Television And Movies And Their Lasting Effects

Some movies (and television shows) make us laugh or cry, while others make us take more notice of the world around us. Have you ever watched a film that made you angry about all the injustices in the world? What about a movie that got you interested in a subject you wouldn’t have been interested in otherwise? Ever heard a bump in the night and thought about the horror movie you saw the night before? Good TV shows and movies stick with us long after we have finished watching them. Even if you think you have forgot about what you watched shortly after viewing it, it sometimes only takes one little thing for it to be ripped out of our subconsciousness.

Twenty years ago I went through my “Indian phase” in which I became heavily interested in Native American history after watching the movie “Dances with Wolves”. I re-decorated my living space with Native American artwork, including feathers, pelts and even a tomahawk. For Christmas that year I was given the score to the movie. I played it over and over again, and that soundtrack in turn sparked my interest in classical music. This particular movie may not have had the same impact on you as it did on me, but I bet if you think back far enough you will be able to recall one that did. Think back to your childhood. Did you play cowboys and Indians? Was there a particular show that made you want to chase your friends with a plastic six shooter or wear a head dress??

Now what about scary movies? I’m sure you can think of several times when you were a child that you heard a noise and it frightened you. What did you think the noise was? A monster of some sort or a demon? What images filled your head while you hid under the covers? It is possible that you thought of a scary book that was read to you, but more than likely it was something you saw in a movie that worked over your imagination. Books and other things we read can have an effect on our subconscious as well, but without the visual stimulus to accompany the words, it is more difficult to be frightened by them. However, all it takes is to see a terrifying monster on television for two seconds for it to be ingrained on a child’s brain for a long while. As an adult, have you ever watched a scary movie at home in the dark, then jumped when you heard a strange noise later that evening? Our adult brains tell us there is nothing to be afraid of and that what we see in the movies is not real. But there is still a part of our subconscious that says, OMG, my house is haunted by malevolent spirits!! And when we hear these noises, we have flashbacks to the movies we watched. If you were completely cut off from the real world and never watched anything scary in your life, you would have no basis for your fear.

Watching too many horror movies also desensitises us. I will not dwell on this too much, but it is true. Here is a prime example: I have seen every “SAW” movie made, and tons of other gory horror movies. The other day a colleague of mine sent me a link that had a video of people with horribly decaying teeth and other dental problems. I was completely repulsed by it and turned it off within two seconds. Decapitations and humans being tortured in movies on the other hand, doesn’t bother me in the least. I have been desensitised enough that I would rather see a decapitation than rotten teeth.