jump scares and laugh tracks

I went to a campground Sunday with my mother and her friend for a early Trick or Treat celebration for the kids. It was a gated community full of 3 season homes. Trailers apparently aren’t good enough anymore. For October, Holiday or not, it was staggering how many people were there. Approximately 500 people, parents, grandparents and tons of kids dressed in really good costumes paraded around with their dogs and open containers of hooch. I couldn’t stand sitting so I walked around and checked out the scene.

It was a party to say the least. Campfires, candy, coolers, fat guys sitting in lawn chairs drinking beer and wives telling them to slow down. I was hoping one of them would offer me a beer. I miss the days of sitting around with buddies drinking beers on a cool fall day. But none did so I kept walking. As I walked by one site the owner was playing the Halloween theme on repeat. If you haven’t heard it you may need context but if you have you know that is haunting and very effective at creating a scare. It then hit me…background music! Wouldn’t life be better with background music?

Imagine the worst moments of your life. Imagine that before you went over the handlebars of your bike when you were 12; the time you got jumped in the locker room; the time you got mugged; the time you got into a car that you shouldn’t have; the list is endless just insert yours here _______. If you had the luxury of hearing Oboes, Tympani drums, basses and violins slowly building to a crescendo or a sudden explosion saying “DON”T DO IT” or “WATCH OUT” or in my case “DON’T MARRY HER” would be pretty helpful. Of course none of us would have any wisdom without our “experience building” fuck-ups but it is indeed a nice idea.

I have a friend who, despite how many good qualities he has, is an opportunistic contrarian. He loves to reject things under highbrow pretense, basically if everyone does it he won’t. He once told me how his “dream car” was a Chevy Volt. You know, the whole carbon footprint thing. Admirable, but he then bought a hummer. Total fraud. He also told me he won’t watch any TV sitcoms because the laugh track is an “insult to his intelligence”. While I also find the notion of being prompted when to be amused or not, as if we have a choice, I am not going to reject the genre for that reason. But on the flip side, it could be helpful in certain social situations. Like when you are being sarcastic and your audience is either too uptight, or let’s face it, stupid to get it. Maybe if the press corp had one for the President they would at least know when he is being serious or just being a buffoon? In summary a laugh track would let the room know that you are trying to be funny so lighten up already!

Yes, I don’t like being told when to laugh and I don’t think a soundtrack would drastically improve my decision making but it may have helped me a few times.

“Don’t go in the cellar!”

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