The Protective Value of Fear

5 May 2017

The Protective Value of Fear Have you ever watched something that happens on a screen, yet still it feels real? Imagine feeling scared out of your mind or pumped up by something that is not really happening. Images and sounds can make your heart rate increase, your palms wet, your muscles tighten, and the hair on your arms rise. How healthy can it really be? Suspension of disbelief is the phenomenon, which makes it possible to believe a premise you would never accept in the real world. This is a semi-conscious decision in which you put aside your disbelief and accept the premise as being real for the uration of the story’ (MediaCollege). This phenomenon creates a virtual experience built upon on fantasy and illusion, which is the central theme of our discussion. There are consequences in real life. If you commit a crime the most likely consequence is either Jail or a ticket. Furthermore, if you get caught cheating on a test you may be put on academic probation.

However, if you have ever seen the Saw movies or played certain video games, which depict the murder of women and children and a general callousness towards the loss of life, you have probably noticed hat there are rarely repurcussions to these actions in games and movies. The horror novelist, Stephen King explains the appeal of watching scary movies and playing violent video games through the safety valve theory of catharsis. King assumes that all humans demonstrate cruel and aggressive impulses occasionally.

The Protective Value of Fear Essay Example

In order for people to express and unleash these natural impulses in a controlled and safe environment, they engage in these types of entertainment, which enables them to forestall their needs to act it out in real life. King refers to it as the “safety valve” heory of catharsis, implying that there is a process of cleansing, which occurs when people allow themselves to utilize this outlet, thereby controlling urges that are deemed socially unacceptable. On the other hand, there is the theory of desensitization, which defies and challenges King’s “safety valve” theory of catharsis.

Desensitization is a serious matter, which in this case refers to violent media content and can be compared to the building of tolerance in the face of addiction. When an addict consumes copious amounts of alcohol, they will subsequently need more of he substance to achieve the same effect. The same phenomenon is true of violent media and desensitization. Consuming a heavy diet of violent media is certain to affect people, who in turn will feel less provoked and shocked each time.

As a consequence to experiencing the violence on a regular basis our reaction becomes less pronounced. Violence repeated, in the media, will draw people towards the ferocity of violence. If I took my grandfather, who was born in 1932, to watch a horror movie that was produced recently, I’m certain that he would be shocked at the ontent in films these days. Since the day “media” was born we have witnessed one pattern, which is that boundaries have been pushed further and further.

In King’s article, “My Creature from the Black Lagoon,” he describes how terribly frightening and appropriate his reaction was to the film. I was cynical when I recently viewed this movie, in part because it is possible to see the zipper running down the monster’s back. I agree with King’s assertion that disbelief is not light and that perhaps my muscles ot imagination nave also “grown wear as ne explains in his article. For example, a recent film, “Paranormal Activity’ attempts to push the boundaries even further by implying that the storyline is based on true events.

This and other recent films in the horror genre are proof that the desensitization theory may be very real as filmmakers attempt to move beyond thrillers into the realm of the supernatural. While desensitization may be a relevant concept, I believe that King’s “safety valve” theory of catharsis is correct because children do exhibit a natural capacity for sadness, fear and violence and it is within this comfort zone that emories are created. In an experiment college students were shown a violent film for several night in a row.

The next day while taking a simple test, the research assistant treated them rudely. Apparently the students who had watched the violent movie choose a harsher punishment for the assistant, than the other students who had been watching nonviolent movies. Clearly media has a greater impact than we might realize. Even King indirectly admits that kids are vulnerable to such: “In this sense, kids are the perfect audience for horror. The paradox is this: Children, who are hysically quite weak, lift the weight of unbelief with ease”.

King makes a good point, but because personalities vary, it is a risk you take when you expose your young child to such images even if you believe that they are able to process it better because of their expansive imagination. King explains that the purpose ofa good horror film is to “knock the adult props out from under us and tumble us back down the slide into childhood. ” Therefore, King uses the “safety valve” theory of catharsis to propose that scary films serve a therapeutic purpose. King believes that fear is a natural, healthy phenomenon.

He states, “Children are literally afraid of their own shadows at the right time and place. ” However, King also points out that children are able to manage their fear and use their imagination in order to protect themselves from true dysfunction. King explains that children use “selective forgetting” which forms the basis of both nostalgia and childhood fears. Adults look back upon these childhood experiences with fond memories, even of the most fear inducing moments and desire hat lost feeling because they feel protected and threatened all at once.

One example provided by King states that “It is the parents, of course, who continue to underwrite the Disney procedure of release and rerelease, often discovering goosebumps on their own arms as they rediscover what terrified them as children. ” Therefore, the “safety valve” of catharsis theory provides that this is a safe way to experience fear and, in fact, positive memories ensue as adults. In conclusion, I believe that the theory of desensitization and the “safety valve” theory of catharsis are not mutually xclusive and one is not necessarily more “correct” than the other.

However one enables us to understand how an individual processes stimuli that may be overly threatening or difficult to comprehend and another refers to how people may internalize stimuli, have a visceral reaction and thus crave more. T he safety valve theory of catharsis implies a measure of control, which I believe King agrees with wholeheartedly. He feels that even children, who may feel powerless in so many aspects of their life feel safe because they realize that they can let their imaginations un wild albeit in a safe way.

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