SSome films leave stains. Disappeared at sea at the end of Leonardo DiCaprio Titanic. Jake Gyllenhaal saying “I wish I knew how to let you go” Brokeback Mountain. A long Labrador funeral Marley and me. Everyone has that one particular movie that emotionally destroys them. Sometimes all it takes is a single line. for me? Ben Stiller’s choke-up at the end of “I Had a Bad Year, Dad.” Royal Tenenbaums Does it every time. Other movies, however, charge you with an entire hour of lachrymosity at once, tears from you like a dishcloth.
The genre is “roppy” and it never dies. Beaches. Steel Magnolias. love story. Sophie’s Choice. Weepie’s unique distinguishing feature is targeting your tear ducts with laser-guided precision. It has emerged with changing trends and evolving technologies, and as popular as ever; Demand is so strong, one New York cinema even hosted a “row-along” screening Beaches A few years ago. You’d think it would be cheaper and less embarrassing to buy a bag of onions and get into it.
And it’s not just the movies, either: last week saw the release from scratchStarring Netflix’s eight-episode TV VP Zoe Saldaña. independentof Amanda Whiting describes the series as “a full-on melodrama, in which Amy (Saldana) confronts the reality of a broken family and the tragedy of a cancer-stricken husband”. The question is, why do we as viewers put ourselves through these emotional slings and arrows? Not only give permissionBut willingly – eagerly – seek them out?
It turns out that when we see Macaulay Culkin crippled by bees my girl, we really are with him. “For many people, our emotional brain struggles to tell reality from fantasy,” says Dr Audrey Tang, a psychologist and member of the British Psychological Society. “So we logically know that we’re in front of the television, we’re connecting with the emotions of the characters.”
We are also hopelessly projecting our own sorrows onto these manufactured persons. “Sometimes what a character goes through can trigger memories of things we’ve experienced in our lives. Or we can project our own feelings or experiences onto the character. And so when we cry, we’re not necessarily crying for the character, but we’re crying for what It motivated us.”
The reason people eagerly go to the Odeon armed with tissues and a license to blubber has to do with the “safe space” that films provide. For some filmmakers, just sitting in a dark room can give them a place to cry among others without being watched. But the “safe space” of crying is also symbolic: it allows people to vent emotions they might otherwise be forced to suppress in their daily lives. “It could be that someone who cries a lot in movies has to put on a very brave face for whatever reason,” adds Tang. “So instead of just being over-sensitive, you can go and look at the cause of the crying — it can be much deeper.”
But what’s really going on in your mind while you’re sitting there above? “Well, the simple answer is that we still don’t fully understand it,” Dr Sophie Scott, Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at UCL, tells me. What we do know is that watching sad movies stimulates a “very important network” of regions in the brain – one that dates back to human evolution, and that we share with other mammals. Researchers have been able to identify the process by studying people with degenerative brain disorders and brain damage.
“These areas of the brain are associated with the generation of emotional expressions—things like crying, crying, making noises, crying,” explains Scott. ‘The reason for this now is your emotional state while watching the film. 80 percent of people feel better when they cry. So there can be a strong element of emotional release associated with crying over something like a film, which maybe you knew would make you cry.”
And what about the conventional wisdom that our tendency to sob depends on our gender? For decades – in the era of old Hollywood and so-called “women’s movies” – melodramas and tragic romances have generally been seen as female fare, and so the Weepie industrial complex has pushed its content to target them. (Many of the words “weepie” were colloquially combined with the dated phrase “chick flick” for years.)
Although this perception obviously does not represent every moviegoer, it contains some element of truth. Men have traditionally – more than women – been socialized to resist crying to avoid showing “weakness”.
“Women are more likely to cry than men,” says Scott. “But that’s a matter of some cultural influence. In our culture, men used to cry a lot: it was a sign of emotional civility in the Victorian era. That changed a lot in the last century, during the First World War, when it ‘ Stiff upper lip’ comes in. But it’s not uncommon. [this gender discrepancy] To pan out in other cultures as well, so there may be hormonal influences as well. But I think cultural and individual differences are likely to be huge.
Of course, no one is truly immune to the solar-plexus knockout of a good cry—not even men, women, or children. In fact, kids have been the target audience for some of the most powerfully disturbing movies around, like Disney classics. Bambi Like modern Pixar animations inside out or cocoa. speaking with The Hollywood Reporter In 2015, inside out Editor Kevin Nolting explained: “[The emotional moments] Always very relevant, but we have to earn it. We can’t just add a sad beat because we need a sad beat in the movie. We spend a lot of time making sure we get to that sad beat, the audience is ready, and we don’t force it on the audience. ”
Anyone who has sat through the opening minutes above Let me tell you, Pixar has mastered animated VPs for all ages. Whether we are talking about a poignant climax Toy Story 3When Woody, Buzz et al watched their own furnace-based death, or the spirit-grass disappearance of Richard Kind’s fictional Bing Bang. inside outPixar has practically made a cottage industry out of movies that slay adults and children alike.
It might be a stretch to say they’ve got it down to a science, but there’s definitely a formula: Pixar story artist Emma Coates once shared a list of 22 profound “rules of storytelling” used to assemble the company’s reliably devastating films. (Rule #6, for example: “Is your character the most comfortable? Throw a polar opposite at them.”)
A widely shared academic study conducted a few decades ago at Berkeley determined that in 1979 champ Scientifically speaking, it was the saddest film of all time. But while science can try to distill human empathy into bar charts and chemical equations, there’s no measuring what you really go through when a movie truly moves you to tears. No MRI scan or psychology phrasebook can ever explain what it means to sit and watch. It’s a wonderful life In the early hours of Christmas Day, Jimmy Stewart sobs like clockwork as he rediscovers his will to live.
In his classic coming-of-age novel Great expectations, Charles Dickens wrote: “Heaven knows we never need to be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blind dust of earth, covering our hard hearts. After I wept I was better than ever—too sorry, too conscious of my own ingratitude.” , very tender.” It may seem clumsy to apply this sentiment to someone who has just cried PS I love you. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t true.