I do. And it’s all because of one movie. IT. This movie, even though excellent entertainment on some dark level, scarred me for life. It haunted my nightmares for years growing up, causing me to stop attending the circus forever. The whole idea of colourful balloons and a smiling clown bringing cheer and happiness, changed in a milli-second when Tim Curry smiled and displayed rows of sharp pointy teeth hiding behind red lips and a white face. Clowns could never recover from It. (See what I did there?)
When he smiled the audience gasped, as we realised he was actually some twisted alien being, preying on little children. How could you get back from that? I only have one question: Why Stephen King? Why did you have to take an innocent childhood figure and ruin it for me and countless other children growing up in the eighties and early nineties? Damn you.
But he is not the only one. No, we are not that lucky. There is a whole array of authors, screenwriters and directors distorting innocent, everyday things. My favourite filmmaker did it too. Ok, sharks might not be innocent, but before Jaws, sharks was just fish minding their own business swimming, swimming and feeding on an unfortunate seal or other mammal. But then Steven Spielberg decided to give the fish a soul, albeit a twisted one, the soul of a mindless killing machine, hunting humans. A Hannibal Lecter with fins. Steven decided that people should “Be afraid to go in the water.” And then to add insult to injury you have the sick John Williams score, and countless beach holidays were ruined forever. That theme plays in my head every time I go into the ocean for a swim. This movie did more damage to shark-conservation than all the combined shark fin soup restaurants in Asia. Now, thanks to Steven, if anything touches my leg in open water, I shriek like a little girl, my kids cannot go deeper than waist high water and I will never be the furthest person out at sea.
Several moments in motion picture history have changed our perceptions of arbitrary things. Things that are not suppose to bother us at all, but suddenly seem ominous and freaky. I mean has anyone had pea soup for dinner since seeing the Exorcist? Has anyone dared saying “Candyman” three times in front of a mirror? And who was stupid enough to watch the Ring video clip on the bonus feature of the DVD? Is there anyone who doesn’t flinch when seeing a jagged saw lying in the garage, unconsciously thinking about your ankle. And don’t get me started on twins dressed in the same outfit, standing at the end of a hallway or a labyrinth of snow.
I understand it remains our choice when exposing ourselves to these moments, these scenes that will forever be imprinted, haunting our dreams. There are age restrictions and these kind of movies are stocked in a very specific section of the DVD rental shop. So there is no excuses. The trick is that most of these scenes catch you off guard, they are totally unexpected, creeping up on you from behind. Like a tree and a girl? Who knew, and this implies that Sam Riami are not well. (Proven again by the weird emo dance scene in Spiderman 3.) The reality of specific scenes in scary movies results in me refusing certain aspects of modern living, like eye surgery. How can I even consider this, after seeing the laser eye surgery from hell in Final Destination 5? Or was it 6?
So the question remains: Why do I watch it? Because I am twisted and sick and human and I like to be entertained. It’s my own version of bungee jumps, my Everest climb, my speed racing, my free-diving.
But the bottom line remains, I hate clowns, but don’t blame me, it was Stephen King. He raped my mind first. And I loved it.