Does Enjoying Scary Movies Mean I’m Disturbed?

With the recent passing of Halloween a very familiar argument arose in my home. It happens every year around this holiday, especially with the television programming going ballistic on showing every scary movie ever made two weeks prior to and on Halloween. You see, I grew up watching scary movies from the time I was a teenager, whether it was with my family or friends. We looked forward to the Halloween season especially when the newest scary movies would come to the theaters. My high school friends and I would bombard the theater on a Friday night and wait in a huge line to see such classics as Halloween or Friday the 13th. It was great fun to be in a group of people, clutching the person next to you and all jumping at once at every surprise the movie had to offer. I saw no harm in that back then, and I don’t now. Unfortunately, my husband would beg to differ.

My very sweet, very loving husband grew up watching nothing but sports. He played sports from his little league days all the way up through high school and watched them on T.V. when he wasn’t playing them. When a good majority of kids were reading the comics he was reading the sports page. He continues now to watch mostly sports on television if given the time to do so, especially during football season. If there isn’t a sporting event on that he wants to see, he tunes in to ESPN to see what might be coming on soon or the scores of games that have already been played. I have no problem with any of this at all. That is how my husband was raised and that is part of who he is. I respect that, even if I don’t share his passion for it all the time. I am what you might call a casual sports enthusiast. I have a favorite NBA team, a favorite college basketball team, and a couple of baseball teams I enjoy watching. Aside from that, I could take or leave sports. Nevertheless, I know my husband enjoys it and when he isn’t working he has full remote control to watch whatever sports-related program he wishes. With that in mind, I would think that my love of horror flicks would be equally respected. I’m sure you can guess where I’m going with this.

It has always been my husband’s opinion that watching horror movies can warp your mind, maybe even cause a person to become a bit deranged or worse. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure you can probably interview some notorious serial killers and find that they have watched many of the classic scary movies of their time. No argument there. I’m sure they have also watched Bambi and gotten an eerie smile on their face the moment Bambi’s mother gets shot by the hunter. You see, I don’t believe that a person necessarily becomes psychotic from watching something horrifying; I believe they are psychotic because they already want to be the one doing the horrifying acts.

This Halloween season on cable a certain channel did a countdown show of the top 100 scary movies of all time. Naturally I taped every hour episode and discovered I had seen a good majority of these movies; not all of them but a good number. If my husband’s theory were true then I’d venture to say I’d have been a psycho killer many years by now and I can assure you this isn’t the case. Really, I swear, I’m innocent. I’m a very docile mother of two growing children who sits at home, reading and writing. Pretty harmless I’d say. After twenty years of marriage I’ve given up trying to convince my other half that watching scary movies is harmless and I realize that we may never agree on this topic. That would be okay with me, if only the children could get off so easily.

Here is where things get a bit sticky. I have a son in high school and a daughter in middle school. They both love their father dearly, but neither of them has inherited his love of sports. My son likes to play basketball for fun and recreation, but not competitively. My daughter was in cheerleading until an injury put her on the sidelines. Other than that, they are both very artistic and enjoy writing, music and movies. My son has aspirations of becoming a writer, in particular the next Stephen King. Mr. King was actually my inspiration to watch scary movies when I was a teenager as I started reading some of his short story collections. I find reading Stephen King much like riding an emotional roller coaster and I love every minute of it. A couple of years ago my son picked up one of my King novels that I had recently finished and read it in two days. He’s been hooked ever since and has read 25 of his novels in two years, some of them three times. I am very happy that he has such a love of reading and writing because I think both will take him very far in life, regardless of his profession. My daughter has a love for drama, music and writing. You might say it’s in their blood……(evil laugh ensuing).

The above is what usually starts the repeat “discussion” every October. My husband has long since realized that I am going to watch horror movies and read Stephen King whether he enjoys it or not. With our children being ages 12 and 15 he has stopped forbidding them to watch them also; however, it always stirs up the same old controversy. He thinks that watching such things can warp their minds and perhaps make them, for lack of a better word, disturbed. Mind you, when we go out as a family we have complete strangers come up to us and tell us what wonderful children we have. They are kind, considerate, respectful of others (especially adults) and are never disruptive. To me, they are just being their everyday selves. I have wonderful kids who get exceptional grades and wouldn’t hurt a fly. We are very close and have a great time together and they have a great time with their dad also. So what’s the problem? They know the difference between fantasy and reality, right and wrong, etc. I draw the line at letting them watch anything truly disturbing or beyond their understanding at their age level. I have more of a problem letting them watch anything sexually explicit or strongly suggestive (which there is more of on regular T.V. and cable than anything else these days). Even with all this, my husband still feels the need to tell me that they should watch movies that have more of a positive message. Okay, I have no problem with a variety of movies or shows. But I hold true to my position that horror movies don’t kill people; people kill people.

I am fully aware that there are two very distinct sides to this fence, which is why I decided to write this article. I’d truly like to hear comments from both sides on this topic. What do you think readers? I’m all ears (and no, I’m not keeping them in a jar in my basement).

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