If there’s one thing that I’ve come to realize over the years is that fear is nothing. Nothing until it comes to understand its full potential. Fear can change you, but only if you let it. Fear can also defeat you. It can tie you up so tight that you can’t even move your arms or legs. It can make you feel as though there is no escape. It can make you into something you’re not. But it can also compel you to do incredible things. Things you would never have even thought of doing. Some people think that it’s better to not show fear. They think that by doing so the fear isn’t real. But not showing fear or pretending it isn’t real does not mean you’ve overcome it.
I come from a generation of desensitized children. We face more death, violence and cruelty than any other generation. It’s everywhere. It’s in everything. It’s right in front of our very eyes. I can’t even count the number of crime shows out there that deal with serial murderers, rapists, child abusers, etc. because there are simply too many. There are plenty of shows out there that basically state in the premise that “violence is the only answer”. They place us in a world that has become “kill or be killed”.
These are the things that we see each and every day. We witness a never ending cycle of murder, violence and abuse. But here’s the kicker. Most of these shows are supposed to depict real life. If that’s the case, then we live in an world that should be one of outright fear. If this is our reality, then it’s not very bright. Is there no light at the end of the tunnel? Or are we just waiting to be consumed by a flesh-eating-formerly-human-monster?
I’ve wondered what these shows are supposed to be teaching us. Are we supposed to be okay with gun violence? Racism? Sexism? Abuse? Murder? Sexual Assault? Or are we simply supposed to be afraid? I’ve been a fan of AMC’s The Walking Dead (created by Frank Darabont) since season 1 and that is one show that simply thrives off fear. Fear of death, dying, defeat, the dead and ultimately what is left of humanity and whether or not there is really anything human left. I’m aware that this show is not a complete depiction of real life and it’s not entirely like what the crime shows deal with. But the fear on that show is very real. No matter what world we’re living in, we fear the same things time and time again. It’s come to a point on the show (particularly this most recent season) that we’ve come to realize that the dead isn’t the only thing to be afraid of. Humanity is just as dangerous, if not more so. In a world without rules or laws, almost every single person is out for blood. Blood they have to spill in order to protect their own.
In the world of crime shows, we fear humanity above all else. The human race is constantly trying to save what has been destroyed. In many of these shows you come across a human being who thinks that killing is the only way to save the greater good. Unmask what is haunting us and we can overcome it. But what happens when we start being haunted by what we see?
A few weeks ago, I made a futile attempt to get into NBC’s Hannibal (created by Bryan Fuller). I got through to the first 5 minutes of season 1, episode 4 and I just could no longer stomach it. I tend to know when things will scare me, but I’m not always sure what. I have refused to watch any of the Hannibal films because I know I’ll be terrified and yet, I somehow thought I could handle the show. Thinking back on it, I wonder where my fear came from upon seeing two humans turned into angels. Was the decimation of another human being too disturbing to witness? Or was it witnessing what humanity is capable of what truly scared me? I’m not entirely sure. And yet, I still have the lingering feeling to go back and try again. To try and make it work.
That being said, why is it much easier for me to keep watching The Walking Dead while I struggle with the desire to watch Hannibal? Is it the idea that Hannibal takes places in the present world, where as The Walking Dead takes place in a possible future? Either way, both shows speak to one major question.
What’s truly more terrifying: the dead or humanity? Is it possible that once we find an answer to that question we’ll simply no longer be afraid?