Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Don't Think Of A Purple Gorilla

See? It's just about impossible not to. It is the part about the marketing plan for the new film called Bye Bye Man that bugs me so very much. The legend, generated by the studio, is that if you say the title character's name or even think it, it's too late for you. Creepy, shadowy Bye Bye Man will slink out of the shadows and end you or those you love because that's what creepy shadowy types like him do in creepy shadowy movies like the one in which they find themselves. Many years ago, it was called Candyman. Now it's time to put some new tires on this tired vehicle and take it for a spin around the neighborhood.
Who cares? Who doesn't like a good scare now and then? I like my horror movies as much as the next guy, unless that guy happens to be Forrest J. Ackerman, in which case there is such a thing as humility. So I defer to his obsession but maintain that his was the one on which I modeled my own.
I digress.
Scary movies are a good thing. They can be very cathartic. They provide an escape that other films can't. They remind us of what it means to be alone in the dark. So why would I want to raise a fuss about this now? Payton Leutner. She's the twelve year old girl who was stabbed nineteen times by two classmates who were trying to appease the scary apparition known as "Slenderman." You may be familiar with this character if you have spent any time poking around the creepy, shadowy portions of Al Gore's Internet. If you ask most anyone over the age of, let's say twelve, you are likely to get a scoffing laugh and the assurance that "Oh that's not a real thing." Payton's classmates weren't completely clear on that point.
Just like Pokemon cards seem to linger on long past their half-life, horrible notions like scary clowns and tall faceless men wearing black suits seem to hang around elementary school bathrooms, waiting for the young and gullible to snap up yet another victim. Not that the experience of the Leutner girl is one that gets repeated with any frequency, but its mere existence gives fuel to the fire that burns in those little sugar-fed imaginations. For a few weeks every year since I became a teacher, I have to shoo girls out of the restroom for the expressed purpose of breaking up their seances with Bloody Mary. I have no idea how this little piece of urban folklore stays alive, but I suspect it is the precise reason for movies and memes that play on the same fear: Calling up evil from the mirror or the drain or the closet door. Why couldn't it be something pleasant? "IwannaberichIwannaberichIwannaberich" and before you know it, you are showered with fistfuls of cash. Nope. It doesn't play. It's always more interesting to have it be buckets of blood.
Now try not to think about that as you go to sleep tonight.

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