This past weekend we attended the second annual Joe Bob’s Jamboree – our second convention, first drive-in experience, and the long-awaited chance to finally meet some of our online friends in real life. While we were there, similar to our experience at our first Scarefest in 2021, I was continually struck with how welcome and at home I felt. Everyone was friendly in a comfortable way – the kind of way where you know what to expect from both the conversation and the gaps in conversation alike. It is a community that speaks in a shorthand that, when you’re on the inside for long enough, you forget isn’t commonplace. We don’t have to explain what a giallo is or that Basket Case is a cult favorite movie or why it is so important to your collection to have the explicit puzzle that you fully intend to douse in fake blood.
I think a kind of magic appears in these settings. When you don’t have to break the ice you can get right down to the heart of it all, and at our hearts we are people that are so into what we love that we are willing to spend hundreds of dollars and travel hundreds of miles to come together and celebrate for far too short a time. We all wanted it to be a successful celebration, and to that end we were offering each other free drinks, standing in line for one another, complimenting shirts that may evade the appreciation of the folks in our daily lives.
By the way, this goes for attendees and celebrity guests alike.
Having felt so embraced by people that I regard so warmly makes me want to pass along such a welcome. I want to invite people into this world. I want them to know they are valued in every conversation we have. And this community – the horror community – grounds me in this endeavor more than any other group I am a part of.
Are there cliques? Of course, because we are human and the odds make that inevitable. Are there jerks? Again, of course. And we all know there is discourse in the horror community. Hell, the whole purpose of WYLFSM is a tongue-in-cheek approach to discussing what makes a good/shit horror movie. If you’re reading this, then hopefully you know by now that Trav and I celebrate the horror genre as a whole and feel that every movie belongs, even if we don’t personally love it.
This is the energy we try to give to the horror community as we participate and as we invite others in. Lately I find myself carrying this mindset into other areas of my life as well. The world is far too big and diverse a place to decide that only my own perspective, wants, and experiences should matter. We should celebrate daily and delight in one another’s happiness.
I know that there are other groups, communities, fandoms, etc. that offer this kind of refuge or sense of belonging. I’ve gone to football games in groups in a mixture of both teams’ colors. I’ve gotten caught up talking sewing projects with total strangers in the craft store during a fabric sale. I absolutely live for a show-specific shit-posting page. So no, this phenomena isn’t unique to horror. But I think there is something poetically beautiful about a bunch of weirdoes being brought together by their love of gore, terror, schlock, shock, and tasteful/tasteless nudity who work to make the world a little nicer and brighter.