Includes small spoilers for the end of the movie “It”
I can think of one thing that I love better than watching scary movies -- and that’s watching them with people who haven’t seen it when I have. I remember looking over in the movie theater and seeing one friend practically lying across the other, gripping his arm so hard it nearly bled. I remember my friend being that one person who screams throughout the whole movie. I remember laughing at how dramatic some of my friends can be when the suspense is almost too much.
At the same time, I’ve found myself in their positions too. I’ve been the one who is breathing heavily and rocking back and forth. I’ve been the one doing what I call the “windshield wiper,” where you wave your fingers back and forth across your eyes, wanting but also not wanting to watch.
Fear is an incredibly powerful emotion -- it affects not only our minds but also our physical bodies, and sometimes more than other emotions do. Fear can be hard to shake no matter how much we reason with ourselves.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt was right when he said “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” But fear is incredibly real and it serves a purpose. Our minds and bodies have known and learned to listen to our instincts, fears, and other certain things we distrust for survival.
Our reasons for some fears are obvious and instinctual -- like bears, or guns, or fire, for example. But we also fear clowns and commitment, possibly because of the associations and memories we tie with them.
Clowns don’t embody a major fear of mine personally, and I found a lot of the movie “It” to be funny more than scary (which was actually a good thing). The thing about “it” is “it” is fear. It’s the menacing teeth and the high-pitched voice and the evil grin. It’s staring that in the face, being held up in the air by it.
But then my favorite, feminist-y part comes in -- Beverly Marsh, the girl in the group of main characters, is not having it anymore. She is no longer afraid of the clown, and therefore the clown can not kill her.
Her bravery builds up her friends, who then work together to take down the clown. As each of them fight, the clown, a shape-shifter, becomes each child’s deepest fear. Consumed with bravery and the inspiration and power of his or her friends, each child fights off the clown until he’s hanging down a well. Before falling to it's death, it faintly yet seriously and fearfully whispers one word: “fear.”
The clown needed others’ fear to survive, and the kids in the movie no longer gave it that. After empowering each other, sticking together, and mustering up bravery to know they were stronger than what scared them, they killed not only the clown, but their fears.
While we most likely don’t have clowns dragging us down drains, we have our own very serious and very real fears: death, failure, disappointment, spiders, commitment, loneliness, public speaking. But if we live our lives constantly in fear of all of those many things, we’re essentially trapped down in sewer just like those kids were. Living our lives to the fullest means pushing past those fears healthily and knowing that we are people who have the power to make choices, the hope to find the good in the world, the strength to do whatever we need to do, and the knowledge that if we mess up, it’s okay. We are the encompassment of these values for other people, as we inspire them with our actions and encourage them with our words. When we utilize the support of other people and stand up to our fears, we can defeat them.