I recently purchased “The Narrow Stairs” by Death Cab for Cutie, so I’ve been listening to “I Will Possess Your Heart,” and revisiting why it creeps me out (even though I like the song.) In the same vein, this appeared on Emails From Crazy People. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
When the song first came out, I was shot down for finding it a creepy-stalker song. Some of the comments on EFCP reflect the same attitude towards the protagonists of both the song and the note – aww, poor guy, too shy to tell the girl he loves her face to face. . .NONONONONO!!! Wrong! Yes, there is definitely social ineptitude there, but there’s a fine line between not knowing the right way to tell someone you like her (or him) and making yourself frightening to that person. I realized that one of the reasons I heard the alarms going off in my head is that I actually have been stalked, on more than one occasion, and I didn’t find it sweet or romantic in any way. If you’ve experienced it yourself, or known someone who had, you would not call the stalker “sweet” or “shy” or “romantic.”
For purposes of brevity, I’m going to use the masculine pronouns here. It’s not that women are never stalkers (just ask David Letterman, for one) but that I’m relating it to my own experience, and because male stalkers are more commonly known. Here is why stalking is ALWAYS creepy:
The stalker is either someone you have already rejected (check out those song lyrics) or someone you would reject (the stalker knows this, which is why the approach is indirect.) He is not some shy, hopeless romantic. . .he is strange, and the strangeness evident in his stalking behavior only scratches the surface of his strangeness.
He knows you will reject him, or have, but is convinced that all he needs to do is back you into a corner, capture you, or confine you until Stockholm Syndrome kicks in. Does this work for anything? Would any sane person, after being held prisoner mentally, emotionally, or physically, ever decide that her captor/tormentor was really the love of her life? No, that would happen only after her sanity had been compromised, and her escape options had run out.
He sees you as an object. He sees you as a possession. He sees you as Galatea to his Pygmalion – a lump of clay to be carved and perfected until you fit his purpose. Your individuality, your thoughts and feelings, your sense of self-worth are all subordinate to his idea of who you should be. He has already figured out who you are and how you will fit into his life, even if the closest he’s ever been to you is fifty feet away. He doesn’t know who you really are, and doesn’t care – his mind is made up. A healthy relationship involves compromise, but what he’s looking for involves none whatsoever on his part.
He’s STALKING you! He may be outside your window while you’re sleeping. He may be following you on your errands. He may be sitting outside your office ALL DAY LONG. No matter where you go or what you do, you never know if you’re being watched from a distance. If it goes on long enough, he may come indoors, speak with other people you know about you, even break into your home (because he knows you’d never actually let him in.) His stalking behavior can very easily become threatening or dangerous. Ronald Reagan and John Lennon were both shot by stalkers. Many kidnappings were preceded by stalking. Notes from stalkers often contain escalating threats over time. A normal person would not imagine that implying dire consequences would cause another person to change her mind about loving him, but a stalker would, and often does. He will kill or hurt someone to make you love him. He will break into your home and steal things to show you the depth of his affection. He might even do things to hurt himself and tell you about them so that you know what YOU are doing to HIM by not responding to his advances.
Someone who is sweet and shy and romantic is harmless, and might indeed get the girl of his dreams based on his virtues and patience. The stalker is not harmless. He is not sweet. He is not shy. He is not romantic. There is nothing positive about his actions. He is a stalker, and he is creepy. A song about a stalker is creepy because stalkers are creepy. He might not think so, but we all should know better.