I remember, as a kid, watching the movie Matilda. Though the plot of the movie has since blurred, I remember two things very well: being scared to death of Miss Trunchbull and learning the valuable lesson that when people yell at you, you can do magic.
I am now 23, and one of these things is no longer true. I am no longer afraid of Miss Trunchbull.
The entertainment industry, from classic 90s movies to today’s sitcoms, continuously teaches us that getting yelled at leads to life changing and, ultimately, positive things. (I know this is far from true across the board, but much like the entertainment industry itself, I’m choosing to look at the happy endings.)
How many times have we watched the lovable office worker get yelled at by his or her Cruella de Vil of a boss? As the music swells, our hero or heroine’s eyes narrow and suddenly, they’re yelling back. They tell off Cruella in front of a gathering of supportive coworkers and storm out to cheers and applause. While they may hit some difficulties in their newly-unemployed status, they are much happier, and now understand that they needed to endure that awful work environment to realize their true calling. Which is probably something like professing their love to an ice cream truck driver and jingling away into the sunset.
This life changing, dessert-filled bliss would never have happened if it weren’t for the vicious Cruella. Sitting on the receiving end of screams did, in this case, allow our main character to do magic. Maybe they’re not slamming doors or sending carrots flying at their annoying older brother with their mind like Matilda could, but they discovered a magical superpower that they never knew they had: the ability to feel empowered.
Empowerment really is something of a superpower in our day-to-day lives. When we embrace this feeling, the feeling that we can do anything, we are much more likely to take risks, and are therefore more likely to find surprising success. This kind of success is exactly what we as viewers love to see in the entertainment world. So, it makes sense that we see a lot of yelling on the silver screen.
Think about it. Have you ever seen a motivational speech delivered in a war/sports movie given in dulcet tones? Did the United States ice hockey team win the 1980 Olympic game in the movie Miracle because Kurt Russell said, “This is your time. Now go out there and take it” in a sexy whisper? Volume is a motivator that has the power to turn underdogs into frontrunners, Davids into Goliaths.
Speaking of sexy… never worry about screaming matches in a romantic relationship. They always lead to making out in the rain. Or, in the worst-case scenario, at least a cool new job/puppy/life changing reevaluation that, you guessed it, empowers you. There’s really no risk here.
The real risk is in not getting yelled at at all. Because that “I’m disappointed in you” tone is even worse than any battle of vocal cords. How many times does Professor Dumbledore respond to Harry Potter’s outbursts with a sad smile and a shake of the head? It’s like the nonverbal equivalent of yelling: “GET IT TOGETHER HARRY, YOU’RE A BLOODY HORCRUX!” which is way worse than anything Dumbledore could have actually yelled at the boy who lived.
The moral of these many, albeit stereotypical, stories is: don’t be afraid of the big bad wolves. They can huff and puff and blow your eardrums out but at the end of it all, when you really think about it, you just might feel empowered enough to take a life-changing leap. Or, if that sounds way too optimistic for you, endure the yelling by trying really hard to spill the screamer’s coffee with your mind. Hey, it worked for Matilda.