Some Thanks To Give

With the holidays quickly being ushered in, far too fast behind the heels of Halloween, it nonetheless can make some feel nostalgic or sentimental. My co-editor, Kieran, suggested someone write a piece about being thankful for the site in general and I opted in for that. 

The world in general, particularly in the age of the internet, can be a bleak place. Sometimes it feels like every time I look at my phone I read about a natural disaster, a tragedy, a social injustice. It's a never-ending stream of bummers. These are things I need to care about, we as people need to care about, because we need to be there for each other. We need to be better and we need to be the bigger person in these moments and look past certain differences to come to terms with the fact that we are in fact all humans and we need to be there for each other. (Except nazis. Fuck nazis.)

A little over a year ago, this stream of negativity finally broke down my seemingly endless supply of positivity and I fell into a deep depression. I'm talking didn't want to eat, only wanted to sleep, could not stop obsessing over the fact that death was looming somewhere in the future for all of us. Strangely enough, horror movies are what drew me out of that depression. (Well, that and the loving care of my wonderful wife. And professional wrestling.) I started listening to a podcast called Shock Waves, which you can find here, and these four hosts were so stoked on film and genuinely excited about my favorite genre: horror. So I opted to try something that had been missing. I created a group for the fans of the show to talk about movies, genre films specifically. Listening to this podcast about these people who wanted to talk in detail about things I love was a dim light in the dark abyss that had become my everyday reality. Over time, the group grew and I did my best to make it something different. Using the same outset of optimism that the hosts were known for, searching in the bad for even one piece of good, I looked to create a "safe space" of sorts for horror fans. Somewhere where we could academically look at film and try to "raise the spirits of horror. (As our writer Jacob Trussell so decadently declares.) 

Yes, some speed bumps have been had but overall it's been a success. With nearly five thousand members, the group is an actively upbeat community that is not just set on having fun with horror but with recognizing and championing social progression that is so often seen throughout the genres oeuvre. Few things remind you of hope and goodness as much as thousands of monster movie fanatics celebrating the successful message portrayed in Get Out.

Over the course of a year, a few of these "horror movie club" members and I started chatting separately, at first a few times a week and over time it became daily. These were people I gravitated to for numerous reasons but mostly because I could tell that they wanted what I wanted: they wanted to get stoked about horror, share that love, and do whatever they could to help certain issues get addressed and noticed. Eventually, after months of teasing the idea, we created Ghastly Grinning. Me and a bunch of other weirdoes on the internet, most of whom have never met in person, set out to make a socially relevant, progressively powered, optimistic horror media hub. And it's been great.

And that's us. That's Ghastly Grinning. I love these people that I get the pleasure to work with because they love the genre in all the same ways I do and in completely different ways as well. We teach each other something new everyday, we keep each other strong, we look for ways that we can help (even if it's in the most infinitesimal of ways) to not just bring genre news to the public but to maybe brighten their day. Maybe be a place where they know they can go and won't see anything that is jaded or harmfully critical or pessimistically tinged clickbait. This is a place where we are exploring the genre and looking for the progress, pushing it, expanding it. Where we want more female directors, more minority representation in film, more LBGTQ characters. And if you don't like it? Then this isn't the place for you. And it never will be. I'm thankful for that. I'm thankful that Kieran loves the most ridiculous movies in existence, that Ian is obsessed with giallo, that Jacob is a master with words in ways that I only wish I could be, that Dick is a hawk with news and somehow finds stories that weren't on anybody else's radar. I'm thankful that Megan plays every horror board game that comes out, that Michelle wants to write literal love letters to films, that Rachael has one of the most varied and balanced tastes in movies that I've ever seen. I'm thankful that people like Kayleen and Bee and Ryan and Nat and Brennan want to take time out of their already busy lives to give us and the world a chance to see things from their perspective. I'm thankful for this weird, insane, crazy little corner of the internet where I'm surrounded by people who want to do these things, love this genre, celebrate horror. We are here to make horror happy and we're damn sure going to do it.

I'm thankful for you all, more than you know, everyday. 

Ryan Larson