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Nightmare Ned and the philosophy of rational/irrational fear

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by UberScout, Mar 29, 2020.

  1. UberScout

    UberScout JAPANAPAJ

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    Don't know if any of you remember Nightmare Ned, it was a show that came on Disney channel in the 90s and later got made into a computer game, and while I've only seen like three episodes, and played maybe 10 minutes of the game when I was a kid, it made me think about an interesting theory. Now I know I've compared a few fictional characters to the condition of Autism but Ned Neddlemeyer seemed to display it the most recently for me, even if he may not have such a mental condition at all.

    One of the things that come with Autism is the feeling of dread and fear towards many things that aren't actually dangerous or life-threatening, but rather the feeling of certain things when applied to the body, such as a syringe piercing your skin or the feeling of a hair shaver grooming one's head. As seen in the intro to the game mentioned above, at one point Ned trips on the cord of a telephone, thinking it's a monster, as he yells "It's got me!" then discovering he's in no real danger when he sees his own shadow. Adding to this is the fact that he's home alone and nobody is present to keep him company or help him out of any significant actual threats, if any are present.

    So what can we gather from this? Well for one, it's never made clear that Ned is living with any sort of mental disability (apologies if that's not the right term), and one of the reasons is that he's not seen to require the ingestion of any daily medication, or any medication at all except for any moments where he's actually sick. In the show, many episodes see him dealing with many types of fear, but it happens to be the irrational kind that a younger child would deal with, such as, as seen in one episode, the irrational fear of turning into a dog upon eating dog food by mistake (well not really since a bully sneaks it into his school lunch while another one distracts him), or more rational, serious ones like a family member dying an untimely death.

    In the game, one such fear is shown in the graveyard level, where at one point the player has to descend into a grave others are mourning over, where two zombies, one male and the other female, are seen approaching ned as he makes a ladder from their limbs. You may not notice it at first unless you've seen the show, but these are in fact Ned's parents that are the zombies; the fear of death here is applied to him through the presence of his parents, whereas in the show he's afraid of his grandfather dying an untimely death.

    So, where are these fears coming from? Obviously it can be determined that Ned has a hyperactive imagination, a common trope seen with the spectrum of autism, and this particular trope is seen as the game's main trump card; the levels that the player works their way through are Ned's hyperactive imagination attacking him through the fears he has, and while it's impossible to actually die or get a game over, Ned is seen suffering many horrible fates like being decapitated or zombified, crushed or at one point, being force fed organ transplants, in the hospital level, only to warp back to normal form upon having such things happen to him, although it is possible to get booted back to the hub world (the quilt of his bed).

    In the graveyard level as mentioned above, he has to deal with the fear of death.
    In the school level, he has to deal with the fear of becoming a social outcast, as well as embarrassment.
    In the hospital level he's trying to overcome his fear of painful operation or as seen in the organ minigame, possibly losing his vitals or being given ones that his body rejects.
    In the bathroom level he battles the fear of growing up and dealing with things like growth spurts and acne.

    Along with this are the shadow creatures, his fears manifested into living beings. While they never attack him up front, they do what they symbolize, and Ned has to battle them until they turn into the people that work behind the polar opposites of the fears (the fear of death being overcome by the image of his grandfather who is still alive, the fear of body horror represented by the image of his pediatrician, and so on).

    In conclusion, Ned and his battles of the subconscious may not intentionally be a symbol of Asperger's syndrome, but it comes pretty close to being one and one could even say he suffers something similar such as ADHD. What we can take from this is that the theory is projected through both the show and the game, and while it doesn't itself conclude anything, it's up to us, the consumer, to decide whether the latter is true. I personally think myself that it's a hit and miss discussion, the hit being the display of the fears Ned goes through and the miss on the double-sided argument on whether he actually is Autistic/ADHD even though it's not explicitly stated or proven in the show. Who's to say? It's up to us to figure out.
     
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  2. tree

    tree Blue/Green Staff Member V.I.P Member

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    One episode I remember something about was where
    his father was eating a banana using a fork and knife,
    unconcerned about the giant ants (I think they were ants)
    that had captured him and Ned. Ned's dad was not any
    real help to him in frightening situations. He seemed
    deluded. The way I remember it.
     
