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The Spooky Spectrum: Carrie White from Carrie (1976) (Part 2)

by Elayne 2 months ago in movie review · updated 2 months ago

"They're all gonna laugh at you!"

Later, we meet Carrie’s mother, Margaret, as she proselytizes a woman into joining her version of Christianity. Going against social norms, Margaret does not ask to enter the house, and stood there awkwardly until she was invited in. Margaret goes through her proselytizing like a “script” until it is interrupted by the mother offering money. Autistic people tend to follow scripts during conversations and can sometimes struggle with “reading the room.” Margaret is a great example of an undiagnosed Autistic person who was indoctrinated into a cult and suffered great trauma from her religious upbringing.

When Margaret and Carrie return home from visiting her classmate’s mother, Margaret confronts Carrie about her period. And accuses her of having “lustful” thoughts and coerces her to repeat phrases back to her. At the thought of her daughter sinning, Margaret becomes enraged and drags her into the “prayer closet.” Here, she forces Carrie to pray to God to forgive her sin of menstruating and having lustful thoughts. Margaret’s reaction to Carrie’s hormonal changes can also be a “meltdown” due to an unexpected change in her environment; Autistic people do tend to become upset when there is a sudden disruption to their lives. When an Autistic person has a healthy understanding of their neurology and are given healthy ways of coping with sudden changes, then meltdowns tend to be less frequent. From my perspective, both Carrie and Margaret do have a means of coping with the world around them but handle it in extremely different ways.

This prayer closet can be interpreted as an “isolation room” for her since many Autistic children are shoved into these rooms as punishment for refusing to conform to their parent’s standards. Carrie has been forced into this room many times before as she goes into prayer, but I do think that when Carrie is praying, she is doing a form of stimming since this is how she copes with being in an enclosed space. She recognizes that having a normal bodily function is not grounds for any sort of punishment or anger. Carrie is defiant towards her mother but she is still passive making it appear like Carrie has grown accustomed to her environment. Many abuse victims, especially neurodivergent victims, depend on their abusers for survival because their abuser has made them dependent. Autistic people need a stable home/environment in order to thrive.

Margaret and Carrie’s relationship with each other is like a battle between two different Autistics. One has given into their internalized ableism and is using religion as a coping mechanism to bury that self-hatred. The other is a younger version of that individual who is fighting to break away from the generational trauma of her Autistic parent. Carrie is the next generation of Autistics who are accepting themselves for who they are despite all the backlash from society. Margaret, the elder Autistic, is fearful of seeing the next generation try to break from the stigma and tries to put the younger generation back in their place via indoctrination into neurotypical society (the “aspie supremacists” that are often seen harassing Autistic people on social media). This interaction also reminds me of how many neurotypical adults treat Autistic youth and adults who do not conform to their personal bias of how Autistic people should be.

Autistic people are often victims of cults or groups with cult-like thinking (see: “incels” as an example). Cults take advantage of those who are the outcasts of society due to uncontrollable aspects of themselves and see disabled people as easy targets. Autistic people often interact with others at a surface level and want a strong sense of community and acceptance with other, like-minded people. Even when at our most introverted, we want acceptance and inclusion from wider society and unfortunately, society has yet to even catch up to the idea of disabled people even being equal to the abled. Margaret found her “community” in extremist religion but ironically, she isolates herself from others who could potentially challenge her views and help her become a healthy, whole person.

Autistic people are conditioned to obeying authority figures more out of the guise of “sticking to the rules” and knowing that if they disobeyed, they will be severely punished for that transgression. This can cause extreme amounts of anxiety and trauma for those same individuals because if they feel like they are not following the “rules”, then they will view themselves as a bad person which will cause them to have frequent meltdowns and worse mental health. When an Autistic youth asserts their autonomy over their authority figures, this is taken as “attention-seeking” or “behaviors”. Adding that Autistics are conditioned to obey authority figures from the time they are diagnosed to adulthood. This stereotype leaves many Autistic adults and children vulnerable to abuse from their caretakers/parents/strangers/friends or anyone that they are familiar with in their lives. Margaret was raised with this cult-like mentality and as a result of this she takes all of the teachings that she has received literally and is attempting to spread them to other people, not even considering how this teaching is harming her and Carrie in the long run.

The scene where Carrie breaks her bedroom mirror is where she realizes that there is something about her that needs further explanation and sets out to research. Many Autistic youth, especially undiagnosed Autistics, are left in the dark about their condition due to stigma and oftentimes parents hide their diagnosis because they don’t want their child to feel “different.” Ironically, this is a naïve and dangerous point-of-view because Autistic youth are still bullied and abused by others whether they are aware of their diagnosis or not. They are already viewed as “different” and keeping that knowledge about that disorder away from them will only worsen their mental health. It can take a lot of research before that youth and adult figures out they are Autistic and seek out a diagnosis for their condition.

In one scene of the film, the teacher is reading a poem to the class and when asked to give a criticism of the poem, Carrie, misunderstanding the instructions, calls the poem beautiful which leads to her being laughed at and mocked by Tommy Ross, the writer of the poem. When an Autistic person is being given instructions or directions, it is best to be clear and direct otherwise that Autistic person is going to be confused by them and do what they will instinctively do. Even when Carrie gave a kind critique of the poem, she still gets mocked. It should be noted that, incidentally, this scene demonstrates the hypocrisy of neurotypicals since they will preach about acceptance but, in the next breath, dehumanize disabled people.

Part 1 is here. Part 3 is here

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