Hell on Wheels 2011 thoughts


Genre pieces seem to have a bad reputation in our society as being frivolous or without a certain amount of artistic merit. The general consensus being that instead of enlightening people about the human condition genre pieces such as westerns are solely intended to provide an escape from the daily grind (as if providing that comfort to a mass amount of people is without merit).

I currently intern at a publishing house and was speaking to one of the editor’s about genre fiction and how recently many critics have attacked Sci-fi novels that have attempted to transcend the line into literary fiction. Many critics have ruthlessly disparaged these novels siting that sci-fi and fantasy are merely outlets for the neanderthals in our society to get a good dose of gore and blood-lust. I vehemently disagree. In my opinions genre pieces provide so much more than that as a window into a time or places that we will never be able to fully experience in our own lives.

However, the scene of Mr. Bell’s scalping makes me pause and question how important these hedonistic themes are in genre narratives (whether it be gore in a western or sex in a romance). In my opinion(and this may be the bias of a squeamish stomach), the scalping added nothing to the pilot in aesthetic appeal or plot development and to my chagrin I noted a fair amount of overtly violent instances in the pilot. Is that what the avid genre fan looks for in a pilot? Is there some truth to what the sci-fi critics have said? It seems to me that AMC might think so because the pilot seemed to rely heavily on the shock factor of spurting blood.


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