Did you stand in line for a midnight viewing of “The Blair Witch Project“? Does “Heeeeere’s Johnny!” evoke late-night nostalgia or hatchet-wielding terror? Clowns: for or against?
Horror movies are one of the few consumer goods that people buy specifically to feel anxious and scared — normally considered negative emotions. (See also: roller coasters.) No one would want to walk around feeling terrified all day, but the adrenaline spike of a good controlled scare can be exhilarating to someone with the right amygdala.
Still, one of the defining characteristics of scary movies (and roller coasters) is that many people don’t like them. Those people run a cost-benefit analysis — lots of thrills! but also lots of fear! — and don’t see a tradeoff worth making. Invite them out for the latest Jordan Peele movie and watch them nope-nope-nope their way home.
While the news on any given day is only metaphorically a horror show, many people treat headlines less as information than as scary stimuli. They’d rather not be regularly reminded of all that’s broken in the world, with all-new horrors added by the hour. They’ve got plenty of other stuff to do, so why spend time doing something that will make them anxious?