Media Analysis: American Horror Story American Horror Story is an FX horror-drama television show, as well as an anthology series; each season of the show has a different cast and storyline. The show was created by Ryan Murphy (creator of the FOX show Glee) and Brad Falchuk (producer of Nip/Tuck), and premiered on October 5, 2011. The first season of the show follows the Harmon family as they settle into their new home in Los Angeles. They are unaware, however, that the mansion is haunted by its many former owners. The two main topics in which we covered in class that are utilized in the show are frightening and sexual content in media.
The focus of the first season is on infidelity and temptation. Ben and Vivien Harmon moved to Los Angeles from Boston with their daughter Violet in an attempt to start over and save their fragile marriage, after Ben had an affair with one of his students. Although they think the move will help, it only worsens their situation. The cable series is full of as much violence and sexual content as the writers and producers can get away with. With multiple instances of violence, sex, and nudity in every episode, the show draws a very large audience.
American Horror Story is FX’s most viewed series, with the pilot of the first season bringing in 3. 2 million viewers. The show gained viewers as it progressed, and the premiere of the second season had 3. 85 million viewers. In an interview by AfterElton. com contributor Brian Juergens, when asked about what he wanted to bring to the horror genre, producer Brad Falchuk said “In the case of the horror genre, your main goal is to scare people. You want people to be a little bit off balance afterwards. You want people to have their friends sleep over that night.
It also has a sub rating of LSV (offensive language, strong sexual content, and violence and gore). R-rated videos and magazines contain far more profane and explicit sexual content than network television shows, but sexual remarks and suggestions are becoming ever more frequent in public media today. In American Horror Story there are elements of the four major themes of sexuality in media. Sexual scenes in the show include examples of domination (sexual control of a person), exploitation (coercion of one person by way of power or status), reciprocity (consensual sex), and autoeroticism (self-stimulation, such as masturbation).
In the pilot of the first season Ben walks in on the housekeeper, Moira, masturbating. She tries to get him to sleep with her but he goes to another room and masturbates as well. Yet another storyline consists of Ben’s former student, Hayden, in which he had an affair with, who shows up and tries to convince him to stay with her. These scenes, along with many others throughout the season, go back to the theme of infidelity and temptation. The trailer for the first season of American Horror Story gives the basic plot of the show. It also makes use of frightening music and sounds to get the attention of fans of the horror genre.
The season two trailer also highlights each character’s traits and occupations briefly (Leo’s photography, Shelley’s sensuality, Lana Winters’ love for her partner, Wendy, etc. ). These short advertisements appeal to viewers by the use of catharsis. The audience of American Horror Story wants to be scared. It’s a way for them to escape, or animate, their own violent predispositions or inclinations; to purge themselves of their personal worries and apprehensions. Personally speaking, I find the sadistic and erotic nature of the show enjoyable.
It allows me and other viewers to gain vicious pleasure by identifying with the immoral and shady personalities of the characters in the show. The intent of the show can be pretty well summed up by the theories of scholar and professor, Dolf Zillmann, in Fundamentals of Media Effects (Bryant and Thompson): “Zillmann (1991a, 1991b) described horror as frightening because it releases empathetic responses toward victims and makes viewers apprehensive about becoming victims themselves. In other words, viewers identify with the victims and experience their terror vicariously.
Horror also frightens viewers because of their apprehensions; they fear being victims themselves. Finally, horror usually features a satisfying ending that viewers enjoy. ” American Horror Story has had its share of controversy with viewers already. Erin Brown, contributor for the Culture and Media Institute at the Media Research Center, writes: “The premiere of “American Horror Story” wasn’t just sexually and physically repulsive. Flashback scenes also featured a large dose of verbal and mental cruelty toward a Down syndrome girl – including her mother, played by Jessica Lange, wishing she’d aborted her.
To add to the violence, sex and abuse, there were 13 versions of the word “s**t,” and such delightful terms as “p***y” and “c**ksucker. ” With all this objectionable content, Entertainment Weekly still named American Horror Story one of its “Top Ten Things We Love this Week” putting it on their famous “Must List” in the October 7 issue. “This show has a potential to literally be shattering to all of the things that we consider to be normal,” one of the actors said during production. ” Many parental reviews of the show describe it as disturbing, terrifying, and even repulsive.
The three main age groups discussed in the Reactions to Disturbing or Frightening Media Content chapter of Fundamentals of Media Effects, 3-8, 9-12, and 12-17, are all thought to be too young for most parents. Some critics also consider American Horror Story to be a strained and overexcited mess. Though there are many frightening elements to the show, most of them are written off as cliche. The fact that in society today we are so used to seeing violence and sexual content in media, these happenings in the show are not as disconcerting as they would have been in the decades prior to the twenty-first century.