Sensationalizing fear

"Fear for fun" attracts crowds

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Carter Puckett

Lauren Sabes ‘18: “It’s super fun. It’s a good opportunity to hang out with your friends and do something different and especially if you have a little sibling in the middle school it can be a lot of fun.”

Is a horror movie and popcorn your version of a great Saturday night? Do haunted houses make you excited and exhilarated? Do you follow @ClownSightings on Twitter? The these scary things excited a large group of people in creating a sense of fear and exhilaration. The idea of “fear for fun” stems from legitimate fears, but their attractiveness is more appealing than internalized, individual fear to most.

In recent news, killer clowns are consuming the media. In over two dozen states, clowns are coming out of the shadows to attack adults, students, and children. The craze originally started in late August in South Carolina where reports stated clowns were attempting to draw children into the woods with candy. From there the clown attacks have increased almost exponentially. In Alabama, currently 7 people face felony charges for terrorist threats with clown activity.

Josh Wilson ‘18: “It’s a great opportunity to connect with the community and also volunteer my time. All the funds go to charity so it’s a win-win situation for everyone.”
Carter Puckett
Josh Wilson ‘18: “It’s a great opportunity to connect with the community and also volunteer my time. All the funds go to charity so it’s a win-win situation for everyone.”

Even though the charges are very real, the sensation of scary clowns has taken off. Currently there is a very popular twitter account, @ClownSightings, tracking the supposed encounters. Students at Blake are terrified, being that recently, clown sightings have been popping up in Minnesota. Even though most of the clown encounters aren’t confirmed, likely made up, and a joke, people are going insane over it. The twitter account currently has over 350,000 followers. Even though we can rationalize its make believe components, why is it so popular?

Elie Oxford ‘19: “I like doing the haunted house because it’s fun to scare the kids.”
Carter Puckett
Elie Oxford ‘19: “I like doing the haunted house because it’s fun to scare the kids.”

If you like scary things, then you’re probably saying you like the feeling after you’ve been scared. Thrill-seeking releases the neurotransmitter, dopamine, which controls brain’s reward and pleasure areas. This is also similar to the release of adrenaline when your body reacts in a “fight or flight” manner. Margee Kerr, a psychologist specializing in fear, learned from extensive studies that for these fearful moments to be enjoyable, they must be in a safe space. For most people, fear is only fun when you can rationalize with it and know you’ll come out safe on the other side.

So does this satisfy the clown craze? When this kind of fear, that clowns, movies and haunted houses all have, is experienced, it makes fear a disingenuous emotion. But it’s enjoyable nonetheless. People are so fascinated by the clown twitter, for example, because they can watch the videos from the safety of their own home. Looking onto fearful situations while being able to rationalize our own safety is something that intrigues us as humans.

This is the same in horror movies. Seeing these scary movies in the same theater you saw Finding Dory in doesn’t seem very threatening. The jumpy feelings and scares just make it even more fun as your adrenaline builds. Horror movies can distract from a mundane life for people looking for a thrill.

Addison Anderson ‘19: “I like being in the haunted house because I enjoy acting. Doing the scaring and stuff is really fun. And it’s also a good time to hang out with and people and be involved with the middle schoolers who we don’t get to do a lot of activities with.”
Carter Puckett
Addison Anderson ‘19: “I like being in the haunted house because I enjoy acting. Doing the scaring and stuff is really fun. And it’s also a good time to hang out with and people and be involved with the middle schoolers who we don’t get to do a lot of activities with.”

Clowns and horror movies play the same role in changing things up in a boring daily life. The sense of relief and exhilaration is truly what makes scary things popular.