Who’s afraid of Barry Jenkins?
I couldn’t even sit through the Oscar-winner
I almost watched Moonlight. Just as the lights dimmed, and an image of a young, black boy talking smack with a older drug addict appeared on the screen, my brain went into worry-overdrive.
As the montage flickered to a chase scene: eight versus one, my anxiety intensified. It was nearing breaking point. I tried to rationalise my nerves using my phone. Googling ‘Moonlight’ and ‘violence’, positive hit after hit showed. I had my answer. I had to get out.
Awkwardly excusing myself to my friends, and bumping my knees against a row of strangers, I fled the theatre.
Whilst I soothed my jangled nerves with the Disneyfied Hidden Figures, I received a flurry of texts from my Moonlight-watching friends: “There’s ZERO violence in this film!”
But it was too late. The cowardly deed was done. I was slightly humiliated, but more frustrated. Why did on-screen violence, or even the mere threat of it, throw me so?
I’ve read about highly sensitive people in psychological literature. Just as they experience uplifting feelings deeper than most, like a perfectly ombre sunset bringing tears to their eyes, the flip side of this is that they literally can’t see the bad. On-screen violence, then, is a deal-breaker.
Attempting to overcome my psych category and my FOMO later that week, I began to watch the ‘most disturbing’ episode of ever-shocking TV series, Black Mirror.
White Bear, like all Black Mirror episodes, is a slow burn. As the dread ratcheted up, scene after scene, I struggled to continue watching. My consciousness said no to a hooded man, chasing the protagonist with a rifle, whilst bystanders calmly, mutely filmed it. I kept watching.
It shouted no to an electric carving knife-wielding girl with a bunny mask, lunging at the protagonist. I overrode it.
It screamed no to tens of dead bodies, crucified on trees in a forest, with a maniacal gunman tying the protagonist to a log, a rifle jabbed against her back, preparing to pin her hands to the wood with a power drill.
My go-to method of finishing a horror flick without actually finishing it is reading the synopsis. I Wikipedia’d the episode. I scrolled down to the synopsis section. I paused.
Lying in bed that night, in the dark, I imagined crucified figures in a forest.