Why We Like Being Scared
So I just came back from a movie with my 22 year old brother. We watched "The Conjuring".
Now, hilariously enough, this movie terrified him.
The conjuring is about a real life husband-wife pair of "paranormal investigators" who trail the country investigating paranormal phenomena. This
movie is about a particular family whom the warrens claim was their most extreme case (it happened in 1973). I'll spare you the details.
Fact is, the people responsible for this production are scare scientists. How many people in the crowd are aware of this? How many people consider
that their nerves are being whet like pavlov's dogs?
Anyways, after the movie was done, my brother was quiet. I asked him "It was a good movie eh? scary" and he was like "yeah....it was ok", with an
obviously disturbed look on his face.
On the way home, I keep cracking jokes, exaggerating sounds, or I would just randomly scream at the top of my lungs - I was feeling this titillation
from the movie - while he gets angry and I laugh my ass off. When we actually got back to the house, he said "why is the light in the garage on?". I
laughed to myself thinking "his nerves have been pricked and conditioned at least 40 times during that movie. Now everywhere he looks somethings
seems to be awry". I said "the light was on when we left" - It actually was. I took a mental note of it when we left for the movie. But, he
insisted, in his irrational reverie "no, it was off, I
took a mental note of it". Funny how the mind can delude us, I think to myself.
When we get home, I sit him down, and I try to explain to this grown man why what he is experiencing is not only irrational and ridiculous, but
The movie is set in the 1970's - a particular amenable effect for a scary movie, as some of the best scary movies - exorcist, amityville horror,
entity - were made in the 1970s; So, I said, this provided a powerful effect. Next, from the very beginning, they kept hitting the audience with scary
scenes with small minute intervals in between. By the very end, I kid you not, I must have been startled 30-40 times. This of course requires that you
have a play along attitude; even if you're a skeptic, having a good scare can be fun.
Having loud scary sounds come at you while the scene in front of you builds up towards an anxious moment - you can't help but be moved to the edge of
your nerves in anticipation....
..Finally, your startled. It was a fun build up. But another part of you, despite the irrationality of it all, was
a bit scared.
This movie was created by a big hollywood firm. Yet, the movies main leitmotif is Christian theological beliefs. Despite the inanity of this position,
the audience is baited to play along, to take seriously whats being said. God, demons, possession, exorcism, talismans, astral bodies and vessels; the
producers expect that you waive your right to wonder whether these things actually exist; at the moment, they do.
By the end of the movie, a quote pops up at the top of the screen from the real Ed Warren. I can't remember it verbatim, but the gist was: God is
real, demons are real; the fairy tale is real. But it all comes from a more or less staunchly Christian perspective. As the end comes, the pictures of
the investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren and the Perron family (the family being haunted) pop up on the screen. The final effect to make what you just
saw feel more real.
After explaining this to my brother, he somewhat calmed down and understood the rationality of what I was saying. Still, he wanted me to wake him up
from off the couch when I plan on going upstairs. He's still scared
People like being scared. There is something about it that just makes life more interesting. Most of the time, we unconsciously succumb to the urge
because of the excitement and drama it'll elicit. We get carried away and lose awareness of the dull banal facts.
I'm not saying "hauntings" don't exist. They may well exist. But that is an altogether different question which should involve philosophical,
theological and scientific considerations. It's a "loaded" question that should not be simplistically accepted on the facts by themselves.
Questions like: what is the nature of reality? what does it mean? are implied. If demons exist - are they as powerful as depicted in movies like this,
or the exorcist etc? Is that plausible? And running down this train of thought, you will probably come to the conclusion: Love is the basis of
everything. I cannot see any demon possessing such strength over love. The universe expands; life flourishes. The world is full of infinite goodness.
But such thinking doesn't enter the minds of the mobs of people who see movies like this. As they leave, they discuss how scary it was - but in an
upbeat fun sort of way. Tonight, they'll probably have difficulty sleeping. But in two days, they'll forget all about it.