Meat Market: Selling horror, one tasty corpse at a time
I’m not so much a horror guy. Sure, I’ve seen the odd slasher film or two (and to be fair, as gross as Saw was, it was pretty sharp too. (Get it? Sharp? Saw? Oh man, I am so totally lame....) Anyway, I’m just not that guy. Drippy, hanging gore and gross-out effects and all that kind of awful stuff hold no baseline appeal for me. It’s not even that it’s scary so much as it’s disturbing and personally I see no reason to willingly let those sorts of images enter my head in the first place. You can’t unsee things and the popular world is already pretty adept at jamming horrible images inside my brain (see Honey Boo Boo, family of and Barr, Roseanne - Presidential Run). Yeah, once it’s in there, it’s in there for good.
But I must be in the minority because all things horror and gore seem to be selling in a big way these days. Movies, video games and all manner of consumer products. It’s kind of nuts really. I mean I get the whole notion of monetizing, well....everything but that there exists so many people who truly want no more from life than the ability to sit alone in their basement and blow away oozing zombies and decapitated life-suckers in ever-increasing versions of hyper-reality sort of freaks me out. What if the electricity ever really went out for good? Would these people transition from the sick fantasyland they inhabit well enough to mix in human society or would non-killers like me be dead meat? You can’t spend weeks at a time subsisting on rice crackers and grape Fanta while disemboweling mutants and expect to slide into a job at TGIFridays. But maybe you can. That would explain the state of the appetizers we got the other night.....
Anyway, the Resident evil franchise (known in Japan as Biohazard) is a media sensation controlled by the Capcom video game company. Created by game legend Shinji Mikami as a survival/horror game series in 1996 the series has branched out to into a full-blown action game that has sold 50 million units as of June 2012. That’s crazy. And they have expanded into comic books, novels and even novelizations. They do sound dramas, a live-action series and animated feature films. They even do action figures, which really blows my mind, ‘cause every workplace desk so needs a statue of some grotesque and twisted freak displaying a severed head dripping realistic entrails. And yet I can’t get a majority to support my idea of “no-pants” day – sheesh!
Even the films – horror films based on the Resident Evil video games – have gone on to make a combined total of nearly $1 billion dollars worldwide. There is apparently big money to be made in such gruesome entertainment.
Now I would never have even known about all this if not for a most bizarre promotional stunt cooked (butchered?) up by the Resident Evil folks. To hype their latest game release, Capcom transformed London, specifically England’s Smithfield Meat Market, into a human meat market. No, I’m not kidding. They had actual butchers at the market form animal meat into meat products that looked exactly like human body parts. The photos and video from the spectacle are truly disturbing. I mean, just the idea of such a thing is almost vomit-inducing but to behold it – in the flesh, for real – as you walk unprepared through an actual meat market is disgusting. Hands, arms, heads and all manner of horror-film flotsam displayed like beef or venison waiting to be cooked in some made-up horror of a meat market. Yuck!
Now just to show they’re not total monsters (and maybe to head off any law-suits or accusations of being twisted deviants) the company proclaimed that all proceeds from the sales of their fake body parts would go to help the Limbless Association, a non-profit that helps folks that have lost their limbs. Whatever the truth behind the circumstance the idea certainly worked. They got loads of attention and plenty of free press, which in this game is kind of the point.
But does something like this ever draw new customers or just encourage the same weirdos already in camp? How many new folks are seeing this setup and going “Hey, you know what? I really DO want to get into online zombie hunting. All this fake but bloody carnage surrounding hyper-realistic dead people parts seems fun!” Ah, no I don’t think so. In fact, if I had’ve been walking through that meat market I might even have taken a full left-turn into some form of vegetarianism after beholding a morbid mess like that. I mean, I love meat and all but at what point does a rather sick digital fantasy begin to dovetail into something far too realistic to be taken as a joke any longer? I don’t know myself but I think I’m gonna be sticking to bread and cheese for the next while or so, just in case.