Frost Mountain Picnic Massacre

Frost Mountain Picnic Massacre

Seth Fried

Fried claims that in large part his story is intended to be a critique of the Bush Administration and the Iraq War.

I’m not one to call out authors for their own intentions, but that’s an interpretation that I can only see now that I’ve read it in an interview with the author himself. The way that I read this piece was much more influenced by my personal history with conflict theory; conflict theory in short suggests that society is pushed foward through tensions between groups. In this case, the tension comes from a sense that the authority is so large that there’s no point in trying to fight back. It’s not even so much a case of widespread apathy so much as a sense that there’s literally nothing left to do.

The massacre in this story is literal, and repetitive. This town is plagued by a yearly fair that comes to town, kills residents (including children) and leaves again. A large portion of the winter is spent fighting against this ‘tradition’, only to have all those who have decided to stand against it mocked by its return the next year and their neighbors willingly walk into their own potential deaths.

The scene that stuck with me the most, in my nerd-fogged mind, is a discussion on the ways that parents interact with their children. The narration suggests that face painting is a pivotal part of childhood and those children who are not allowed to follow their peers will be shunned and bullied, potentially all the way through school. And as parents, that simply won’t do, parents can not simply turn their backs on trending just to prove a point- or even remove their children from a situation that they don’t even think is dangerous- they know full well that it is.

And that for me is the theme that I found most horrifying and interesting throughout the piece. While I can certainly see the parallels to the Iraq War (or any war, for that matter) it’s the sheer fact that we all do this. We all do it. We all act in the way that our in-groups want us to behave. It’s basic human social thought. Fighting a broken system is bad, it gets us in trouble, it angers our peers.

So only a handful of us do it, and most of us mourn that the system won’t change.

Yes. A horror short for the conflict theorist.


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