social media. He blocked me because I took exception to a post of his denigrating prayer while the bodies of the Texas church shooting victims still lay in the morgue.

Mr. Lansdale also used this opportune time as families of the victims still stood in shock at what had happened to call for stricter gun control. Never mind that the perpetrator of the shooting had obtained these guns either totally illegally or because of a clerical error at the US Air force after being dishonorably discharged for abusing his own ex-wife and son.

Nevermind that the person who stopped the shooting before the perpetrator was finished murdering everyone in the church was an ex-NRA instructor and expert marksman who shot him at least twice and chased him off the church property.

In short, Mr. Lansdale was just being your average horror novelist on social media in the current year. And when pressed to defend his beliefs and statements after having spent years getting rich and famous off of gun violence, he saw fit to shut down and silence the conversation rather than let the marketplace of free ideas decide if he was right or wrong.

Look, Joe Lansdale is one of my favorite authors. He is a powerhouse storyteller and has inspired me and my writing for years. Also, I’m no Christian. I’m a staunch atheist. But there is a time and a place to debate the practicalities and effectiveness of religious prayer (you might be surprised where I fall on that particular topic.) And that time ain’t while the blood is still drying on the church floor.

Furthermore, before abruptly ending the conversation and blocking me, Mr. Lansdale made the audacious claim that he writes ultra-violent shoot-em-up fiction AS CAUTIONARY TALES because we live in violent times!

This is akin to the Notorious BIG or Snoop Dogg claiming that they didn’t glorify gang culture. That their music, videos and lifestyle were merely a reflection of the rough and tumble streets in which they grew up. These excuses were always tongue in cheek as they pushed the gang bang aesthetic further and further and shoveled boatloads of cash into their bank accounts in the process.

As a final nail in the coffin, Mr. Lansdale then admitted to being a gun owner himself. Now I don’t know or care where he lives or if this analogy literally applies to him or not, but calling for gun control as a celebrity is exactly the same to me as a celebrity who calls for open borders or lax immigration laws while living behind gated all-white communities protected by armed guards.

In other words, Mr. Lansdale is virtue signalling to his liberal masters (while I have to imagine alienating a large portion of his audience) doing his best to claim some kind of moral high ground while ignoring blocking and refusing to participate in discussions about his blatant hypocrisy.

And Joe Lansdale is not alone. Not only is he not alone in his sanctimonious liberal virtue signalling, he’s not alone in having blocked me on social media for calling him out and trying to make him explain his public positions on social matters. Positions which serve to do nothing except keep his head safe in this era of SJW witch hunting.

For such a bold writer willing to take so many chances in his fiction, in the real world he capitulates immediately to the most trendy and popular talking points of his compatriots. It’s almost like his publishing contracts and money train are at stake?

In our brief exchange, I compared Mr. Lansdale to Alice Cooper in the 90s. After decades of taunting and fanning the flames of the Satanic Panic and getting rich doing so, Mr. Cooper retired to liberal land where he played golf and conveniently claimed to be a Christian. Claimed he was only playing a character on the Tee-Vee.

It’s no coincidence that rock music and heavy metal fell off in the late 90s and has never recovered. As such, horror fiction has fallen off due in no small part to the great authors of the genre from the 80s and 90s like Joe Lansdale pulling an Alice Cooper, trying to have it both ways capitalizing on the culture while trying to act morally superior to it.

If we ever want to make horror fiction cool again, we have to start ruffling some feathers. Live the goddamn gimmick, man. You want to scare people? Shock people? Piss people off? Get people talking? We have to start taking cultural risks again. Dare to be unpopular with trendy mainstream cultural values.

Especially those of us who write bizarro and hardcore horror. We expect readers to take our fiction seriously as truly provocative when the majority of us are triggered by the lamest little incidents online? When we fall all over ourselves to virtue signal to whatever new trendy activist hashtag pops up next week?

Nah, son.

Show kids that breaking the conditioning of our oppressive liberal masters and screaming outside the lines, that we will NOT do what they fucking tell us not only has value and significance, but is cool as fuck to do.

If we’re ever going to make horror cool again, we have to start living the lifestyle. Fuck the system. Raise hell.