Ruh-roh, Raggy. Something spooky’s going down on the blog today.
We’re about to unmask a ghost. Maybe. And set a trap! Or not. We’re definitely not splitting up, though. This gang is here to stay(speaking of which, there’s no doubt that I’m a Velma. Moving on.)
The Big Reveal
Is there such a thing as the ghost of Pickitt Hall?
There have been no sightings. No one takes the stories seriously. It’s more of a campus joke than an urban legend, just a few sentences on an internet forum that’s still around twelve years later.
There’s not even a real basis of truth to the stories. There were no tragedies on campus during the suspected time period, no tangible threats to campus safety. Just a spirit of vulnerability that haunted students more than the story of ghost ever could.
But I think there is still something here that is worth discussing.
What makes a story memorable? What keeps audiences coming back to the same old story, year after year, and still manages to keep their interest? Is it, as Hollywood suggests, blood and sex and violence? Or is it something more subtle, like the heartwarming pulse of a Disney movie?
Let me point you to another cautionary tale: the legend of Apollo and Daphne.
Now, in case you aren’t familiar with this story, let me break it down for you. Apollo, god of music, gets the hots for a nymph named Daphne. Daphne does not reciprocate. Apollo starts to chase her in a little game called “be-my-woman-or-else-I’ll-make-you.” Daphne calls out to her river-daddy to save her and BOOM, river-daddy turns her into a tree.
As far as myths go, this is pretty typical. Greek gods, as most of us know, don’t know how to keep it in their pants. But this reminds me of our little ghost story in more ways than one, which of course, I’m happy to share with you.
The ancient Greeks worshipped these gods and goddesses, but one wonders how much they actually believed these stories. Did they think that people could literally turn into trees to avoid their problems(which, by the way, I’d be totally down with. Just make me a Christmas tree so I can come inside once a year)? Or was there a more interesting narrative going on in these stories?
Because we know the way the Greeks told stories. They radically humanized their gods, to the point that what was considered divine and almighty displayed the rawest and basest of human desires. What Hollywood glorifies, that blood and sex and violence, is what the Greeks poured into their legends. No amount of gospel-singing muses can account for that fact.
Let’s get back to the story, though. This is a girl who feels forced to do something she doesn’t want to do. She then reacts to this pressure in a way that is both drastic and haunting, a permanent reminder of the perils of maidenhood.
Which takes me back to our ghost story. A girl, for reasons unknown, who waits at the doorway and watches, like a permanent sentry. Her story, while widely regarded as fiction, still holds a grain of truth in todays society, as it would in every society, as we have seen.
The fears of 1978 are still the same fears of today. I know you’ve heard these statistics before, but these are the facts: almost one in four women in college will experience sexual violence.
Again, louder for the people in the back: ONE IN FOUR WOMEN IN COLLEGE WILL EXPERIENCE SEXUAL VIOLENCE.
And unfortunately, this is not a new revelation. These are risks that young women have lived with since the beginning of time, victim to the whims of the people around them. As safe as our campus is, there are always risks. This is why one of the safest campuses in the country has video cameras, nightly patrols, and multiple guards.
Because you can never be too safe.
This is the connection between three points in time: 1978, 2005, and 2017. Every woman, regardless of her age, her looks, or her marital status, fears the same thing as they walk home in the dark. No river-daddies or urban legends needed: our imaginations play enough tricks on us.
You walk back to Pickitt on a Tuesday night. It’s late, enough that the lights along the sidewalk only turn on after you’ve walked past them. As you approach the front door, you feel like someone’s watching you, but there’s no one around.
“Stupid ghost,” you whisper as you fumble for your ID card. You know it isn’t true, but it makes you feel better, anyway.
You slip into the building and try to shake the feeling that something wasn’t right before you fall asleep.
There’s no ghost at Pickitt Hall. But something is still haunting.