Who believes in hysteria?


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Who believes in hysteria?
By Zan Azlee

I remember a few years back when I was a producer of a local talent search reality TV show that was shot in Kuala Lumpur. I shall leave the show nameless in this article.

It was a show where a group of young wannabe actors would stay together in a hostel and go through challenges and activities and hope not to get eliminated at the end of the week.

Yeah… original, huh?

Anyway, the story here is not really about the reality show or about the contestants. It’s about what happened one particular evening during down time while we were not shooting.

One of the contestants (they all came from all across Malaysia) ran down the stairs of her dorm room into the lobby where we all were. She was screaming hysterically.

Oh, so this is how hysteria looks like, I told myself.

Everyone didn’t know what to do. I knew this was bullshit so I just walked away into a corner and got on my computer to surf the Internet, occasionally peeking to see the developments.

One of the assistant producers, a young loud-mouthed and cocky Malay guy, said he has encountered situations like this many times and for everyone to just remain calm.

He held on the the girl’s big toe and started mumbling some stuff under his breath. The girl started screaming and shaking her head left and right.

Everyone looked on. I laughed behind my computer screen.

This went on for about 15 minutes. The loud-mouthed and cocky guy has now started screaming himself, demanding for the evil spirit to leave the body of this innocent girl.

The innocent girl was still screaming and turning just like she was fifteen minutes earlier, except with less vigour. She was probably getting a bit tired trying to continue with the show.

Then the executive producer and owner of the production company that was helming the show arrived. I’ve never been a fan of his movies, but he is a very frank and respectable man.

He looked at the situation, told the loud-mouthed and cocky guy to step aside. He walked up to the girl and without even touching her said this:

“Just get up, have a drink of water and stop creating a ruckus. This is all just nonsense!”

And lo and behold! The girl stopped screaming and turning. She got up with tears streaming down her cheeks, apologised to everyone and walked away.

The executive producer looked at everyone and said that all this hysteria nonsense is a waste of time. If these contestants start doing again, he was going to eliminate everyone.

I just laughed even harder. That loud-mouthed and cocky guy who was trying to exorcise the girl looked so embarrassed that I couldn’t help but laugh even more!

I feel the same way. Funnily enough, this mass hysteria phenomenon usually only happens in places where people believe in such nonsense. How come it doesn’t happen anywhere else?

So forget about it. These are just people trying to attract attention for some reason. The girl in the reality show, for example, probably thought we would include it in the show.

Well tough luck for her. Unfortunately though, it seems that the mass hysteria in Pengkalan Chepa seems to be getting a lot of traction from the media.

It’s even been picked up by the foreign media such as The Telegraph, BBC and The Huffington Post. How embarrassing. Oh well, sigh.

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