Fear can take on many forms. The typical fears that many of us have can include the dark, heights, clowns, spiders etc… Phobias come into play as well. There are hundreds of reasons for why we have these fears, experiences in our past, experiences from a young age that determine the things that scare us. Fear can be represented in the media through different forms such as television broadcast, films/series, news, online articles and photography. Smaller things can resonate with aspects of our specific fear and the level at which it scares us. They can appear at random times in our day to day lives. An area I decided to research into was fear within the news and how certain stories can leave us feeling uneasy on certain issues or events.
According to Psychology Today (2011) “Fear-based news stories prey on the anxieties we all have and then hold us hostage.” The structure of news stories have changed over time away from just the simplistic, factual format that they were once before. They are designed to grab the audience’s attention, quite often identifying with a certain fear that they may have. In this day and age it could be the threat of war, terrorism, the unstable economy, political issues. The second part is to ‘persuade’ the audience that the solution for reducing the identified fear is within the new story. They will then watch the full broadcast waiting to hear that specific story. It’s interesting to look at it this way as most of us just believe the news and accept that it is ultimately pure and true. We don’t think abut how they have presented these news stories in certain ways or how they could have reorganised the content for different meaning.
Here is an example of how a story can be designed to resinate with a fear across the country about the ongoing threat of terrorism in America. They analyse certain material and specifically use the word ‘scary’ and focus on the presence in America. People will instantly see these materials, understand that their is an immediate threat to the country and watch a ‘professional’ analyse the video and further cement the feelings the audience already have.
It is interesting taking a step back and considering how the news broadcasters arrange the 30 minute news segment to get you hooked and willing to watch the whole thing. In order to do this they focus on fears and almost scaring you into watching it, waiting to hear something that might inform you or by the end give you a little comfort. They may present a resolution of some kind but this isn’t always the case.
Another side I wanted to look at in relation to my own response to the theme of Fear was film and how they can be advertised to make you feel uneasy. Sometimes the marketing campaigns for films can be quite unique and inventive, especially when it comes to horror films. The posters can be quite dark, with some being banned in certain countries. An area of this I wanted to look at was our fear with figures, with dolls, with statues. Representations of humans, of animals. Some can seem so lifelike, others can feel real as we unconsciously look to make sense of things, as our brains always do. This can leave us staring into the eyes of technically an inanimate object but we can believe in it, the story can make us scared of something that won’t technically harm us. Here are some examples below:
The stills are from the horror films ‘The Woman in Black’ (Watkins, J. 2012) and ‘Annabelle’ (Leonetti, J. 2014). They bring life into these small figures, making us scared of whether they are really alive. The doll is specifically deigned to be creepy but at the end of the day it is only made up of fabric and plastic. What is it that makes us scared then? As I mentioned before I believe it is rooted in our own experiences when we were younger and the fears and/or phobias we have developed since that time. It’s about us feeling watched, an uneasy feeling when we’re alone. It can be associated with so many other feelings and emotions. Paranoia can set in, leaving us panicking over what can see us.
At the end of the day it’s all our imagination, all in our head right?
DEBORAH, S. (2011) If It Bleeds, It Leads: Understanding Fear-Based Media [Online] Available from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/two-takes-depression/201106/if-it-bleeds-it-leads-understanding-fear-based-media [Accessed: 31/10/2016]
GRIZZLY BOMB. (2012) Grizzly Review: The Woman In Black [Online Image] Available from: https://grizzlybomb.com/2012/02/06/grizzly-review-the-woman-in-black [Accessed: 31/10/16]
NEWSHOUNDS. (2014) Fox News Fear Mongers An Islamic Terrorist Is On It Way To Your Hometown, Thanks To Obama [Online Video] 4th August. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pYslQD4Zabw [Accessed: 31/10/2016]
SCREENRANT. (2014) Annabelle Movie Still [Online Image] Available from: http://screenrant.com/tag/annabelle [Accessed: 31/10/16]
VIRTUAL BORDERLAND. (2012) Film Review – The Woman in Black, 2012 [Online Image] Available from: https://virtualborderland.wordpress.com/2012/02/11/the-woman-in-black-2012 [Accessed: 31/10/16]