Halloween I mean October and while I’d like it to start earlier, it’s now Halloween season. Around this time last year, I got to completely geek out with different seasonal experiences and tales of Halloweens past. While I’m pretty sure I caught up on everything fitting the season last year, I’m sure new things will come to me as I go along with other musings and queries. In fact, here’s one that has been plaguing me as of late. Why are wheelchairs creepy? I really don’t get it but that may be because I’m in or near one 24/7. But really, what’s so scary about a chair with wheels?
I did a little bit of research on this topic because I really wouldn’t have a blog without it and I’m nice to you folks like that. Unfortunately there really wasn’t much that my google-fu could find. Though I did stumble upon a theory that raised my dense brow. The idea is that normies/mundains/freaks (or whatever else you call the seemingly normal folk) view those in a wheelchair as being defenseless. So the natural reaction to seeing a wheelchair bound victim makes up cringe and feel the need to protect them (or that could just be the fear of what people will think of you if you don’t help). Thus, when we see an empty wheelchair in the hall, the supposed fear you experience is a subconscious thought that jumps to the worst case scenario. It’s that thought of “what happened, pray tell, to the owner of this assistive mobility device?” Honestly, I don’t quite buy it but then again, I’m not too unnerved by the wild transient wheelchair.
Another theory I got while talking to family about this topic is that people are instinctively afraid or wary of wheelchairs because of the implication of disease. This makes much more sense to me as, in an effort to survive, we actively avoid disease, toxins, and other things that lead to a slow agonizing death. So maybe when you see an unburdened wheelchair roll eerily in your general direction, there is an immediate instinctual response that the device is unclean and thus laden with disease? Ok, now I’m just picturing someone being terrified of a wheelchair and screaming “UNCLEAN!!!!” in response and that is not terrifying at all for me. So what is it really? Why is the unmanned wandering wheelchair such a staple of horror?
Well, when you put it that way, anything moving on it’s own is eerie. In my opinion, I think both theories have some truth to them. Society does view the wheelchair bound as helpless and if you’ve ever been in a hospital anywhere, you’ve seen the severely ill being transported via wheelchair. Though I think there is a more modern element to it. With the progression of what is viewed to be politically correct and efforts toward equality, the wheelchair bound have become viewed as a liability in many ways over being any benefit or contribution to a community. I’ve seen countless people who would rather cross the street than brush past me and I think this is out of a fear of what will happen if I felt offended or just in a particularly bad mood. So my theory is that some of it has to do with kid gloves people use when interacting with the wheelchair bound, walking on egg shells out of fear of lawsuit or judgment.
Though, giving that much though, it seems a bit ridiculous to me. So we’re back to the helpless and the diseased. Though, what if we went more primal than the need to protect? Let’s go beyond the desire to survive and avoid disease and look at our natural fear of what we don’t understand. A classic horror tool is to deprive the “victim” of any knowledge or visual confirmation of what is out there in the dark. I get stared at wherever I go because I don’t look like most people. So I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to say that people find wheelchairs creepy because of the abnormal that is usually associated with them. People with missing limbs, other features that may not be viewed as normal, or the assumed unpredictable nature of the mentally impaired. There is a lot out there that people just don’t find “normal” and thus unnerve them. So maybe it’s just not the wheelchair that people find creepy but the curiosity of who that chair’s owner might be. Whatever the reason may be, the wheelchair has been used time and time again in horror themed games and movies. I still fail to understand why they are so effective in media. My theories are simply based on what I can only assume is going on in the brains of the people creeped out by simple medical equipment. If any of these theories are even relatively true, I still only have a small understanding for the fear people seem to express. There may even be theories I haven’t even started thinking about. So what’s yours? Have you fallen victim to the terror of the wandering wheelchair?