“That’s Not Cursed!”

The title of this post is something I have said dozens – maybe hundreds – of times, usually while watching documentaries on Netflix. It’s a head-banging exclamation, one sure to bring on paroxysms of twitching and gibbering and possibly ranting about the idiocy of whatever show, article or book led to the statement.

Now, I believe in curses. I think there are some genuinely bad things just floating about that might end up in a person’s possession, and that those things can have a detrimental effect on their supposed owner’s life. I believe a lot of weird stuff. But I also try to approach such ideas at least semi-logically, which is why when someone starts in about some cursed object, I generally begin wanting to beat them severely about the head and face.

The reason is the presentation and their “facts” that something is cursed. There’s never a clear relationship, there’s never any real indication that whatever misfortune they suffered is actually related to the object in question. I want to yell at them “Hey! Newsflash! Bad shit happens, sometimes! Sometimes a lot of it at once!”

A typical cursed object story goes like this: Person acquires or interacts with cursed object. Person then loses their job, breaks up with their significant other, their car breaks down, their phone has a meltdown, they lose all their computer files, their house catches on fire. “It must be the object!” they conclude. Even if they didn’t have the object on them at the time, there’s no discernible reason for the object to be “mad” at them or they didn’t actually have any in depth contact with the object. They typically leave out details like the five write ups in their work record, or that they were having marital troubles before the supposedly cursed object entered their life, or that cars, phones, computers and just about everything else have this silly tendency to just stop working, often suddenly and without apparent explanation. It’s a disposable world, folks.

This most recent spasm came from watching an episode of Weird, or What? Yes, that funky TV show that William Shatner hosted. Specifically they’re discussing The Crying Boy. Now, supposedly, it “caused” about 50 homes to catch fire. Or rather, 50ish homes caught fire and prints of the portrait were found in the remains, “miraculously” unharmed.

crying boy

Now, I’m not going to deny that it’s a seriously creepy picture to me. But there’s so many reasons to question the idea of it being cursed. First off is that none of these house fires actually involved the original; they’re all prints. You know, those things that someone scans in, runs off a machine in lots of hundreds or thousands so people can hang them on their walls and congratulate themselves on how artistic they’re being? I can’t see a curse or spirit finding time – or motivation – to go bother every copy of a given work. If that’s possible, God help us all if any of the Kardashians or Miley Cyrus become vengeful ghosts.

Second, the nature of it as a print – and thus those tons of copies that must, by extension, exist, makes me wonder. How many house fires occurred that didn’t have a copy of this thing on their wall? How many copies of the painting are hung in places that haven’t suffered tragic fires? How many copies do we not hear about that were destroyed in house fires? I’m sure I can find 50 house fires where a Mr. Coffee coffee pot were in the house; does that mean that’s cursed, too? (I’m sure I can even find 50 where the coffee pot was in a room that the fire hit, but survived undamaged or mostly so. Oooh, spooky. I’m watching you, coffee pot.)

Third, they actually ended up studying the prints. Funny thing; most of them were done with a flame-retardant particle board backing, while the front of the print was coating with a flame-retardant substance. Combined with the logic of how fire works, one individual pointed out that whatever mounting mechanism was used was liable to burn or be damaged to the point where the painting would fall off the wall – probably face down – and thus be a little flat, fire-resistant object sitting in what is arguably one of the safest, coolest spots in a room, further probably about to be buried under piles of already-burned (and thus, while hot, unlikely to burn any further) soot and ash.

Presto. No magic required. “Science!” as a certain character on Breaking Bad is known to say.

I could argue that my old Jeep was possessed. I bought it, and a month later both my parents died. A month after that, my girlfriend left, taking most of my things with her. Not long after that, I lost my job of five years. I could also argue that I bought a cursed Frappucino at Starbucks somewhere in that period or just before it, that the ghost of an angry gambler attached itself to me while I was dining in the Fandango one night, that the copy of Duma Key I bought was transmitting a curse or any other stupid random occurrence that would otherwise be unremarkable had somehow marked me for a run of bad luck. That’s the level of logic most often used when people start bandying about the term “cursed,” and it drives me bonkers.

I said earlier that I believe there are curses, and that they can even be carried by objects. I do believe that I possess one such object, but that it’s pretty much shot its wad, to be vulgar about it. But the events that make me believe that were specifically centered on that object. There was none of this “I bought it, and bad stuff happened!” It was “I bought this, and then I find it driven into the wall, or I could reliably make electronics short out by bringing it next to them or everyone I exposed to it suffered terrible dreams or unpleasant incidents moments afterward and did so whether or not I told them what I thought about it and it pretty universally bothers people to be in a room with it when it should be innocuous.” Call me crazy, if you like. I’m fine with that. But there seems to be a clear and immediate relationship between it’s presence and something unpleasant happening, not this hooey where someone was in a room with a doll, then six weeks later they had a heart attack, so it must have been the doll that did it, which is the type of causality these things normally claim.

What about you folks? Do you believe? What’s your favorite cursed object story, or favorite one to hate? Have anything in your own possession that you think isn’t quite right? Let us know in the box below!

And I’m still watching you, coffee pot.


4 responses to ““That’s Not Cursed!”

  1. Not sure about cursed objects, I’ve been told as a child by a couple of mean old mountain “witches” that I can’t be cursed because I have a light around me but I’ve never really thought too much about it all out side of being glad they left me alone.

  2. My conclusions, after reading this post, is that for as long as I can remember I’ve suffered from bad luck and weird things happenning. And in all that time there has been something common to every event: me. I’ve always been there when these unlucky things have happened. I must be cursed! Now, how do I get out of that one?

  3. Hi there.

    There wasn’t just one “crying boy”, there were at least six versions, plus there were “crying girl” prints produced as well. All created by Scots artist Anna Zinkeisen for cheap prints for department stores; Woolworths being one of the main retailers of them.

    You can see the six versions of the Crying Boy on my own blog about the matter here:


    I’m not sure about curses, but one thing I am sure about is the power of the human mind. Guy Lyon Playfair, a widely-travelled paranormal researcher wrote many cases of people in primitive cultures being cursed to their face, then dying shortly afterwards. My own belief here is that if someone is cursed and it is in their culture to believe that curse, then they may lose the will to live and actually bring about their own death.

    That being said however, Playfair also recounts the story of one woman who picked up a clay statuette on a beach and thereafter suffered all sorts of accidents. She was told it was a “trabalho”; a cursed offering she should never have touched and that she should to return it. Having noticed that the remaining paint on the object corresponded with injuries on her body she recieved, except the eyes, which were still intact on the statuette, she returned it to the spot she found it, and suffered no ill-fortune thereafter.

    Cursed? Or coincidence? I keep an open mind.

    On one more amusing point, speaking on curses with a friend in a pub one night, I said “May you live in interesting times.” Quick as a flash he replied, “May you live in Fortean Times.”

    Thanks for a highly entertaining article.

    Charles Fort’s Locker

    • I had heard there were several from the same artist, but the piece I was watching was primarily focused on just the one.

      Interesting thoughts regarding the nature of a curse being more in the victim’s mind and their cultural bias. I’d heard that before, and to a certain extent, I think it’s certainly possible.

      And now I know I’m going to be spending some quality time reading about trabalhos… bwa ha ha.

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