Cultural Horror and Creativity

Today I want to look at the interplay of cultural horror and creativity. This is possibly the most relevant of this series of posts. Many creators have written about the difficult they’ve had making things during this period of history. It can feel frivolous, or outright pointless. I get that. Climate change is killing the planet, authoritarianism is rising, terrorism seems to be the new normal, and I write games for a living. The fact that I’m not equipped to save the world only exacerbates the feeling of helplessness and dread.

Cultural Horror and Creativity

Creators are driven to create. I’ve only been a professional for a few years, but I’ve been writing since I was a kid. It goes beyond something that I enjoy doing. It’s something that I have to do. My wife Katie is the same way. If we don’t have time during the day, or at least during the week, to make art, we both suffer. Creativity is a coping mechanism, a means to de-stress in a world that’s clearly gone mad.

Creativity Through the Lens of Cultural Horror

The purveyors of atrocity and suffering don’t like creativity. They engage in enough of it themselves, through the propaganda they push and the outright lies they tell. This is why political cartoons and stand-up comedians are important in these times. They can speak truth to power by pointing out the absurdity of these monsters. Other artists capture and document the reality of these times, creating a record of what is happening.

Not all of us do that, though. Some of us just try to preserve hope. That really pisses the monsters off. They thrive on fear, and hate, and doubt. Creativity brings light to the darkness. It reminds us that love exists. When it can express an idea concisely, it can bring a clarity that eradicates some of our anxiety about the unknown. Why do you think they’re always trying to cut funding to the arts? What do you think is behind the notion that musicians, actors, and other creators with platforms shouldn’t express political opinions?

Cultural Horror Through the Lens of Creativity

We can weaponize creativity. I already touched on the two main ways to do this above. The first is to create art that makes a statement. Use our creativity as a way to speak truth to power. It can mean getting information and ideas out to people through a piece of fiction, a song, or a painting. We can show that their way is not the only way, and they certain outcomes are not inevitable. Document what’s going on, in whatever form you feel is the most impactful. Use your gifts to resist.

The other way is to aid others with essential self-care. For me, creating is essential to maintaining my mental health. To others, consuming creative works gives them the break they need from the incessant hammers of harsh reality. Watch a movie. Binge a TV show. Listen to music, read a book, go to a museum. Creativity matters. We are saving the world, with every single thing that we create. Because we’re not destroying. We’re not tearing things down. It doesn’t feel like much, but it adds up.

Join the Conversation


  1. Yes. This. Thank you for your clarity. We must resist the monsters. Now I’m retired I’ve turned to writing to exorcise my monsters both internal and external, but before that I’ve performed in community theater for many years as creative outlet to maintain sanity. Appropriately for our era of cultural horror, I begin rehearsal for “The Diary of Anne Frank” next month. Never forget!

  2. Thank you.

    When Individual 1 tweeted something superficial about Holocaust Remembrance Day, then minutes later put out another call to build a wall, it gave me chills. And so many people can’t see how one connects to the other.

    Break a leg on Anne Frank!

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