May 15 2012
OK, let’s get right to it: I don’t like spiders. I’m six-foot-three, I eat red, undercooked meat on a regular basis, I can bench-press my own weight (probably), and I’m fairly confident in my relative masculinity.
But goddamnit, I just don’t like spiders.
I don’t like the hairy ones, the spindly-legged ones, the colorful ones, the trap-building ones, the fist-sized ones, the poisonous ones—you get the idea. And there’s nothing masculine about yelping like a drowning poodle when any creature with more than four legs wanders into your peripheral. Now, I can’t be certain where this arachnophobia stems from, exactly, but since this is Unreality, I’m blaming it on movies. Plus I’ve been watching a lot of Community lately, and Britta’s psycho-analyzation skills leave me inspired.
I can actually trace my phobia of spiders back to one [glaringly obvious] movie I watched at the age of twelve, but in retrospect, Hollywood had been training me to hate those eight-legged freaks for years. Just not in the ways you might expect.
Here are three movies from my childhood that are responsible for f***ing up my manhood.
When you’re young, a lot of things aren’t really scary until someone teaches you to be scared of them. Things like teenagers or vegetarian hamburgers, for example. And at the age of four or five, I didn’t have a real problem with spiders because spiders were bugs, bugs were squashable, and I wasn’t awesome at sitting still.
Besides, Charlotte-the-adorable-protagonist wasn’t scary-looking. She was adorable, and four-year-old me didn’t like the idea of her crawling away to die. (Hell, I didn’t even know that scene was about the “circle of life” until years later; I just knew things were about to suck for her 20,000+ kids after she sang that damn song.)
I mean come on, this doe-eyed arachnid has a better vocabulary than most of my human siblings, yet E.B. White had to give her a realistic life cycle? The ending of Charlotte’s Webb was always unsettling to me, and I think that’s probably why.
Fast-forward a couple of years to my first dose of J.R.R. Tolkein; I fell in love with his Middle Earth right away (along with the fantasy genre in general). And I didn’t know a whole lot at the age of six, but I knew magic and swords were awesome, dragons were badass, and there was no reason to be scared of sleeping in the woods at nigh—holy hell, what the shit is that??
Pictured: not Chuck Testa.
Needless to say, Charlotte’s grown-up orphans of Mirkwood these were not. This tale had some downright dark imagery sprinkled in throughout, and recently-potty-trained-TJ wasn’t thrilled about the baritone, wolf-riding goblins, but at least those monsters were of a reasonable scale. The idea of a Volkswagen-sized bug lunging at my face with those hairy fangs, on the other hand, did not sit well with younger me. Not well at all. (Come to think of it, neither did zipped-up sleeping bags for a while.)
And here’s where some self-psycho-analyzation comes into play. The ending of Charlotte’s Web left a bad taste in my mouth, but I didn’t know why since I wasn’t really familiar with the concept of life and death yet. The Hobbit introduced me to spiders as hideous, grotesquely anthromorphasized villains, but that’s hardly a basis for a full-on phobia. Still, those movies were strike one and two. I just needed one more reason to write off this entire species for good…
Well, that should do it. 12-year-old-non-spider-liking-TJ probably could have found something less spidery for him and his friends to watch on a rainy school night, but in his defense, check out the trailer:
Does that look like a horror movie to you? It didn’t to me either, and even though I was promised plenty of this…
…I also got s faceful of this…
Wikipedia says advertisers couldn’t figure out if they were shilling a thriller or a comedy with Arachnophobia, which explains how I was so easily duped into shitting my pants during a sleepover.
So thanks, Hollywood. Here I am in my late twenties eating stupid amounts of red meat and living with a daily fear of spiders. I haven’t gotten any hits on my Match.com profile in weeks.
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