Columns & Blogs

Scary shows help us face fears

Kelvin De’Marcus Allen.
Kelvin De’Marcus Allen. jleonard@newsobserver.com

Is it my imagination or are zombie and horror-themed television shows dominating the airwaves?

“The Walking Dead,” “Z Nation,” “American Horror Story,” “Grimm” and “Super Natural,” just to name a few. And, if they’re not gruesome enough to curdle your blood or frighten you half to death, there’s always a rerun of some horror flick that’s on one channel or another.

Don’t get me wrong; as a kid who grew up in the ’60s and ’70s, I often only had access to three television channels with good reception. So I certainly watched my fair share of Vincent Price, Boris Karloff and Christopher Lee horror films. But what we’re being offered today in the name of horror is far more gruesome, gut-wrenching and will likely cause even the most enthusiastic fan of the horror genre to shrink in disgust.

I would wager that our fascination with the violent acts that cause death, and the zombies, ghouls and goblins we create to deal with our fear and fascination of death have reached an all-time high.

Yes, I know Halloween is just a few weeks away, and the autumn tradition of dressing our children in costumes, which depict all the things we fear the most, has become as American as baseball and apple pie.

I’m OK with that.

For more years than I care to count, I’ve tagged along with my wife and kids on numerous “trick or treat” excursions collecting pounds of sugary treats, so I’m pretty sure collecting candy from willing neighbors isn’t going to doom me to hell, as some think. At least I hope not.

I’ve also come to understand along the way that our willingness to set aside an entire day to revere the violent acts that cause death – and the zombies, ghouls and goblins we create to deal with death – probably has far more to do with facing our fear of death and much less to do with our desire to celebrate the gruesome aspects of death.

The finality of death is something that most of us have a hard time coming to grips with.

Having suffered through the deaths of two older brothers, my mother and numerous other close relatives, for me death has lost some of its sting, but its pain is indelibly etched into both my heart and soul, and when I think of my loved ones who’ve passed on, I am reminded that I will also have to face the inevitability of my own death one day.

As each year passes, though, I become more comfortable with the solemnity of that thought.

I’ve also come to understand that our fears are a kind of death, because much like the zombies we revere, the fear of the unknown, the fear of failure, fear of others who are different, fear of change and all the other fears we carry with us each day can cause us to become the “walking dead,”totally unaware that we’re already dead where it matters the most – inside our own mind.

Kelvin De’Marcus Allen is a writer and public relations consultant. Reach him at kda@beulahproject.org

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