Why I’m Terrified of TV Static (And Clowns)

By: Brianna Thorpe

As I mentioned on the first day of class, I’ve actually never “grooved” much on horror. Why am I in this class then? I kind of happened upon it last semester while searching for courses and decided to push my boundaries. But the point of this post isn’t why I’m in the class; it’s why I’ve never been a horror buff before.

Somewhat similar to Chainsaw’s experience, I was introduced to horror at a fairly young age. For me, however, this turned me away from horror, not toward it. When I was 7 or 8, my older brother (who was about 10 at the time) brought home a movie. I don’t remember where he got it, but I know my mom told him he wasn’t allowed to watch it. Being the rebellious child he was, he decided to wait until my parents weren’t home and watched it anyway, convincing me to join him. As we sat down and the movie started, I only remember the buzz of excitement that comes from doing something you know you shouldn’t. I wasn’t at all prepared for the intense feelings of terror that I was about to experience and that would follow me for the rest of my life.

the ring

I don’t remember much of The Ring, but TV static still gets my heart racing thinking a girl with weirdly long black hair is about to crawl into my living room. While static isn’t especially common with cable and satellites, my family always had one TV that we hooked our gaming systems up to. Since there were no broadcasting channels, the TV always had static before and after the game system was turned on or off. I grew up playing The Legend of Zelda rather frequently and I always had to turn the TV off as fast as possible and sprint up the stairs when I was done in order to avoid hearing the static.

I had a similar experience with It around the same time I saw The Ring. I was spending the night at a friend’s house and for some reason her mom decided It was a reasonable movie for three 8-year-olds to watch. Again, I don’t remember much of the movie, but I was scared to take a shower or walk down the street because a clown might pop out of my shower head or show up in a gutter drain.

As I’ve been thinking about why I’ve never liked horror this semester, I’ve come to the conclusion that it all boils down to these two experiences. At 8, I still had a good imagination, and I think that made it difficult for me to separate the movies from reality. These movies scared me so much at 8 that for the next 11 years I constantly told myself and everyone that asked that I didn’t like horror. The good news is, it’s starting to grow on me.



6 thoughts on “Why I’m Terrified of TV Static (And Clowns)

  1. I think the premise of your horror as a young child stems from classical conditioning. You were conditioned to be fearful every time you heard static, which is a hard habit to break. In fact, every time it happens the deeper you are conditioned. It is interesting for me to think about my own child, I had very similar fears to yours. I was terrified of sleeping alone, of someone being under the bed, of someone appearing in my mirror, and all because of movies I had watched when I was young. However, as the years went on I developed a sense of realism and my fear in horror seeping into my life simply went away. I am now able to watch a scary movie and sleep fairly easily at night. Why is this? I think it is because I have come to embrace its beauty and have focused more on what horror can teach me versus how it can scare me.

  2. I was the opposite of you as a child. I loved watching scary movies, and I was rarely scared since I rationalized everything. If I was scared, it was more just a thrill or a rush to me. It wasn’t until I went to a haunted house (which I wrote about in a post earlier) that I actually began to be scared while watching scary movies. I do remember the first time I watched The Ring, and I loved it. I haven’t seen it in a while, but I’m curious to see how I’ll react the next time I watch it.

  3. I agree that how you view horror as an adult, stems from your experiences as a child and your character at that age. So much of what we fear is based as experiences as kid, because as babies we don’t have irrational fears. It goes to show you how much your childhood affects you as an adult and your perception of things.

  4. As soon as I began reading this post, I identified immediately with your experience. I also had an older brother who exposed me to what were probably greatly inappropriate movies for my age. When you started setting up for the mention of “The Ring” I coincedentally recalled my own memories watching this film. I also watched it when I was 8, with an older cousin, and was haunted by it for months. In fact, it is the only horror movie that I can remember being truly afraid by, in the way that she haunted my sleep and I imagined her in dark corners. I’m not sure when i got over it, but it certainly stayed with me for some time.

  5. When I was younger I watched some random Clown movie and I’m not sure why or how I came across that movie but that is also what caused me to be terrified of clowns. I remember my mom telling us not to watch TV late at night and now that I am older i realize it was because she would switch the channel to a horror movie and hide the remote from us so if we tuned it on, that was the only channel we could watch. Pretty smart if you ask me, but it scarred me for life! To this day my mom has tricks up her sleeve that scare me and I am very careful about being a rebel against her.

  6. I understand your experiences with horror because they are very similar to mine. I watched The Ring when I was about 9 years old and certain scenes I can still recall clearly in my head. Even some regular action movies with one frightening part stick with me to this day. I think frightening experiences have a long lasting impact on memory and this is why watching horror movies aren’t just a “one and done” experience. They stick with you. I had a phase where I stopped watching horror movies because I didn’t want certain, unpredictable scenes to scare me time and time again.

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