Sunday, 12 April 2015
Frightened of a Ladybird - part 1
Recently on Twitter I ran a 'contest' to establish which Ladybird villain had proved the scariest in childhood. I ran the contest as a knock-out challenge, presenting people with the villains two by two, eliminating one at a time. Feelings ran high - everyone seemed convinced that the character that scared them most MUST have awakened a similar response in everyone else. Almost everyone who 'voted' ended their message with something like: 'obviously' 'naturally' or 'no contest'. There WAS a contest; almost all these 'knock-out rounds' were extremely close.
Here's a poll so you can register your vote too. This time it's an open, 8-way choice. It will be interesting to see if an 'open' vote reaches the same conclusion as did the 'knock-out' vote.
Click here to vote
So what themes emerged from this about the nature of childhood fears (she says, trying to clothe this utterly pointless but pretty enjoyable exercise in a thin layer of psychological analysis)?
1) Fear of the wolf, especially of wolves that lie deep in a dark forest and that disguise themselves as people we love. I'll leave further analysis of this one to the grown-ups.
2) The pointy, waspiness of Rumpelstiltskin seemed to trouble people. His skinny little legs and pointy features in those stripy tights. Is that about getting a wasp sting in early life?
3) Things that lie under bridges. The Bridge Troll seemed to be many people's big fear. Even though he had big, soft round eyes and a rather daft expression many people said that they still feel uncomfortable crossing bridges even today. Maybe another manifestation of the fear of the creature lurking under the bed?
I had to think about this one. Why did that ill-tempered but pretty useless little hominid provoke such a strong reaction in so many? I wonder if it's got something to do with the powerlessness a child feels when confronted with (what seems like) irrational and uncontrolled anger in adults; ie from the people we expect to be rational and controlled?