We’re in the season of fear.
Typically, this references the exploration of terror cosplay that is Halloween, or the reality that our days are becoming shorter as darkness takes over the light. But in 2020, a year that’s brought us a more intimate and expanded understanding of what fear really means, that four-letter f-word carries more weight than normal.
To that end, The Chronicle’s Datebook and Culture Desk are exploring our relationship to fear in 2020 — during a global pandemic, while wildfires continue to consume much of the state, and when an upcoming election is bringing a different type of existential terror into our lives.
In Culture Desk, we’re looking at how people dealt with fear during their most terrifying moments of 2020: lying on a beach, feeling like you’re drowning; coping with the reality that your livelihood is gone and may never return. There’s even a look at a haunting in The Chronicle’s building, a place many of us haven’t returned to since we began working from home.
But here, in Datebook, we’re focusing on how fear informs the culture that we consume, the culture that’s been getting us through tough times like, well, right now. Because the key to living with fear isn’t recognizing it, but understanding how it interacts with us, how it can define our days, how we can coexist with it.
Chronicle classical music critic Joshua Kosman tells us how music can stoke terror in us with just a few notes. Chronicle theater critic Lily Janiak shows us how fear can be used to our advantage. And Chronicle movie critic Mick LaSalle explains how we’ve been living in a time of fear for 20 years, with a two-decade span of film that’s been reflecting the concerns around us.
The pandemic will (hopefully) pass. The wildfires can’t dance forever. And this election only feels like eternity. But fear will remain. And so will we. We just don’t have to be afraid of it.