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  3. Aspychata

    Aspychata Serenity waves, beachy vibes

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    Is it fatalistic thought process that we can have as a result of this autistic mind process? I did totally stupid things as a tween. I remember biking off a steep hill like evil knivel style. I went down a expert black diamond ski run literally on my butt because l had determined to conquer it. So maybe l don't quite have that view. I didn't do it as a rush, more like hey can l do this? But l actually did become a decent skier with enough instruction, so was my daughter- she was a natural.
     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2020
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  4. SusanLR

    SusanLR Well-Known Member

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    Those types of fears were common with me as a child and into early teens.
    I've never watched the show or played the game, but, can relate to those fear levels.
    The death fear level with it being the parents is the strongest for myself.
    I always felt I couldn't live without them and have had a heck of a time doing so even though
    I was in my 50's when I lost them.
    Haunted, I call myself. They haunt my dreams and I wake up in a feeling of fear as it created PTSD.

    Anything to do with doctors and dentists as mentioned such as needles, being in the hospital,
    bodily invasive things also. And the fear of being home alone with no one to help in case of actual
    danger or need of help. I relate.
     
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  5. Nervous Rex

    Nervous Rex High-functioning autistic V.I.P Member

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    This is such a common trope - the adults are clueless and it's up to the kids to figure everything out. It drives me up the wall how often this is used.
     
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  6. tree

    tree Blue/Green Staff Member V.I.P Member

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    That's true, it is an over used trope.

    In the case of Nightmare Ned, though, it seemed appropriate, to me.

    What is worse for a young dependent child than to realize the parent
    he/she is counting on for help, information, support etc....is utterly
    incompetent, can't be trusted or depended upon? That sounds like
    a nightmare situation, for sure.
     
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  7. Nervous Rex

    Nervous Rex High-functioning autistic V.I.P Member

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    I get that not getting help/support from parents represents a great number of real anxieties. That could be a good use of "clueless parents".

    I guess I am more irritated when it's done poorly. I should qualify my griping with the disclaimer that I haven't seen Nightmare Ned.
     
  8. tree

    tree Blue/Green Staff Member V.I.P Member

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    I used to watch it.
    I remember in particular that one with the ants and the dad cutting the banana
    into pieces with a knife.

    Also there was an episode where dad and Ned were seated at a table,
    maybe the mother was there, too. And dad says sort of tentatively,
    "so.....you guys eat human flesh?" to some zombies. In the kind of
    voice that a person would use to say something like, "so....you guys
    just moved into the neighborhood?"

    ==
    Badly done "adults are clueless" scenes reminds me of those
    Apple Jacks ads. The kids mock the dad because he thinks a
    cereal called Apple Jacks should taste like apples. Dumb dad.

    I didn't enjoy that ad when it was current and its appeal hasn't
    increased for me.
     
  9. Aspychata

    Aspychata Serenity waves, beachy vibes

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    I feel bad because l am missing that part - the fear part isn't there. But l rely on logic more. I was approached by a bully female in hs and l just stood in front of her. I didn't run away. I did get punched in the nose, but l went back to school.
     
  10. SusanLR

    SusanLR Well-Known Member

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    @Aspychata I was the same when it came to standing my ground with other kids/people.
    Never was afraid of them.
    In 7th grade a bully female approached me also when I was getting my bike in the school lot and
    said she wanted to fight me.
    I didn't even know her and asked why? She said I had beat up her little brother!
    Not knowing her and trying to avoid a conflict, I just stood tall and looked at her tough.
    She was short and small compared to me and asked her "Do you really want to?"
    The standing up to her was enough to make her run and I never saw her again.

    I was very tall and strong compared to other kids my age. It happened with a boy who ran between
    me and a girl walking home from school too. He grabbed our bags as he ran between us.
    She stood there screaming and crying. I took off after him, caught him by the front of his shirt and pushed him against a building. Held him in place and told him to give back the bags. He did.

    The things I found scary were the doctors, dentists, hypodermics, and home alone mainly.