[The horror] On the stand
I sometimes think that everyone has a pretty unique balance of normal fears (like being sick, losing someone they love, or getting attacked by a swarm of spiders) and also seemingly random fears that belong only to them. While Normal Person Fears are pretty understandable and relatable, the other smaller, weird ones usually come to us in interesting ways.
Sometimes they’re based on past traumas or experiences, sometimes they’re learned or forced onto us by people or circumstances, and sometimes their root is in our personality. More often, though, I think it’s just an amalgamation of all of these. Our life experiences come together to form a neural pathway (how’s that for science!) that makes us behave irrationally when faced with certain events or situations. Here’s one of my weird fears: having to testify at a trial.
I have absolutely no explanation for this fear, but just the thought of it makes me break out into a cold sweat. I’ve never been in a courtroom during a case, I’ve never been subpoenaed, I’ve never served as a juror on an active case — heck, I’ve never even gotten a speeding ticket.
I might not know where the horror of being on the stand came from, but I do know what horrifies me about it, and a lot of that is thanks to K-dramas. Because really, throw a rock and you’ll hit a drama with a courtroom scene, and plot that centers on a trial. It doesn’t have to be a courtroom drama, either — the bulk of dramas have, at their core, some brush with the justice system.
K-dramas have taught me being on the stand means trauma. Think of the early courtroom scene in I Hear Your Voice, where Lee Bo-young’s character (in the shape of Kim So-hyun) testifies as a murder witness. Not only is this court scene pretty scary, but the ramifications of testifying follow her for her entire life. While I love that this story was about courage and justice and forgiveness, when I think about giving that kind of testimony in real life, I get the heebie jeebies.
K-dramas also taught me that testifying means you’re going to be sitting in a small
cage chair and everyone in the entire room will be looking at you. Okay, I didn’t need a drama to tell me that one, but as a pretty strong introvert, this is one situation I would like to avoid like the plague. Is there a way to stand up for truth and justice without being put on display?
Finally, completing the trial fear trifecta, K-dramas have shown the pressure of thinking and speaking on the spot all too real. I’m a writer, not an orator. While I can communicate face-to-face like an average human, I really don’t consider myself very good at thinking on my toes, or being clever with my words (especially when I’m nervous!). So, testifying with an attorney or prosecutor trying to trip me up? The horror.
Recent crime thriller Justice, with Choi Jin-hyuk in the lead as an attorney, embodied this exact fear. In an early case, he effectively tripped up a defendant, getting her to admit to all sorts of things accidentally, and flipped the case against her. In this scenario, someone who has done their homework and has a mean game plan faces off with someone who’s without a plan at all, and is most likely emotionally compromised. It doesn’t seem quite right. In fact, it’s downright upsetting. But then again, it’s satisfying to watch a baddie get caught in this exact kind of web, so maybe it’s just a matter of where you’re sitting in the courtroom?
I don’t actively avoid dramas with courtrooms and attorneys (like I do ones with terminal illness and Alzheimer’s), but I don’t exactly enjoy endless streams of court scenes, either. However, sometimes watching these scenes is like staring at a spider that you can’t tear your eyes away from. I guess this is because on the other side of fear is awe, and I really am in awe of people who are smart and adaptive and sly enough to get others to say things using just the right words, and in just the right way.
That’s when I realized this fear of mine is really the fear of having to be on the stand. It’s not about all the eyes looking, ears listening, and every word you say being recorded. Rather, it’s the fear of inadequacy. Of not being quick-witted enough, sharp enough, or astute enough, to catch the game that’s going on around you. This exists in other capacities, of course (in life and in dramas), but it never rings quite so loudly as when there’s a lone soul on the stand, struggling to hold it together. I feel you.
- [Theme of the Month] The horror
- [Theme of the Month] Hey, that’s me (again)
- [Theme of the Month] Hey, that’s me
- [Theme of the Month] Villains
- [Theme of the Month] K-dramas and community
- [Theme of the Month] Dramas and food
- [Theme of the Month] Short but sweet
- [Theme of the Month] Adaptations
- [Theme of the Month] Happily never after
- [Theme of the Month] Plot twists
- [Theme of the Month] Year in dramas
Tags: Theme of the Month