In the wee hours of Sunday morning, I fell in front of a large group of people. I was in a dark theatre attending the 6th Anniversary screening of my favourite bad movie, The Room as I scurried to the front of the theatre to participate in a sight gag at the front of the screen. A large part of the screenings involves audience participation including hurling plastic spoons whenever a framed photograph of a spoon appears on the screen. Consequently, with the floor being littered with thousands of spoons, as I hurriedly made my way down, I slipped on a spoon, my leg went flying from under me and I went down.
"OOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!" roared the crowd. I had a captive audience for my fall. I landed on my hands and knees, grazing my right knee, but not drawing any blood. Still, with only a mild injury and a quick recovery, given that I made it all the way to the floor in front of over 100 people, I momentarily wanted to die.
What is it about falling that is agonising? What is it about a brief loss of balance or a misplaced piece of lettuce, simple occurrences which can lead to a fall, that feel so demeaning to the character of the fallee? The fallee is left with a resounding emptiness that can rarely be equaled. One is overcome with a feeling of humiliation, even without a witness responding in such a way to cause such feelings. The humiliation is self imposed, unless the fallee catches someone laughing, and I daresay it’s more likely you’d be helped than laughed at, depending on the severity. Sadly, there is no time for logic in the moment as the humiliation overwhelms and one assumes everyone is laughing on the inside over their gross display of weakness.
Might it be a glimpse into how fragile the façade of how we carry ourselves really is? Here I am confidently walking, nay, STRUTTING so that if anyone bothers to pay attention to me they will think it likely I can crush them both mentally AND physically. Then here I've gone and fallen. Now they can see deep into my soul and know that I am so pathetic I can't even walk effectively, let alone kick their ass at Trivial Pursuit. They are my superior. I should not have tried to imply otherwise. Walk on, good sirs, and remind me of my impoverished transportation skills as you suppress your titters.
It's okay to laugh here as I think it's Pete Wentz.That is the one side of the fall, falling yourself, but what about when you SEE someone fall? I sit here searching my heart for my honest feelings on this and I simply can’t be sure. Do I think it’s funny? Do I feel bad for them? I suppose it’s a good sign and perhaps a lesson to us all that whatever reaction witnessing a fall may arouse in the moment, it is unlikely to be very memorable and nothing worth retaining or retelling beyond the day that it happened. I suppose the seriousness of the fall may make a difference. If someone completely eats it and hits the ground, I would gasp and hope they were okay, offering help if plausible to do so, and crying in on the inside in empathy, witnessing their beet-red face. If it’s a near miss or a trip, then I suppose I would find this amusing though they would never know it. The finale may dictate the reaction.
How much are the likes of shows like Funniest Home Videos to do with our psyche when it comes to falling? Do those segments simply feed viewer demands for falls, for those not fortunate enough to see many in their day to day lives? Or was the desire to see falls a market created by the studio and foisted upon the public much like designer water and the Humunga Tongue? Regardless of how it began, it is now well established that people enjoy watching people fall, at least with the comfortable buffer of the TV between them and the victim. What this tells us about the state of humanity, I cannot even begin to speculate. Oh, I do not judge though. I have laughed enough myself.
Dog with Humunga Tongue
Perhaps in better understanding the fall, we can feel less humiliated when falling ourselves and be less likely to mentally humiliate someone we see fall. After all, let he who has not fallen cast the first snicker.