The other night I was sitting in my living room with my housemates watching the 2013 classic Monsters University.
It's the prequel to 2001's Monsters Inc. – the Oscar nominated tale of two monsters, Mike and Sulley, who work together as a team to scare human children in order to generate "scare power" – an incredibly valuable asset in the Monstropolis community.
Scare power is so powerful it generates most, if not all, of the energy needed to power the city of Monstropolis.
It's a renewable energy source for the monster community that can be constantly farmed by "scarers", who enter the human world to scare small children while they are trying to go to sleep.
Scarers are basically the rock star, prom king and queen quarterbacks of the Monsters Inc. world. Scare power is kinda like the monsters' version of solar power, except instead of collecting beams of light and solar energy, scarers use yellow canisters to hold the screams of innocent children. It's nice, in a way.
Monsters Inc. introduces us to main characters Mike Wazowski (who is pretty much an eyeball with arms and legs) and James P. "Sulley" Sullivan (a big, shaggy, bear of a Monster) and shows us how the whole "scarer" process works.
A door arrives on a conveyor belt and hinges itself into a sturdy, robotic machine. The scarer opens it to step into the human world via a small child's bedroom. It's totally normal, and definitely not creepy at all.
Once in the room, the scarer creeps up to the sleeping child (again, this is normal and not creepy) and proceeds to scare the shit out of them. The scream is then channelled from the human world to the monster world, loading up a yellow scream canister with wonderful, ever powerful scream juice.
Which brings us to Monster's University.
University is a prequel to Inc. and revolves around Mike and Sulley attending college. Sulley is a jock with the heavy burden of a family name linked to generations of excellent scarers, and Mike is the know it all, wannabe pipsqueak who, despite his best efforts, isn't all that terrifying.
Together, the young pair sort out their differences and realise teamwork always overcomes ego, crafting a friendship for the ages along the way. However, it's the final and climactic scene of University that raises the most questions.
Mike and Sulley find themselves trapped in the human world. The door they used to enter has been switched off from the other side, and the duo realise they need to generate an insane amount of scare power, from the human side, to get the door working again.
Mike and Sulley are at a summer camp – the door opened into one of the cabins filled with bunk beds (and children) – but the kids have run off and alerted park rangers after Mike's bungled attempts to scare them.
Together, the pair wait for the park rangers to gather before setting up an incredibly elaborate scare that freaks the hell out of the adult park rangers. The scare power is monstrous. Not only do the wails and screams of the adults generate enough power to reopen the door, but enough to cause hundreds of canisters to explode. I mean, they blow the fucking door up.
It begs the question: why didn't scarers from Monstropolis see this and decide to begin scaring adults?
Considering that this all happened a decade or so before Inc., which reveals laughter to be more powerful than screams, surely the scarers who witnessed the Great Wazowski x Sullivan Summer Camp Scare would insist attentions shift from scaring children to adults.
There's actually not that much online about this theory. There is one Reddit thread from three years ago, and their main reasoning that most monsters don't scare adults is intelligence.
"They probably just make the assumption 'adults seem to be our level of intelligence, we can make cameras, they probably can too. Should probs be careful of that'," answered Reddit user 6QH.
"It's not really explained how much they really know of the human world – it's probably basic scouting, which means they can judge social behaviours (eg. not listening to kids) but won't know the ins and outs of their tech."
But would the risk of humans having some sort of unknown technology really be enough to stop monsters from scaring adults?
It's not like the monster world is free of corruption and bad characters. Monster's University and Inc. both demonstrate the way Randall, the salamander-esque monster who can turn invisible, turns to greed and desire over friendship. Wouldn't these more evil characters prioritise scream power over anything else? Especially in a world as competitive as the scarers. Others say that the simple fact that adults are much harder to scare might be a factor.
Another theory, which is pretty reasonable, is that the monsters never barge in on adults in bed because, well... they be fucking.
BuzzFeed News has contacted Disney Pixar, the company behind the movies, to ask if there's any concrete reason why adults aren't the main target of the Monstropolis Scarers. Until then, there's only theories and countless arguments.