The Piper Laurie Loop

There’s this voice that has been haunting me since I was 10 or 11, whenever it was that I first saw Carrie. It’s Piper Laurie as Margaret White, pitched up and screeching through my mind on a loop.

“They’re all gonna laugh at you.”

“They’re all gonna laugh at you.”

“They’re all gonna laugh at you.”

Ad nauseam.

I know when the voice will hit, like when I’m trying on a new outfit or writing a story or doing something else where people could very likely laugh at me. Yeah, it sounds a little bizarre to admit this, but there’s no way I’ll believe that I’m the only person plagued by the Piper Laurie Loop. That line from Carrie has been referenced too much in pop culture for this to be an anomaly.

“They’re all gonna laugh at you.”

Goddamn, will someone shut up Carrie’s mom already?

I remember the first time I saw Carrie. I don’t remember the year, or exactly how old I was, but it was at the time that I was moaning because my parents wouldn’t let me watch Nightmare on Elm Street or Friday the 13th movies like everyone else. They had a thing against slasher flicks, but for some reason were okay with me watching Carrie, Rosemary’s Baby and The Birds. Don’t ask me to explain the logic behind that. I kept saying, “This movie isn’t scary,” and my dad kept telling me, “Just wait, Liz.” By the end of the movie, I conceded, “Okay, it’s kind of scary.” In truth, though, Carrie was horrifying, not because of the creepy Bible-beating mom or the prom massacre or even that thing that happens at the very end of the movie. It’s the moment in between the bucket drop and the telekinetic killing spree, when you see Sissy Spacek as Carrie on the stage, bloody hands to her bloody face, covering all but her bulging eyeballs and gaping mouth as her mom’s voice plays and replays over images of everyone laughing at the poor prom queen.

“They’re all gonna laugh at you.”

It doesn’t stop.

By the time you’re 10, you know that, if given the chance, everyone will laugh at you, even if everyone is really only two people. Maybe, by this time, you have already experienced abject humiliation. Maybe you saw it happen to someone else. Either way, you know that scene in Carrie as something more than fiction.

The best horror movies aren’t necessarily about shocking the audience with psychopathic murderers or supernatural beings, they’re about playing on the deepest human fears, the ones you are loathe to ever admit. The fear that you will be the one on the stage soaked in pig’s blood is all too plausible, at least in a metaphoric sense. The Piper Laurie Loop plays and plays and plays as you try to live your life while keeping the laughing masses at bay.

And the truth is that, at multiple points in your life, they are going to laugh at you. You’ll stick your foot in your mouth, you’ll make something that no one understands, you’ll walk out of the ladies room with toilet paper stuck on your shoe. But, the “they” in question are almost always people whose presence on this earth means absolutely nothing to you. So you give them a good look at your middle finger (not literally, okay, sometimes literally) and you keep going.

“They’re all gonna laugh at you.”

Yeah, they are. So what?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *