It’s all a bit tragic really, isn’t it? by Conor McCarthy: Dilworth Non-Fiction Winner May24


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It’s all a bit tragic really, isn’t it? by Conor McCarthy: Dilworth Non-Fiction Winner

I was recently invited to the Rendezvous pub to celebrate the end of sixth year. Although I had to decline this offer (me drunk is not a pretty picture and I doubt that I’d be able to fight the temptation), it got me thinking about how this is the end of my time at Coláiste an Spioraid Naoimh. Every day I can sense it: more and more students are not turning up to school as they’re too busy “studying”; the teachers are now a lot more laid back and casual; and there seems to exist a silent air of understanding floating around the classroom-understanding that, yes, this is the end of an important part of our lives.

It’s all a bit tragic really, isn’t it?

What a good time, then, to reflect on my past. Of course, I won’t offer my full autobiography in this essay but I shall offer an extract: maybe by focusing on one of the reasons why this past year has been a very precious one to me. I’ve done a lot this past year: I’ve improved my school results; I’ve turned eighteen; I’ve helped to launch the Cloud; and I’ve been accepted into a videogames-design college in Dublin. But the thing that most interests me about this past year, and the thing that I shall focus on in this essay, is the fact that this is the year that I’ve really started watching a lot of movies and television shows, which is slightly ironic as good studying and television usually don’t mix well together.

At the start of sixth year, I was introduced to a television show called My Little Pony. Although it’s not as good as it was when I first saw it, this show is a lot better than you’d think. I’ve also started watching The Simpsons this year: as most people would agree, the first few seasons and the movie are very good while the newer seasons are like horribly-written fan-fiction versions of their predecessors. I’ve finally discovered the magic of Disney, and have eaten my way through their vast catalogue of classic, pre-CGI movies. Two Disney movies have entered my group of favourite-movies-of-all-time: Peter Pan (I’ve also watched the even better 2003 version and read the book, this year) and Aladdin. I’ve started watching Waterloo Road and Doctor Who (a friend even made me a nice replica of the Doctor’s scarf) and I’ve survived yet another season of Glee. Beaches made me cry; Indie Game: A Game Developer’s Journey inspired me; Les Misérables made me fall in love with Anne Hathaway (the Julie Andrews of this generation); and This is What Love in Action Looks Like empowered me. The number of great movies and television shows that I’ve watched this year is incredible and I shall now focus on one TV show in particular and why it’s my new favourite TV show.

Bates Motel is a prequel to Psycho. It tells the tale of how Norman Bates, the eponymous psychopath, became a murderer. Interestingly, I’ve never actually watched Psycho (except for the infamous shower scene, which I saw as part of my Transition Year film module) yet I love the TV show. I was first attracted to it because the actor playing Norman Bates is Freddie Highmore, my favourite actor (he’s also starred in Finding Neverland, Toast, The Art of Getting By, Astro Boy, The Spiderwick Chronicles, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), and because Vera Fermigas, the actress playing Norman’s mother, looks a lot like Lynette Scavo from Desperate Housewives. I also needed a reason to watch Psycho, which I shall do once this show comes to an end to see how well it continues the Bates story.

I could spend pages upon pages writing a review of this show; I could write about the flawless acting, the breathtaking scenery, the intriguing characters (including the Cystic Fibrosis daughter of a taxidermist, and Norman’s bad-ass older brother), the creepy moments in the show (such as when Norman’s mum Norma is raped in the first episode or when she finds the corpse of her previouslyburied, ex-lover lying on her bed in the most recent episode); or I could write about how clever it was to have Norman Bates as a socially awkward seventeen-year-old rather than as an adult. I shall not, however. Such generic reviews can be found elsewhere and no such review would do the show justice; it is one of those shows which you have to watch to understand just how special it is. Even Shakespeare wouldn’t have the words to completely portray its excellence.

I shall, however, explain why this show touches me on a personal level. It dares to pose a very interesting question: “Could I ever become a mass murderer?” This is a question that I’ve thought about a lot since I saw the pilot episode. I’d like to give a definite “No, of course not,” but the fact of the matter is that there are many similarities between Norman and I. Yes, there’s the dull similarity that we’re both around the same age. But there are other similarities as well: both of us are socially awkward misanthropes; both of us are often misunderstood; and both of us can get very angry, very easily. Norman spends most of his time at home, being smothered by his mother without an awful lot of contact with people his own age. Similarly, I spend most of my time at home and I very rarely hang out, because I just don’t like socialising that much. Both of us have odd and difficult pasts and both of us are notorious sleepwalkers.

Yes, it could be argued that none of these things mean that I’ll be a mass murderer and the very fact that I’m able to question my sanity means that I’m not a killer (Norman doesn’t know that anything’s wrong with him) but there are some other signs that this show might have revealed some dormant beast lying inside in me: nowadays, whenever anyone shouts at me or gives out to me, the thought of killing them immediately flashes through my mind, while the taxidermy bits of the most recent episode seem oddly appealing to me. (It is an amazing way to preserve something’s beauty, instead of letting its remains rot into the ground and be forgotten about.)

Whatever the answer to that question, I like the fact that this show was able to touch me on such a personal level and it is a question that’s a lot of fun to think about.