Why Do People Like Getting Scared?
This question is a classic question when it comes to horror because it actually gets asked a lot. In fact, one of the most interesting celebrities that I've ever heard ask this question is none other than Ozzy Osbourne.
You've heard of Ozzy, right? He was the former lead singer of Black Sabbath, the legendary heavy metal band. He also made quite a name for himself and achieved quite a bit of notoriety in the 1980's when he would bite the head off living bats.
I don't know if it's urban legend, but apparently he caught rabies from such shenanigans. Whatever the case may be, Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath pretty much pioneered heavy metal.
And they named themselves Black Sabbath because apparently, one of the band members was looking at a long line at a movie house and they looked at the title of the movie and it was a horror movie. So they were just beside themselves asking, "Why do people like getting scared? Why are people paying to get scared?"
This intrigued them, so they created a band that is intended to appeal to Satan. It appeals to the occult. In other words, there are scary undertones of possibly creeping evil and Satanism and the occult in their music.
That's how heavy metal, at least the Black Sabbath strain of it, was pioneered and invented. And it really all boils down to the concept of why people like getting scared.
Well, when you think about horror movies and "scary music" like Black Sabbath, it really all boils down to boredom. Seriously. Because when you listen to happy, positive music, you're not really listening to anything new because that's the human condition.
That is our highest aspiration. We want to be noble. We want to care about people. We want the world to be a better place. We want to be happy. Being scared, on the other hand, involves things that you want to avoid.
If you're a normal person, you don't like leeches on your skin, you don't like spiders nibbling at your skin, you definitely don't like cockroaches crawling up your bodily holes. Do you get what I'm talking about? At the very least, I'm talking about your mouth. You don't want any of that.
And this visceral fear is so paralyzing, so gripping that, for a lot of people, it actually leads to a sublime feeling. Because you know that whatever is scaring you is not real, but you are engaging that part of yourself because there is a very, very pronounced emotional state when you are scared stiff. This is the kind of dynamic that horror movies engage in.
Interestingly enough, this is the same philosophy behind Black Sabbath. Because when you watch any kind of artistic creation, whether it's music or whether it's a film, you know that it's not real. It's not like it's a documentary of real zombies. It's a work of art. It's fiction. It's make believe. And you know that at the back of your head.
But great horror movie making still triggers the real emotions. So the real fear is still there, but you are reassured by the fact that this is not real.
So you get the best of both worlds. You get to entertain that side of you that reaches that high level of emotional urgency and authenticity on the one hand, while at the same time, at the end of watching the movie or reading the horror novel or listening to Black Sabbath, you get to go home. You get your life back. And this, in turn, unleashes a sense of relief, which can be quite addicting in and of itself.
Now, do you see the big picture? Now, do you understand why people like getting scared?