Thursday, July 01, 2010

Living in the Absence of Fictional Fear

I'm dreadfully afraid of a lot of things in real life... things which are stupid in the cold light of day, so much so that I won't even admit to some of them publicly. But when it comes to the media, well, I am not really scared by anything that is presented in fiction. I am not talking about the cheap shock scares mind you, but those visceral horror experiences a lot of people talk about when they discuss the genre.

My sister thinks it is sort of sad that I can watch a horror movie or play a survival horror game and not get frightened. In the games, I sometimes have tension because I don't want my character to die because I don't want to have to redo whatever I am working on, but other than that, nothing really fazes me.

But I've always been like this. I remember watching Poltergeist as a child and my sister got freaked out by it, but I didn't. And I watched a lot of other horror movies when I was a child and they didn't freak me out. I understand why something should scare me, but it doesn't.

I mean, if I've learned anything from the movies, you can destroy almost anything scary if you have enough firepower, are willing to fight dirty (clowns have testicles for a reason), and play things smart.

I think the only theme that consistently puts me on edge in a movie is isolation. For instance, The Thing wouldn't really work for me if it didn't take place in Antarctica. If it took place in a city, it would just lose all its horror to me. But I am afraid of isolation in general, so The Thing or whatever is out there is the gravy on such a scenario.

Honestly, when it comes to the depiction of violent and gruesome death and terror on screen, I am almost completely able to divorce myself from those events. Some would call that being desensitized, but that is certainly not the case. If anything even remotely resembling the events of a horror movie or thriller was happening around me in real life, then yes, I would indeed be afraid. But outside of that... good luck freaking me out.

Put it this way, I am more afraid of being stuck on a plane on the runway for hours and not being able to go to the washroom than I am of being killed or injured in a plane crash.... because one of those things is much more likely to happen to me. By the same token, I am more afraid of getting into a confrontation on the street with someone than I am of someone systematically killing everyone in my neighborhood or an alien laying eggs down my throat and then having the offspring of that unfortunate incident emerge from gut during a pleasant post-hospitalization dinner.

I am not going to be eaten by raptors, zombies or be attacked by gremlins. I could be attacked by a rabid dog, so that one is well played.

Additionally, I am probably more likely to get struck by lightning after winning a decent prize in the lottery than I am of getting killed or injured in a terrorist attack, and I know that. And in the movies and television, they have so many badasses fighting it, again, it doesn't play on my anxieties.

It is all a matter of perspective. I guess with all the fear I have in my regular life, I don't really have any left for fiction.


Pat Tillett said...

I'm the same way about a lot of things. I don't worry about things I can't control and I'm not afraid of things that don't exist.
My granddaughter was amazed that I could watch a horror movie late at night with the sliding glass door open behind me....
On the other hand, I'm petfified if I have to touch a bathroom doorknob....

Megan said...

A very interesting post. Of course, it's different for girls, because of the size and strength differential thing. Although that has never been true for me because of my height, but I get it.

That's why we tend to travel in packs, you know...

Lee Sargent said...

I'm the opposite.

I have planks of wood downstairs in case of the zombie apocalypse.

Of course I will not be finishing the games Bioshock and Fallout 3 has me nervous either.

Mayren said...

i think our gen. was raised to rightfully put media into perspective when it comes to fear. I only fear stuff that could actually happen. In media the shock value for me is stuff that is more realistically possible.

When in doubt tho - I have a handy dandy Zombie escape plan and know how to use my crowbar (giggles)

MC said...

Pat: See, that's what I mean... realistic fears instead of these nebulous media-created ones.

Megan: I am sort of wimpy in real life... so size doesn't always matter.

Lee: I almost name checked you in this post.

Mayren: Do you follow the Zombieland rules too?

Lee Sargent said...

That's fair enough :D

I just get way too caught up in the mood of the game. Which I guess is good on one hand because you really feel the game.

Movies don't tend to worry me though.