Horror and Humanity

            In this TEDx Talk, Dr. Steven Schlozman presents an argument about horror as a genre that seems counterintuitive: that horror brings us closer to our fellow human beings and even promotes love. Given how most people perceive the genre as grotesque or kitschy, this is a bold claim to make. However, the way Dr. Schlozman builds his ethos and develops his argument by relating strongly to his audience helps strengthen this interesting perspective.

            Dr. Schlozman begins relating to the audience almost immediately by telling a story of when he as a child watched a horror movie and was so scared he ran about the house turning every single light on. This is a familiar image: who hasn’t been terrified by that movie they watched too young? Dr. Schlozman effectively relates himself to the audience in this way. He also subtly indicates his own qualifications (bragging in the way mentioned in Thank You for Arguing) in a way that doesn’t come across as inflated or cocky. He mentions, for example, the students he teaches at Harvard, and shares the fact that he is a child psychiatrist through a joke rather than a mere statement. He builds his credibility as a knowledgeable source while remaining relatable to the audience.

            Relatability is another method Dr. Schlozman implements. He names familiar stories of horror to his audience, such as Nightmare on Elm Street or Alien. He uses familiar images, such as a picture of a pug, before moving into larger, broader conjectures about the way horror artists use familiar concepts to distort or world perspectives. Dr. Schlozman is employing broad, relatively difficult to understand concepts—but he ties them into familiarity and recognizable narratives to appeal to his audience.

            Images are frequently used in TED Talks, and Dr. Schlozman chooses to employ this as well. Some of the images displayed are quite scary to look at, and are juxtaposed with the fact that he is talking about community and love. This juxtaposition can help keep the audience focused, curious as to the way he will connect these opposing sides. Dr. Schlozman uses these techniques to construct his argument that horror teaches about humanity.


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