Written By: Zack Zaban
When you think of a technology and education conference, you most likely wouldn’t associate the line “One, Two, Freddie’s Coming for You” with a speech from one of the speakers.
This notable quote comes from one of the greatest horror movies of the 20th century: A Nightmare on Elm Street. When I went to TEDxMidwest last week, I had the opportunity to hear the film’s director Wes Craven talk about fear.
Learning that Craven was speaking about this human emotion, I was not moved at first. What’s there to learn about the experience of intense anxiety, heart palpitations and the overwhelming sense that something’s wrong? However, Craven’s speech didn’t focus on defining fear; instead, he spoke about the importance of scary movies and how they move us past fear.
Let me take a step back and explain Craven’s talk. At first, he talked about the ideation of A Nightmare on Elm Street. As a child, Craven was afraid to go to sleep because of his nightmares. His mother told him that his dreams were the one place where she couldn’t protect him and he was alone. This grew into the story that we know as a classic horror film (so well known that it continues to influence pop culture years after its original release).
When Craven began writing horror movies (and he didn’t just create 80’s flicks; if you were a teenager of the 90’s who freaked out when watching the Scream series, then you’ve also been touched by Craven’s writing), he began receiving letters and comments from fans that thanked him for his work. They appreciated that he created an experience where they shared a communal exposure to a fear and, from this, the ability to overcome the fear.
Craven went on to emphasize that horror movies help us move past our fears by experiencing them with other groups of individuals, whether its another friend in your basement watching an old VHS tape (and yes, I’m sure that people still own VCRs) or wearing 3D glasses in a movie theater.
But how do scary movies relate to Human Experiences?
In my opinion, experiencing fear in a group setting allows us to overcome feelings of anxiety and stress. Think about the times that you’ve slept poorly over a looming project at work, only to find that your teammates also stressed about the project until you all, as a group, overcame that challenge. Often, I’ve found that facing the stress in a group setting helps you overcome feelings of angst and bond together as a team.
When approaching Human Experiences, we have to remember that humans don’t endure positive feelings that are all sunshine and giggles. There are universal issues that make us all uneasy.
I think that it’s important that Starcom, as a Human Experience company, acknowledges that there are fears that many different people face and, that with our help, we can create experiences that drive people to overcome obstacles together as a group.
So I’m now throwing the ball in your court: do you think that you address the “Human Experience of Fear” when you work with your clients?
- Are there clear examples of how you helped people communicate together to overcome a universal fear?
- How do you believe that you and your team can address fears in future media plans?
- What does fear mean to you? And how can you translate this feeling of fear to your work?