Dec. 10, 1997: Stephen King: People Are Violent

Suspense writer talks about the "vicarious feeling of getting scared."
8:09 | 12/09/11

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Transcript for Dec. 10, 1997: Stephen King: People Are Violent
Joining us now from our bureau in Miami novelist Stephen King -- king your books have certainly -- am incredibly popular. You've heard this discussion. In Jeff Green feels pieces. About all of the meaning usefulness in this are we reading too much into this if you for just having fun reading your books. Yeah I think. You probably are reading a little bit too much into it keeping in mind that. The American people have always been violent. At at the core. H. -- Brown said the Americans. The American way is violence is American as cherry pie and was probably right about that. We're also. People have been driven not by guilt puritan guilt Christian -- And the two things together I don't want to over analyze it but we like to be scared we like to pretend. We I can legally. But haven't children lights to be scared from time out of mind and mean the Brothers Grimm and hands Christian Andersen did a pretty good job of scaring him. Chair and the and Harry editors. The Brothers Grimm -- -- Christian Andersen -- people like. Our else died you know -- -- me that. One of the most one of the big surprise successes. If the movies this fall was the -- follows I know what you did. Which is really. -- fear street book or -- goosebumps book. Raced to a slightly scarier level -- -- jump from PG thirteen. It seems to -- that right now it's Generation Y. that's driving. The appetite for skiers in the country. It's always been Generation Y. meaning the children of Generation X. not necessarily the children -- generation it under my younger Brothers and sisters have. Generation next its. Being scared for finding something that's always appealed to young people it's not much different -- the roller coaster thing or you know the loop the loop thing. -- -- that the movie theater where you can get dark -- -- on your girlfriend your boyfriend and he enjoyed being scared enjoy that vicarious feeling and it is vicarious because when you're seventeen you think you're gonna live forever. But -- it. Hasn't increased publishers tell me -- that the number of books. That are scary books are books that are gothic. Have increase in and then -- that -- publishing. Well the amount rises and falls a little -- this is one John -- it's been pretty constant all through. American literature going back to the penny dreadful. The first movie ever made Thomas Edison. Made -- version of Frankenstein so this is always been with us. But right now in America when things are fairly quiet when people feel fairly confident. We live in a kind of era of good feeling where crime is down. We feel a little more freedom I think to explore our dark side because. It's not so much with it can -- of sort of interesting. In World War II the universal monsters like Frankenstein wolfman Dracula all disappear there was enough real life horror. And then after. World War II is over you see the -- start to come out of there dark holes again. And that the biggest monster them all was god Zelaya from Japan and he was caused by nuclear radiation so. You have a case of the first nuclear monster originating from the only people in the history of the world whoever had to face the atomic bomb. In a real life situation so we see entertainment but we also see. Always -- working out of the real fears that are immunity. But now -- -- Jeff. Brought up this question of the the kinds of news that people -- -- the OJ Simpson trial of the Jonbenet Ramsey case the nanny trials -- Versace murder. These things are these things plane into that fear these not big enough villains to put the fear away as World War II lives. I don't think so I think. That the tabloid press and it to a large extent as well the mainstream press driven by -- need for ratings in the newspapers driven by need to keep up. In terms of sales and advertising box with the TV the big Brothers. That they've kind of stroke a prurient interests that we we we all have. In celebrity journalism in celebrity scandal but -- this goes back a long time. To the time of fatty are buckle who supposedly killed and raped his girlfriend. But that wasn't covered in the street -- the way the DOJ thing was I think that. There their different things entirely. One is make believe in and in essence I think a movie like I know what you did last summer or screen. He's probably a lot more healthy for the psyche than a steady diet of the OJ Simpson trial or whether or not in -- really did -- to -- -- to death. Now that seemed to also be at the same time the -- like viewers are tremendously popular. There also all of these books that are aimed at healthy psyche. Chicken soup for the soul chicken soup for the woman's soul chicken soup for the teenage soul you know -- just sell and sell and sell and sell. Do you see a contradiction there are different people buying these books are the same people buying -- I don't think the same people are buying both I don't actually think there's much overlap between readers -- chicken soup for the soul and people who go to C a nightmare on elm street maybe I'm wrong about that but I really don't think they're the same people at all. I do things that to a large extent. Both of them are. Fictions in which we allow ourselves to believe for a little while we like the bad dreams because when we know we wake up everything is going to be all right. We like to good dreams about how in the faithful dog always comes back home and mother and children are reunited. Not because it really happens in real life but because so often it doesn't we like to have hope but we need to balance it out. And you know. All the scary things nothing is scary -- -- you have that backdrop of positive emotions to put it against. Unless you can love somebody you can't be afraid you just cannot do it because you become a sociopath and with a total flat line emotional structure. That is another theory that as the millennium approaches that there will be more and more. This interest and the gothic the -- cult. And in. And also on the undecided -- in angels and -- of that do you do you subscribe to that theory well. Nothing really matters because when the millennium comes the world is gonna -- the -- the but so there are Natalie I mean that's just the end of everything the universe is gonna crack open. I don't know. I've read stories that suggested to his -- big opera show of of interesting things supernatural. When. The last century that would be the nineteenth century right you know. When when that ended in the twentieth century came in there was some of this what we -- now I think his a fair amount of new age -- you know chicken soup for the new age -- And in running in tandem with that you do see some disturbing. New wage gone bad. Things like that people who while committed suicide in California because they believe that they were gonna get. -- you know I mean like hello who's there. But on the whole I think it's I think it's overrated I think for most of us as long as the computers don't freeze with a zero effect it's just going to be another year so regularly can blame the millennium president is likely blaming -- -- for everything these days is right if you want him. Blame something blame prosperity. Coupled with a deep American sense that things this good must turn bad sooner or later the OK thank you very much for being mrs. Steven king.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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