The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The state of fear in 2014
City College student store display set up for Halloween. | Emily Foley | Staff Photographer | [email protected]
Photo by Gabrielle Smith |
Photo by Gabrielle Smith | [email protected]

Halloween gives City College students the opportunity to choose their fears in a celebratory, escapist fashion.

Playing with makeup and fog machines is a refreshing respite from actual fears about post-college employment and student debt.

As a mixture of  fledgling adults and seasoned learners, City College students have replaced the plastic, factory-pressed, rubber-band strapped superhero masks of their youth with a veneer rooted in over-confidence and ambition.

City College students today love to be scared of a bleak reality because it mirrors their own outlook of their projected futures. This dilutes the impact of Halloween and reduces it to the equivalent of an autumn version of non-religious Easter: a reason to have a party and eat candy.

Even though the economic reconstruction has begun in the aftermath of the latest recession, it is still so much easier to revel in the carnal response evoked by zombies, vampires and torture-centric horror movies rather than face the reality of having to survive in a harsher job climate than those of generations before us.

In fact, an entire media culture has been successful in capitalizing on the 18 to 49 age block, the main group of college students today.

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With its fall premiere, “The Walking Dead” on AMC broke the record for cable TV ratings with 17 million viewers, the majority of whom are in the under-50 age bracket. Based on a graphic novel, the show is centered on the American populace surviving a post-apocalyptic outbreak of zombies.

This targeted population keeps growing. According to the National Center of Education Statistics, between 2000 and 2011, the enrollment of students under age 25 increased by 35 percent. For students 25 and over, enrollment grew by 41 percent during the same period. From 2011 to 2021, NCES projects a 13 percent hike in enrollments of students under 25, and a rise of 14 percent in enrollments of students 25 and over.

With popular culture tapping into the national apprehension of a dismal future through shows like “The Walking Dead” or HBO’s “The Leftovers,” the premise of which is based on the after-effects of a rapture-like event, media have bled year-round into the realm that Halloween has monopolized since the early 20th century.

In the real world, media have been consumed by a more realistic pandemic: the spread of the Ebola virus. Although the virus’ effects do not have as much entertainment appeal as undead loved ones walking around trying to eat people, the fear of its outbreak domestically has permeated our national consciousness.

According to a poll released by the Harvard School of Public Heath, 39 percent of American adults are concerned about an actual large Ebola outbreak in the U.S. The startling statistic is how many of those concerned are uneducated: 50 percent. Compared to the 36 percent of those who have had some college and the 24 percent who are college graduates, the majority of actual fear belongs to the segment of population that is least likely to learn the facts about Ebola, a real health crisis in other countries.

That’s why fantasy catastrophic entertainment is so popular. Maybe that’s what fear is for City College students in 2014 — not the carnival of unrealistic horrors on which we satisfy our sweet tooth, but the realization that the more we as students learn and grow, the less we have to be truly afraid of. Which makes the truly scary stuff , like job security and career success, so much more potent.

As Halloween approaches, whatever your 2014 fears may be, remember that higher education is the best defense against any concerns rooted in the supernatural or in reality.

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