Total institutions are scary, Part II
Heading into Bat Country (e.g. dangerous territory)

Total institutions are scary, Part II

10 months ago 0

(That photo is my and my cat Turtle Bird heading into Bat Country…don’t worry it was taken safely) Knotts Scary Farm and Great America decided to close their attraction FearVR, which features a supernatural character inside a mental institution, after complaints that it was insensitive. I haven’t experienced FearVR, but neither had those calling it offensive. It is this point– the immediate condemnation without experience, that I hold issue with. As a sociologist  who works in the industry and studies fear, I’m all too aware of the critical social issues regarding exploitation of marginalized groups in media and entertainment. The “crazy mental patient,” “insane prisoner,” and “helpless female victim” are often mainstay characters in many attractions and unfortunately some do depict characters in scenes that reinforce negative stereotypes. I do not personally support these depictions; I don’t see the value and do not think they leave people feeling better (this

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It’s that time of year again!

11 months ago 0

Hey folks! I’ve taken my writing over to Daily Dead in a column called Science of Scares! My latest shines a light on Our Fear of the Dark  Be sure to follow me there and check out all of the awesome content. Read more about Daily Dead below (from the site): Daily Dead was created by Jonathan James in 2010 as a place to share his love of horror and sci-fi movies. Since then, we have grown into an online magazine written by multiple contributors and read by entertainment fans from all over the world. We love zombies, classic horror, conventions, and get excited about upcoming releases. While we report on popular movies and TV shows, we also cover classic releases, events, video games, collectibles, food, and anything else that piques our interest. We want you to think of Daily Dead as one big never-ending horror and sci-fi convention. Sure, you’re here

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Color Nice text

Science, Fear, and Film: A Month of Adventures

1 year ago 0

When I finished my book I made a promise never to stop exploring this incredible world. I learned so much about myself, culture, and other people by choosing to “opt in”, to say “yes” even when it’s scary or the outcome is unknown, by choosing not to fear change. April has really put my new commitments to the test, and repeatedly reminded me how easy it is to say these things without actually living them. Because, when you do, it’s messy, hard, and not everything always works out the way you think it will. For example, sometimes you have to take a beat to have two of your cervical vertebra fused together. I didn’t have an accident or anything, I apparently have really crappy bones (cue “Facts of Life” theme song).  But then, some things work out way better than you ever imagined (and you end up with one of the coolest photos of

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Ted Ed

Ted Ed: Why we love to scream!

1 year ago 0

I’m so excited to share this great video I worked on for Ted Ed. If you have never checked out their videos you’re in for a treat, they cover SO MANY interesting topics in fun four minute videos. I’m really honored I got to work on this one with animation from Neta. I just love how she brought my words to life with these crazy characters! Check it out below and view the entire lesson here:

manresa-castle-1a

North West Adventuring!

1 year ago 0

No I’m not babysitting Kim and Kanye’s kid North West, I’m doing something far more exciting and interesting. Today I’m heading off to Port Townsend, Washington to join Amy Bruni, Adam Berry, Chip Coffey, Aiden Sinclair, and John Tenney at the Manresa Castle for a weekend of spooky fun and a little science! I’ll be speaking on “The Science of Sensed Presence” or what we know about how, and why, we might feel we are not alone (my op-ed for The New York Times will give you a hint of what I’ll be covering, or you could buy my book!). I’m very exited to add another destination to my list of haunted properties, especially one with such a fascinating history. Built in 1892 as private home (I know right) for the first mayor of Port Townsend, it has 12 inch thick walls (what didn’t he want people hearing?) and 30

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Trump Haunted House

1 year ago 0

 5 ways  Donald Trump is like a haunted house (and 1 critical way he’s not)   1. He looks like a monster (might as well start with the obvious).     2. He makes you scream, then laugh. Like the startling actor  threatening to disembowel you, he says some scary things that make you scream, but then you quickly realize it’s all fake and can’t help but laugh.      3. He wears many masks. Like a backyard haunted house with only one actor, you keep seeing him pop up with a different mask.  You know it’s the same guy, but he’ll never admit it.    “No I never supported abortion, Hilary Clinton, Obama, or universal health care, that was someone else.”    4. He is offensive. Like many old school haunted houses (BUT NOT ALL! e.g. ScareHouse), he’s full of misogyny and truly offensive content that has been unacceptable for decades.      5.

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H.H. Holmes

Why do we love Serial Killers?

1 year ago 0

In other words: “Is something wrong with me?” This Saturday ScareHouse is opening the Basement for a special Valentine’s Day production based on the notorious H.H. Holmes, otherwise known as America’s first serial killer (well the first celebrity serial killer, if you will). I finished reading Devil in the White City last fall and, like many Americans (including Leonardo DiCaprio who bought the book rights and is turning the story into a film), I became fascinated with this real life story of murder and mayhem. The mysterious and downright terrifying characters, a time of radical change (science and electricity were finally becoming mainstream! Women were moving to cities to live and work alone!),  a world’s fair?! PEOPLE KILLED IN A BASEMENT?! It was all just to perfect for a special Basement production, and as Amy Hollaman had pointed out after we watched the documentary on Netflix, Dr. Holmes did sort of have the first haunted house.

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ScareHouse - Creepo's Christmas in 3-D

Confronting Holiday Fears

1 year ago 0

Holidays are a time for coming together, a time for reflection, celebration, and a renewal of shared values (check out my Salon article on that here). The warmth and comfort that comes with spending time together can leave us feeling wonderful and motivated to be a better person and do more in the next year. But for some, the very things meant to bring us joy are the same things that stress us out the most.  For those feeling less than confident going into this holiday season, here are a few tips that might make dealing with Food, Friends, and Family a little less scary. Download PDF here: Confront Holiday Fears  

GMA

Good Morning, America! And oh so much more!

1 year ago 0

Full Book Launch Mode: GO! (And if you haven’t yet, go buy my book on audio, digital or good old fashion hard copy) This has quite literally been the busiest past two weeks of my life, and will likely be the busiest month come Oct. 31st. I’ve been honored to have interviews with Beth Harpaz from the AP, Bess Lovejoy from Mental Floss, and Lynn Cullen from Pittsburgh City Paper. Then, on wednesday Good Morning America aired a segment on my book! When I saw the cover of my book, with my name underneath appear in Times Square, well let’s just say my emotional regulation skills went out the window and all I wanted to do was jump up and down, and, yes Scream (and I did). I didn’t have much time to linger in the moment though, and went straight from New York to L.A., where I’ve been hanging out in

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Scream

Two years later…

1 year ago 0

I can’t believe it’s almost here–next week my book SCREAM: Chilling Adventures in the Science of Fear will officially be released for purchase “everywhere books are bought.” Two years ago I was just starting my adventures, and scared as hell.  I remember wishing I could travel to the future to see how it all turned out–good or bad I wanted to know (uncertainty being a key ingredient in fear). And now here I am, stronger, more resilient, and with more self confidence than ever. Throughout these experiences I pushed myself in ways I never have before, and not always in the ways you might expect- it was much harder for me to sit alone in the woods than jump out of a plane, and it paid off. I am not the same person I was two years ago. I speak up more often and with more confidence, I act with more determination, and

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