Welcome to My Nightmare

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June 20, 2016 by NowhereButPop

by Andrew Doscas

There’s an unsettling number of things out in the world that freak me out.  Now, when I say that something freaks me out, it’s really just an attempt to preserve any sense of dignity, instead of having to say that something scares me.  I’m a grown man for crying out loud; I’m not really allowed to be scared.  Spiders, homeless people, escalators, horses, and revolving doors are some of the more harrowing things that freak me the fuck out.

Maybe it’s because I give Freud more credit than he’s probably due, but I do think that a huge chunk of our personality makeup is formed and fostered as children.  Leopard’s don’t really change their spot, and an asshole kid usually grows up to become an asshole adult.  If you met the seven-year-old counterpart of most people you’ve only known as adults, it’d be pretty easy to see the connection of how that seven-year-old turned into that particular adult.

Traumas and phobias that developed as children often stay with us into adulthood.  I’ve been terrified of spiders all of my life, and for as long as I can remember it’s been so bad that I can’t even look at a picture of a spider without freaking out.  Seriously, the first time I saw a picture of a goliath spider I had a panic attack.  But it’s not my fault though, arachnophobia is the most common type of phobia on the planet as approximately 13% of the entire human population is terrified of spiders.  In other words, that’s 910,000,000 people, or almost 3 times of the population of the United States.  As I’ve detailed elsewhere, spiders look like fucking monsters!

I can’t recall a time in my life when I wasn’t mortally afraid of spiders, but I do know that spiders weren’t my first fear.  Outside of my family, I think only like six people know this, but I am terrified, on a psychologically troubling level, of the Beast from Beauty and the Beast.  When I was a kid, there were actually parts of this G-rated, children’s cartoon (I can’t stress that enough) that I literally had to close my eyes because I was so scared of the Beast.[1]  Up until I was about eight-years-old, I would still scream or audibly gasp almost every time the Beast tore the portrait of his human self, at the beginning of the movie.[2]  When that exact same thing happened in the teaser for the upcoming live-action version, my heart skipped a beat.  And watching that trailer for the first time, I noticed my palms getting sweaty, my breath bating, and my heart starting to race.  My mind was telling me that this Disney movie should evoke a fear response from my body.  It’s kinda disconcerting how much of a little bitch, a fictitious cartoon character who can’t even eat a bowl of soup makes me feel.

Painting

The most horrifying part of any Disney movie is when the Beast rips apart a portrait of his human self.

He looks like a fucking monster though!  When I stop to think about it, the Beast is a fucking monster!  Visually, he was designed by some sick fuck at Disney to be a terrifying chimera.  In the movie, he’s always screaming, threatening, roaring, scowling like an animal on the prowl, or destroying things.  During the course of the movie, there’s no real evidence why Belle would fall in love with him besides Stockholm Syndrome.  Especially considering the fact that he plans to use her as little more than a sex slave when you stop to think about it.  The only reason he keeps her as his prisoner instead of her father, is to manipulate her into falling in love with him so that his curse can be broken.[3]  Given enough time I’m sure Maurice could have broken the Beast’s spell. 

You don’t see his face until the end of the first act, so the anxious anticipation of what this monster looks like guides the fear through a mirror house in your mind wondering dreadfully what this creature will look like.  Everything from the way he looks, behaves, to his horrible castle and the surrounding woods are supposed to be scary.  Well good fucking job Disney, you’ve partially stunted my mental growth back to age three.

And then instead of blaming the French for imagining such a fairy tale, or a multi-billion-dollar company that has more say over global affairs than the UN, I try to analyze why after 25 years I’m still petrified of Prince Adam, as he goes by when he’s human.  That’s when the revelation hits me—It’s not so much that I’m afraid of the Beast more than it is that I’ve always been afraid of the Beast.  It’s the habituation of fear, and not really fear itself at this point.  Because all throughout childhood I’ve been terrorized by the Beast, I don’t know what it’s like not to be afraid of this snarling cocksmoker.  It’s somewhat similar to adults who are afraid of the water because they almost drowned as a kid.  All I’ve ever known is to be afraid of the Beast, so now as a quasi-functional adult, I don’t know anything else but to be slightly threatened by a French monster-man with masochistically voyeuristic tendencies.

