By: Gwen Pearson
Fear is more complex than it may seem. It is not an instinct, or a knot in the stomach. It is psychological, overpowering at times. It can cause wars and perpetuate religion and kill people. It has this immense power to command its victims, freeze them until they are no longer salvageable. It is fearless, so it can provoke fear. It. No name, no proper pronoun. Solely, wholly, truly, it.
When I stepped foot inside the theater, I had already been a little shaken as they asked to see my I.D., since the movie was rated “R,” and I had fumbled through my purse while balancing a tub of popcorn. I had also been so excited to get to show my I.D that I probably talked about it for the first fifteen minutes of the movie. However, I had no idea what I was in for. I should’ve known that it would be bad when my sister said it was funny. She’s only fifteen, but she’s never been afraid of anything. She always rides the big roller coasters while I wait off on the sidelines. She’s never afraid to take a risk, even when she jumped off a lifeguard chair and broke her ankle. It’s something I not only admire her for, but love about her.
Anyway, I had never thought I was afraid of clowns until that movie. Sure, the scary ones in the Halloween stores were creepy but I had never been truly afraid. In fact, “It” scared me so deeply, I had to sleep with my sister for the next few nights. The creepiest part was for the next three nights, I would wake up at three a.m. Every morning, on the dot. Looking back on it, it still sends a shiver down my spine.
While I was horrified by the movie, most people I talked to found it amusing or found a connection it that shut down any fear they had. My sister and one of my best friends, Alfie Campbell, a freshman at URI, found it utterly hilarious. “The dancing scene was the best,” my sister laughed, while Alfie said, “It just didn’t seem realistic to me at all, so I wasn’t afraid. I just had to laugh at everything.”
My mom took a different approach. “I thought Pennywise [the clown] looked a lot like your uncle Corey. Whenever he came on screen, all I saw was uncle Core so I found it hilarious.”
I had to laugh at this one.
But something my mom said struck a chord in me. That we could manipulate fear, and make connections to something else, in order to prohibit any fear from controlling us. Thus, taking away some of its power. The only power fear owns is its ability to command its victims. Once you take that away from it, it has no power. This is paralleled in Pennywise who leaves the children alone when they aren’t afraid of him anymore.
Unfortunately, I left the theater before the movie was over so I had no resolution therefore probably furthering my fear. Had I seen the end, I would have known the problem was resolved and fear can be denied. Perhaps this was the biggest lesson from the movie. Not the scary clown or the eerie red balloons, but the power fear holds and the ability we have to save ourselves. As Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”