Halloween is just around the corner. Some people go all out for Halloween and it always amazes me. I took my niece and nephew trick-or-treating last year and there were some unbelievable houses with fabulous decorations. I love the creative and artistic part of Halloween. The time and effort that some people put into costumes and make-up is crazy. The only thing that bothers me is that it also has to be scary. I wish Halloween were more about spending time with family and remembering those that have died. Sadly, it seems to be more about watching people die.
It seems that more and more horror films are in theaters these days and in October, every channel has horror films playing too. Some scary and suspenseful movies can be really enjoyable, but they have to be done right. For example, Train to Busan and World War Z. Both are zombie movies that were tastefully done. I think for me, my biggest issue with scary movies is that they are risky to watch. They really aren’t for children! They should only be watched by adults that are fully aware of the consequence of watching them. I don’t think people realize how harmful horror films can be to someones psyche. The sad truth is that once you see something you can’t unsee it. The mental images can never be removed for your mind.
When I was only 5 years old I had a baby sitter that watched Pet Cemetery while watching me. I still remember scenes from that movie to this day and I have never watched the movie since. Those images stuck in my mind and will remain there forever. My mom said that that when she got home I was acting really weird. She said I was staring off into space and talking about odd things, so the next day she called the sitter and asked her what happened to me. Apparently, the baby sitter felt really bad and she apologized, but the sad truth is that her poor choice has left a lasting impact on me. My mom said that I was terrified for weeks. I remember being afraid to stand close to the bed after watching that movie. I used to run and jump up onto it so that nothing could get me from underneath. When you’re a child, you don’t understand the difference between make believe and reality. It all gets blurred together. Years after the Pet Cemetery thing, I was at a sleep over at friends house when I was in 3rd grade. She insisted that we watch Candyman. I still remember images from that movie as well. That night I ended up getting sick to my stomach during the movie and vomited. My mom had to come pick me up. As a child I would become physically sick when I watched something scary. I would have vomiting and diarrhea every single time. I’m aware that I had very extreme reactions to be scared, but the point is, I was exposed to these movies against my will and the consequence of me watching them was severe. There were several other occasions growing up where I was flipping through tv channels and saw something that I shouldn’t have or gave into peer pressure and watched a scary movie with friends. There has never been a time that I watched something scary and got anything good out of it.
I’ve heard a parent once say that they were going to make there children watch scary movies with them around Halloween to “toughen them up”. I have never heard anything more appalling! I don’t see how instilling fear in a child will “toughen them up”. If anything, it would be more likely to teach their children to fear things that are unrealistic to fear. I don’t see why parents aren’t trying to protect the innocence of their children. We only get to be kids once! They will be exposed to horrors in life as is without any provocation from their parents. To make things worse, scary movies are becoming more and more sick and twisted. Most of them leave the viewer with feelings of hopelessness, fear, and sadness. Thats the last thing this world needs right now. In the midst of a pandemic, we need hope.
There was a shooting recently at movie theatre where a man shot and killed several people during a showing of the Purge. None of the staff knew it was happening. Some of the victims may have lived if they weren’t left there, bleeding out. Even if a staff member had heard the gun shots, they would have thought nothing of it because they are so commonly heard in movies. It’s so sad.
I’m not saying that scary movies make people do bad things, but I do think there seems to be a correlation between input and output. It’s just like the expression, “You are what you eat”. Whatever we put into our brain will effect what comes out. If everything we see and hear is negative, we will feel negative and more and more negative will produced. The horrifying news leads to new scary movies inspired by the horrifying news. Even the writer of Jaws came to regret writing it because he realized how it encouraged fear of one of the most important creatures in the eco system. Fear is learned. The only fears that we are born with are fear of falling and loud noises.
I have a 6 month old and I will fight for her innocence forever. I will desperately try to prevent her from watching anything that might make her feel scared or unsafe. I don’t want her to be afraid of aliens, zombies, or murderers. I don’t want her to be afraid of the dark, or sharks, or under the bed. also don’t her to be a push over like I was. I want her to be able to stick up for herself and not give in to peer pressure. I wish I didn’t have to worry about how dark her future looks because of the direction of the media. I hope and pray for more happy endings and greater awareness for mental health.