In the world of the X-Men, Cyclops, the leader of the team, has the ability to shoot concussive force beams from his eyes.  The catch though, is that he can’t control his powers, as his eyes are continually spraying these beams out like some kind of wanton ocular ejaculation.  There’s always been the simple explanation that due to brain trauma sustained as a child, Cyclops will forever be unable to control his powers.  It wasn’t until the mid-00s when writer Joss Whedon (you know, the guy who directed The Avengers), offered the best explanation for Cyclops’ inability to control his power.

The real reason wasn’t caused by physical trauma, but psychological trauma instead.  Because his powers first manifested spontaneously and at a period when he had no control over anything in his life, Scott knowingly, but unconsciously put mental blocks in his mind to be permanently unable to control his power.  Since his power is “uncontrollable” it forces him to always be in control of his powers by working on means of control.  His power never turns off, so Cyclops always has to be careful about everything he does; it forces an illusion of control by using the excuse of being uncontrollable that necessitates such habitual and anal-retentive behavior.  The reason why Cyclops can’t control is power is only because he’s never been able to control his powers.  I’m afraid of the Beast because I’ve always been afraid of the Beast.

X-Men_116_Page_13_Panel_4

The Black Bug Room is that place in everyone’s mind where they keep all the negative emotions and memories.  The Beast occupies a rather larger portion of my Black Bug Room.

Fear, more than any other emotion is incredible habitual.  It’s the mind’s way of avoiding potentially dangerous confrontation.  It’s no surprise that the fear of spiders and snakes are the most common, and researchers have hypothesized that it’s because some species of spiders and snakes are venomous, and the fear of such deadly animals allows humans to avoid coming into contact with these animals that could potentially kill us.

Now, the Beast isn’t going to kill me (I think), but to a child whose mind can fill in the gaps, the Beast is easily a dangerous threat.  And you can beat that if I was living in a French village circa 1449 and our former monarch (whom everyone seemed to have forgotten about) turned into a reclusive monster, you can be sure as shit that I’d be one of the goons in Gaston’s mob looking to mount that autocratic motherfucker’s head on a wall.

It also doesn’t help when every other character who interacts with the Beast is initially terrified of him.  When Maurice first meets the Beast, after he accidentally uses the Beasts dog-turned-footstool as a footstool, the Beast is cloaked in shadows, but all you see are devil horns, gnarling teeth, and a monstrous physique.  Then when Belle almost touches the wilting rose in the West Wing, which itself looks like a circle of Hell as described by Dante, the Beast suddenly appears and throws the biggest temper tantrum of the entire movie.  He’s supposed to be frightening, and because Disney did such a good job of bringing this monster to life, I could never believe that there was a penitent prince inside of said monster.  All things considered, I don’t think I’m the only one still sheepishly terrified of the Beast.  There’re a ton of recut trailers on YouTube that reposition Beauty and the Beast as a horror movie, which really isn’t that difficult to do.  But as for me, I’ll always be afraid of the Beast because I’ve never not been afraid of him.

One day, maybe when I’m older, and hopefully by the time I sit down to watch the movie with my own kids, I can sit back and enjoy it without that familiar sense of creeping terror.  But for now, Beauty and the Beast is firmly categorized as a horror movie in my book.


[1] For those of you who were likewise horrified by this monster, you know exactly what scenes I’m talking about.

[2] Comparatively speaking, no other scene of any movie has scared me as badly, or scarred me as long term, as the first time I saw that scene.

[3] Room, it just dawned on me, is the real-life version of Beauty and the Beast.

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