In A Generation of Sociopaths: How the Baby Boomers Betrayed America, Bruce Cannon Gibney argues that the Baby Boomer generation (for his purposes, largely white, native-born Americans born between roughly 1940 and 1964) is best described as a group as sociopaths. For Gibney, the personal decisions and political actions of Boomers have been primarily characterized by self-interest, without care for consequence or conscience. Certainly, from a horror studies perspective, Boomers seem to have held a special interest in American horror throughout the decades. From the endangered Boomer teens in Halloween (John Carpenter, 1978), to the negligent Boomer parents in Poltergeist (Tobe Hooper, 1982) or Scream (Wes Craven, 1996), to today’s monstrous Boomers in Get Out (Jordan Peele, 2017) or Hereditary (Ari Aster, 2018). While work in horror studies has incidentally discussed Boomers’ representation in the genre, particularly work on 1970s American horror, there has not yet been sustained attention to the changing representation of this generation vis-à-vis the horror genre.
This panel seeks to begin this work by considering the relationship between the Baby Boomer generation and the American horror film from the 1970s to today.
Possible lines of inquiry may include but are not limited to:
- how has the representation of the Boomer generation changed throughout the decades, and what might these changes tell us about changing views on the genre in popular discourse?
- how has the representation of Boomers been incorporated into films’ marketing and paratexts during exhibition and distribution?
- what relationship might there be between the Boomer generation and horror films’ perceived audience(s)? how does the generation figure in to the changing conceptions of who watches horror films and who they are made for?
- how have remakes played into or against their original depictions of the Boomer generation?
- how might stardom and actors’ career paths relate to Boomer horror?
- how does Boomer horror figure in to studio imperatives, or studio executives’ perspectives on and relation to this generation?
- what is the relationship between Boomer representation and identity in horror? Who gets represented as part of the generation / how is the generation primarily defined via its representation in terms of race, class, politics, sexuality, gender, religion, ability, etc.?
If interested, please send an abstract (around 250-350 words), a brief biography (around 50-100 words), and a preliminary bibliography of 3-5 sources to Lindsey Decker at firstname.lastname@example.org AND Rebecca Gordon at email@example.com by EOD Tuesday, August 7th, 2018. Individuals who submit abstracts will be notified of final decisions by 8/14 at the latest.