Let me hear you scream
Many moons (or semesters, your call), I wrote a college paper about dying in Hollywood. Specifically, it was about ‘the scream’ that shows up everywhere, or more commonly known as the Wilhelm scream. A short background: It’s a stock sound of a man screaming, thought to originally been that of actor Sheb Wooley, though unconfirmed. The scream is used E V E R Y W H E R E! Most recently I heard it on the episode of Blindspot, “Condone Untidiest Thefts.” Characters Jane, Allie, mob-turned-not-mob guy, and random office lady are in a stairwell and Allie, I think, throws an attacker down the stairs. Annnnnnd there it is. The Wilhelm scream. Suddenly this intense, dramatic fight scene is obliterated by the sheer fact that the scream affected me the same as if I’d just heard a cartoon sound of a gun bullet whizzing by. I’m left wondering what asshat decided this was a good idea?
Actually, I’m often confused about any asshat that thinks that scream is a good fit for any serious, dramatic scene. It’s just too comical! Yeah, yeah, tradition — whatever. To me it doesn’t sound really like someone who is mortally wounded, but instead more like someone just discovered that their roommate ate the last piece of their birthday cake.
As much as I appreciate and am fascinated by the history of this overused sound effect, it has its time and place. Not really sure the middle of a shootout with a guy falling down stairs was the appropriate place for said scream. After all, in Hollywood, falling down stairs is the least lethal way to die. I mean, really, it’s hard to die from gunshot wounds to the heart or being blown to bits in Hollywood; falling down stairs can be walked off in minutes!
(And yes, that title is absolutely an Ozzy Osbourne reference because I’m old and jammed to Ozzy when he could still rock your face off!)