Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Scariest Holiday

That’s what a friend of mine called Halloween. I never really thought of it that way but I can see where he’s coming from. Halloween is a time when all things scary are celebrated. They come out with new horror movies every October (the “SAW” series is well known, now it seems like “Paranormal Activity” is becoming a regular event.) There’s blood spatters in decorated windows, severed body parts laid out on tables and fake blood sold in every store. Haunted houses where people pay to have the crap scared out of them pop up everywhere.

I personally love all these darker aspects of the holiday but I can see where other people might not, and thus why it’s not more common for people to love Halloween. For example, I have friends who genuinely hate being scared. They avoid horror movies like the plague, make upset noises if you point out a macabre scene, and recount frightening experiences as traumatic events.

Fear is a pretty physical experience. The adrenaline, the tensed muscles, the hyperventilation, the cold sweat. We talk about it a lot in psychology as something to be limited or eliminated. So why would anyone choose to experience it?

For me, it’s enjoyable. Because I don’t live my life in a state of constant fear being scared is out of the ordinary. It’s something I consciously choose to do based on expectations. And the choice makes it fun. If I couldn’t control it- like if I had non-stop nightmares after seeing a horror movie like some of my friends do- I’m sure I wouldn’t enjoy it either.

I assume that if I was witness to a whole bunch of gruesome murders at the hands of some psycho serial killer in a hockey mask I wouldn’t want to go watch a movie about it. But my life is pretty stable so stuff like that is no more than idea- a fantasy. And that’s why it’s fun.

Plus, as my boyfriend must constantly remind me, zombies aren’t real. Nor are vampires, monsters, space aliens, Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers or Freddie Kruger. (Which isn’t to say that if I went walking in the woods and stumbled into an abandoned cabin with a sign reading “Camp Crystal Lake” I would hang around, but you know what I’m saying.) All these fantastical things need a home. And that home is the scariest holiday.

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