Nov. 5, 2014
Just the other night I curled up on the couch with my daughter (who is an adult) and a bowl of popcorn to watch our favorite show, “The Walking Dead.” I realized that also within that week we had watched some of our other favorites—“American Horror Story,” “Sleepy Hollow” and “Gotham.” We also love “Bates Motel” but that season hasn’t started yet. Not to mention, we had gone all out for Halloween with decorations and intricately carved scary pumpkins. I swear I am not a dark and twisted person and neither is she. Really. We’re actually pretty upbeat and sunny on most days.
So, why all the interest in zombies, horrifying clowns, ghosts, headless horsemen and evil characters? As someone in my office recently asked me, “Why in the world would I want to watch something that scares me?”
I hadn’t really thought about it before then. I’ve been scaring myself for entertainment almost my whole life. I read “The Shining” before I was out of elementary school. I watched “Halloween” over and over as a teenager. I looked forward to special midnight showings of “Psycho” and “Night of the Living Dead.” I went to haunted houses—all in the name of fun.
I’m certainly not the only one who is entertained by fear. Last week, just in time for Halloween, more than 70 students, faculty and children gathered at Beaumont Tower for the first Apparitions and Archaeology tour. The tour was created and led by graduate fellows in the MSU Campus Archaeology Program and took participants to six locations to learn about the archaeological and spooky history of the university’s earliest buildings from the 19th century. I totally would have gone had I known about it earlier. Who doesn’t want to learn about ghostly figures stopping near Linton Hall for a drink?
Katy Meyers Emery, a graduate student studying mortuary archaeology at MSU, and Lynne Goldstein, professor of anthropology, led the project. Read the STUDENT VIEW: Apparitions and Archaeology, to learn more about this cool program.
Going back to the question my colleague posed; perhaps it’s easier to scare myself with things that aren’t real to avoid thinking about those fears that really do exist. Fictional stories about zombies and ghosts are a lot less scary than things like real criminals and horrific crimes.
Yet there are many people who have to deal with such real horrors on a daily basis. First responders, doctors, investigators and even researchers all have to deal with situations that would horrify most of us much more than a ghost story.
Eric Benbow is an MSU entomologist and osteopathic medical specialist who is using his expertise with bugs and bacteria to help investigators in Detroit solve murders. He says that while it’s not easy to think about death so much, the work he’s doing might “ultimately help other people and contribute to the greater good of humanity,” and that he wants to help bring closure and peace to individuals who are suffering. Read his FACULTY VOICE: Why Do You Study Dead People?, to learn more about his work and his motivation behind it.
Benbow embodies what being a Spartan is all about—changing the world for the better. He faces death and fear to help people. He is passionate about helping humanity. He is using his skill and knowledge to bring peace and closure to people who are suffering. In a scary world, he is a shining example of the difference one Spartan can make.
I imagine that the first time he helped investigate a case he might have felt a bit of fear, or at least nervousness. But true Spartans face fear and dive head first into changing the world.
Photo by Katy Meyers