Large text stating "Mind, Media, and Fear" next to a large zombie head

The Hollywood Effect

By Jernice Kelley
Web Content Contributor

As a society, we have realized that fear is just an adaptive behavior that we use to protect us from danger, and as time progresses, we begin to learn new fears.

These learned fears are often developed when we are continuously exposed to mediums such as horror films and television series.

The list of horror movies and shows that Hollywood produces grows every year. Some of them are good, and some of them are terrible.

Despite the more lackluster horror films, they all have one thing in common; they affect every aspect of our life, even the little things.

A large movie camera against a purple background. A shocked face emoji is placed above the movie camera
Shocking Movie Moment. Image by Jernice Kelley via Canva.

It is easy to think that these films do not affect our minds and play a role in our fears, but just think about the last time you were on a rollercoaster. Were you ever scared that it would fly off its track? You can thank the Final Destination franchise for that.

The mental impact these Hollywood horror flicks have goes much deeper than just entertainment. Ridvan Senturk discusses anxiety and fear in children’s films and states that children’s anxieties and fears become abstract, socialized and more sophisticated. Some adults are so impaired by their fear to the point of having to go through treatments.

What most people do not know is that when we are born, we are only born with two distinct innate fears. Those fears are the fear of falling and the fear of loud sounds. All other fears begin when we are young children or develop later in life.

One way that we develop irrational phobias is when we begin to associate non-threatening things with danger.

For example, when balloons pop, they make a loud sound. If a child is attending a birthday party and balloons are constantly being popped, they will start to become afraid of balloons. Since we are innately afraid of loud sounds, the young mind begins to associate balloons with that fear.

Horror films and television shows often draw their inspiration from our fears and tend to exploit them. One of those fears being spectrophobia also referred to as the fear of mirrors.

On a pink background, two women, one with pastel pink hair and the other with pastel purple hair, are looking into mirrors reflecting on what they see looking back at them.
Looking at your self-reflection. Image by Jernice Kelley via Canva.

 It does not only deal with the fear of the mirror itself or what may be inside it but also what is reflected in the person looking at it. It is also a common fear among those who believe in the paranormal and superstitions.

This aspect of spectrophobia is quite often played out in horror films. Just look at Oculus (2013), Candyman (1992), or even Mirrors (2008).

 If I were watching any of these films for the first time, I would be taking all the mirrors out of my house immediately. That is just how much of an impact media can have on an individual.

Despite some of the downsides to horror media, it is not all bad. It is always fun to go see horror flicks with your friends!

Featured image by Jernice Kelley via Canva.

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