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.




The Importance of Saying Fuck You (and Meaning It)

kevinthestrangelogo4I believe the key to happiness is the ability to say “Fuck You” to anyone, anywhere, anytime, and mean it.

I recently watched the new Mark Wahlberg flick, “The Gambler”, and was delighted to see that the premise of the flick (it’s a remake, I don’t know if the premise is the same or if it’s a remake in name only because I’ve never seen the original) is exactly that. The importance of the main character getting to that very special place in his life where he’s able to look anyone in the eye, rich, poor, family, employer, lover and say “Fuck You”.

This is exactly how I live my life.

At one point in the film, there’s a great exchange between Wahlberg’s character and John Goodman wherein John’s character tell him that if he ever gets up to 2 million dollars in profit while gambling, he’s got “Fuck You” money and he should quit. It’s “Fuck You” money because he’ll be able to buy a nice house in cash, a tank of a car in cash, he’ll be able to put enough money in stocks and bank accounts to pay his property taxes with the interest and he can live the rest of his life knowing that no matter what happens, he’ll have enough money to say “Fuck You” to anybody.

Spoiler alert. Mark proves to John by the end of the movie that there’s another way to say “Fuck You”. You say it by owing nothing to nobody, baby. And that’s just exactly the way I like it.

You might look at my life, I’m very public about it, and say, “Kevin Strange? That dude? He’s a schmuck who lives in the ghetto. He doesn’t have shit.” Exactly. I don’t have shit. You have shit, but do you really? Or does your bank own your car and your house? Even if it’s paid off, do you really own it or will your wife take it from you the second the kids graduate college and she can finally be done with your bullshit?

How’s your job security? Got health insurance, 401K, sick leave, vacation time? Or do you live paycheck to paycheck paying for all of that shit that can be taken from you in an instant when your cocksucker manager you’ve hated for fifteen years asks you to come talk to him in the office for a second?

Look, I’m not telling you to live my life. I’m not saying I’m right. What I’m saying is that I don’t owe any money to anyone. My car is mine. I rent so I don’t have to go into debt to a bank and wear a suit and tie, shave my beard, cover my tattoos to go beg them to let me have a second mortgage so I can pay off the credit cards I used to buy the boat I haven’t been able to use in three years because I’ve been working overtime at the office to pay for my teenage daughter’s new kid.

What I’m saying is, I can tell my boss to go fuck himself anytime I feel like it. Literally. I can take a beautiful woman to the Bahamas for a couple of days and show her a great time not because I’m made of money but because if you wait till the last minute, you can usually book a cruise for about 600 bucks per person and I’ve got a monthly nut I have to get over of less than 500. I live small as fuck. I barely own anything so I can spend my time making crazy fucking movies and writing crazy fucking books and it doesn’t matter if I decide to appear in a scene wearing an adult diaper pretending to eat my own shit because “Fuck You” that’s why. I can write an entire novel about insects fucking because “Fuck You” that’s why.

I answer to no one.

I don’t worry myself into an anxiety ridden sleep over how I’m going to make the next mortgage payment or if a lump on the back of my neck is cancer. I don’t keep quiet about my wife cheating on me because I can’t afford a divorce and know she’ll take the kids and house because I don’t have a wife or kids or a house specifically so that if and when shit goes south in a relationship it’s “Fuck You”.

Your stuff and your family means the world to you. It’s what makes your life fulfilling and a lot of you right now are saying, “Yeah? Go fuck yourself! I LIKE my mortgage and I LIKE my marriage and I can’t WAIT to send my kids to college!” And that’s admirable. I’m glad you’re kicking ass and I’m glad you’re fulfilled, but one thing you can’t do is say “Fuck You” to anybody because all that shit rests solely on your back and your back alone. And you’ll work the rest of your life to make sure that all of those people are secure and happy and healthy and that’s great. It really truly is.

But me? I can fly to New York to hang out with my buddies Danger and Bradley on a random Saturday night because “Fuck You”. I can write and direct seven feature films exactly the way I want to because “Fuck You”. I can write a dozen books anyway I want because “Fuck You”. I can surprise a pretty lady by taking her to a casino and dropping five hundred bucks in her lap to blow any way she wants because “Fuck You”.

Am I bragging? Maybe. But is it really any different than your 2015 Dodge Charger or the heated pool behind your two story house? Your things and your family make your life worthwhile. My experiences make mine. My ability to be spontaneous makes mine. My art makes mine. My ability to up and go on tour across the country selling all that art makes mine. The fact that I answer to absolutely no one makes mine.

And if you can’t respect that?

Fuck You.