Well, it’s that time of year again, another Friday the 13th is upon us and the internet is aglow with Jason gifs and the obligatory article defending Jason X. Today is not a holiday by any stretch of the imagination. No matter what your horror-aficionado friends tell you, there is no ticker tape parade for our favorite hockey themed murderer. There is no extra day off for postal workers, no sale at Hallmark and still no Blood-Red Velvet McFlurry at your local McDonalds restaurant in honor of the ultimate mama’s boy. But still, to this day, Jason Voorhees’s bloody campaign against horny teenagers has captured the hearts and minds of millions upon millions of people, both horror fan and non-horror fan alike.
Now, in all honesty, I can’t explain why people love the big lug. I can’t explain what it is exactly that people find appealing about Jason, and as much as you’d like it, I can’t tell you why you should like him. I can only explain how he appeals to me. Believe it or not, I am not a huge horror fan. I’m barley a casual horror fan. There are few horror franchises or one-off films that actually get me excited. I know that there are films that I’m just supposed to like because I am a mid-thirties male with glasses that sits behind a computer most days. I know that I’m supposed to like Aliens even though I really don’t care for it. I know that I am supposed to love gore in my horror films, even though I consider excess gore is little more that shock value. I know I’m supposed to buy every horror-themed Funko Pop figure from my local Hot Topic, but I haven’t and I don’t plan on it. And if I can be completely honest with you, I’m kind of a wimp, and scary stuff scares me, and I don’t like being scared. I remember loving horror films when I was younger, and perhaps as I’ve gotten older, and I’ve realized that one day I will cease to exist, being scared has lost its appeal.
So with my lack of horror being established, why do I love Jason Voorhees? Keep in mind, I don’t necessarily care about the Friday the 13th franchise, but seeing what and who Jason is as a character (yes, he actually has character) is instantly appealing to me. Always has been, always will be; and I believe that it’s because of his relatability.
The appeal to me is has to do with his upbringing. Jason, before the machete, was a deformed, mentally-ill child who was wholly dependent upon his mother, Pamela. He never interacted with other children (by his own decision or his mother’s, I do not know), and in fact he was bullied mercilessly thanks in no small part to his appearance. When I was growing up, I wasn’t bullied and I wasn’t deformed. But I did hear the term “ugly” used to describe my own appearance more than a few times. Now, I may be biased, but I don’t think I look like someone that lives under a bridge. I may never see my abs again, and I’ll never be one of People magazine’s sexiest men alive. But for a long time, I really used that term as a description of my self-worth.
Now as I grew up, I moved on and realized that words are only powerful if you let them be powerful. In fact, using words to form and express my opinion is how I want to make my living, a decision I made over a decade ago, and to what do I attribute this to? Mostly comic books tbh. But my own tenacity and discipline were, in a weird way, inspired by the Crystal Lake Slasher.
Jason is an unstoppable juggernaut of violence and rage that to this day hasn’t been matched by any horror movie villain. No I don’t care about blood and gore, I don’t care about the variety of kills, and I don’t even care about the required nudity found within every installment of the franchise. I don’t really care about the color shirt that Jason is wearing, I don’t care about the continuity of the damage upon Jason’s hockey mask and no, I don’t really care if Kane Hodder plays Jason in the next film. The whole point of Jason is the fact that he’s this force of nature that cannot be avoided. Yes, I know that Jason did seek revenge against his mother’s killer (spoilers), but after that, he really doesn’t do anything until someone comes into his backyard. My father always told me “Don’t start none, won’t be none.”; that’s Jason’s worldview. He has a strict moral compass that he is unyielding in upholding. Stay off his land, don’t drink or smoke, no premarital sex and never hurt children. Jason is a man of conviction and ingenuity. If it weren’t for all of the stabbing and mass murder, he’d be someone you could absolutely look up to.
So as you “celebrate” this Friday the 13th by watching your favorite F13 entry remember this, Jason is not the villain. Sure, he does things you wouldn’t do and handles situations in ways that you or I would not, but so does someone like Captain America. Trust me, if ten guys enter the same elevator as me and decide to kick my ass, I’m not walking out of there, and you probably wouldn’t either. While Jason might decide to punch off a few heads every now and then, I might not, but God do I love it when he does; and I’m willing to bet that you do too.
P.S. It’s okay if you like Part V and the 2009 reboot.
And finally, buy Friday the 13th The Game, it’s awesome.