American Horror Story: Conceptualizing Ideas about Violence and Sexuality

It starts with the news. We see graphic images of people dying on a daily basis and we become accustomed to seeing violence in our everyday lives. Once we accept reality, violence finds it way to the big screen, television and soon, we become trapped. Trapped in a web of violence, but we don’t see it that way.

Violence in the media is not something that makes us cringe much anymore. It has always surrounded us in various media outlets and no one has ever suspected it to be anything but the norm. What we don’t seem to understand, however, is that violence is not a natural norm.

When it comes to portraying violence in the media, we normally don’t think twice about. When we talk about adding another element to the mix, something like nudity, we reevaluate our choices. Seeing parts of the human body that we don’t see every day scares us.

Just because we walk around with clothes on doesn’t mean we don’t know what’s underneath them. With violence, we wouldn’t know what a person who had been attacked violently looked like if the news didn’t show us. So then why are we so comfortable with accepting the familiar as opposed to the unfamiliar?

Take, for example, the show American Horror Story. Ryan Murphy, who is also the creator of Fox’s hit show Glee, created American Horror Story and showed a whole other side of his creative mind.

The show is filled with sick, twisted images that vary between being overly sexual or unnaturally violent. Either way, Murphy has a way of drawing in a large following for his dark fantasies.

According to “Deadline”, viewership for American Horror Story has increased since the last season premiered last fall. People are somehow attracted to the violent and sexual nature of the program as it expresses more of that in the hour time slot than any other show airing on basic cable.

There is something to be said about how Murphy gets away with having people enjoy his disturbing content. He has pushed the envelope so many times on the most recent season alone that deserves some sort of high praise. Whether it’s humanizing a clown serial killer or addressing the sexual desires of a pair of conjoined twins., Murphy treads where most of us are too guilty to.

American Horror Story brings us to that place inside of our minds that we know exists, but none of us dare to explore. Murphy answers the questions about people’s motives for violence and addresses sexuality in a way that none of us thought we could. He makes it acceptable for the audience to embrace their darkest thoughts with no concern for the criticism that follows.

Before American Horror Story, we have only seen violence as something to fear because we only knew what the media initially presented us. We never understand a murderer’s underlying motives because they tend not to talk about it. American Horror Story, answers that question for us. Murphy’s show gives viewers some insight as to why people do what they do.

Aside from helping us understand violence better, Murphy also forces us think about sexuality as well. Instead of shaming the human body and the sexual nature of people in general, Murphy embraces it. He presents us with every type of sexual scenario and instead of making blatant social commentary, he asks us to consider the actions and form our own opinions.

Ultimately it is shows like American Horror Story and people like Ryan Murphy that help reshape our perspectives on ideas like violence and sexuality. By presenting us with a different picture than what the mainstream media wants us to think, we are allowed to think in whatever way we want.