I’m not a big fan of the horror genre, neither in film or print. I’m not sure why, but I suspect it has some connection to why I’m an atheist. I love crime fiction and mysteries, because they are usually grounded in the real world, they only take liberties with the cognitive and deductive abilities of the characters, and they rarely give them supernatural powers. Horror, however, always seems to assume some otherworldly phenomenon beyond the ken the human victims (and there’s always a victim). I don’t mind suspending my disbelief a bit, but horror movies insist that I abandon it altogether. I find that difficult to do.
Why am I talking about horror? Because, a few days ago I was perusing Greg Laden’s Blog, and came across a video posted on GodTube. If you aren’t familiar with GodTube, it is a
comedic serious alternative to YouTube (now GoogleTube, or whatever) with a Christian slant. A very heavy slant. Actually, there’s no slant to it at all, it’s completely horizontal.
There was a story that went along with the video. Apparently, a middle school teacher was caught showing the video to his eighth grade health class. He claimed the video was for the purpose of teaching the dangers of drunken driving, though the connection between the subject of the video and drunken driving is… well, let’s be blunt – nonexistent. But you be the judge. Take a look at the video. I’ll wait.
(Note: I linked to the copy from YouTube, because I can’t embed GodTube videos on this blog. However, the original on Greg’s blog shows it came from GodTube, as does the related news article.)
The point, the purpose, the raison d’être of the horror genre is to scare the wits out of the viewer/reader. The rise in endorphins and other chemicals associated with fear can caused some pleasurable sensations in individuals. It’s the fight or flight response we inherited from our distant ancestors, somewhat modulated by the modern comforts and security of a movie theater or comfortable reading chair. In the entertainment context, I have no problem with that. One’s man’s entertainment is another’s rubbish, but the choice is personal. It’s not for me, but I don’t impose my personal predilections on others.
Clearly, however, if you’ve watched the video, the purpose is to scare the living crap out of the viewer, in an effort to “bring them to Jesus”. Again, if that’s what people want to watch, in the appropriate context, say a sunday school, with proper advance explanation, then I have no problem with it. However, showing it in a health class in a public middle school, on the pretext of scaring impressionable young teenagers into avoiding the dangers of drunk driving, is morally reprehensible, and the punishment the teacher received, a virtual slap on the wrist and a notation in his personnel jacket, is insufficient. WTF was he thinking?
I agree that drunk driving and teenagers don’t mix. Hell, drunk driving and humans don’t mix. Showing scary videos to pre-teens about drunk driving is common. Most DUI classes imposed on those convicted involve some form of reality television designed to scare them into understanding the ramifications of drinking and driving. Mangled automobiles, mangled bodies, mangled lives are often de riguer. But this video crosses a line, and ends up miles past it.
First, it’s not related to drunk driving in any way. Other than the hell bound narrator arriving there via a motor vehicle accident involving alcohol, drunk driving is at best incidental to the message being imparted. It is clearly a Christian propaganda piece being proselytized by the video. And it was imposed on a captive audience. These children did not watch it for entertainment, they watched it as part of their education. They had no choice.
Second, according to the Wikipedia reference I cited above and here, the showing of this video could actually have the opposite, counterintuitive effect than was purportedly intended.
Behaviorally, the fight or flight response describes men’s reactions to stressful situations better than women’s . That is, men are more likely to cope with stress via social withdrawal, substance abuse, and aggression.
If the children, especially the boys, actually bought the message, and were scared by it, the increased stress could cause them to self-medicate by – you guessed it! – drinking alcohol.
And we wouldn’t want them to do that, and then get behind the wheel of a car, now would we?
H/T Greg Laden (Note to Greg: Could you please slow down. I can’t keep up with all the posts. I have a day job, you know. 8) )