Why Thorpe Park’s Asylum truly is frightening….
During the last few days, twitter has been awash with the Asylum debate. Many have added their voice, with opposing sides growing with each click of the mouse. Many have argued that the objections are “political correctness gone mad” (the irony) and that it is ok as it is not a ‘realistic portrayal’ of those suffering with mental illness. Surely though, this is exactly the point.
Let’s just drill this down, particularly as some supporters of the maze are drawing comparisons with other insensitively named rides. Some of the other rides (such as Warner Bros Arkham Asylum – Shock Therapy) are merely just that; rides with a disappointing name only. Thorpe Park Asylum on the other hand, is something quite different.
The difference is what is used to generate the fear – or put the ‘fright’ into Fright Night. Indeed the asylums of old, with long white corridors and barbaric treatments are enough to frighten anyone… but is this what is used to produce that moment of pure panic to Joe Public? No.
The walls are not about to cave in and bury you, and there are no ‘treatments’ that you will be subjected to by an actor dressed as barbaric staff. In fact, there are no ‘medical staff’ present in the maze- and this is where the ‘frightening’ truth starts to become apparent. You see, the ‘fear’ is generated purposefully by the interaction with the patients. The whole premise of Asylum, is that the building has been taken over by the ‘dangerous’ people it was constructed to control. For added effect and association, the ‘mental patients’ are covered in various wounds to perpetuate the thought that you will come to physical harm, culminating in being chased with a chainsaw for reinforcement.
In short, the sinister undertone of ‘‘They’ will hurt us if we don’t control ‘them’’ seems to be the main theme for the whole sorry spectacle, and one that purposefully continues to adhere to damaging stereotypes that are both inaccurate and dangerous. People with mental health issues are already at greater risk of violence without intentionally bolstering existing stigma for profit. Indeed, far more frightening than anything Thorpe Park’s ‘event’ has to offer, is the realisation that they would purposely engineer such a menacing association to turn a quick buck.