Sad movies, like horror movies, can ruin someone’s day or cause sleepless nights. I understand that. I have a theory for why that happens. In order to do that, I must tell you about why I enjoy sad movies. I even feel that sad movies are my favourite kind, yet like eating smelly delicious fish, I cannot always enjoy it with other people.
We watch movies to escape, to bring ourselves to a world we don’t currently occupy. A good movie can change our mood and give us a jolt of empathy — reminding us of the values of life.
I have a natural emotion. This emotion is where I am the most comfortable. It’s my resting emotion. And like a resting bitch face, it’s not the best emotion, not because it’s bad but because there is no such thing as the best emotion.
It’s the default — and that emotion is anger. I’m a naturally angry person. I cannot help it. It’s simply my natural state. It’s the emotion I turn to most naturally.
When I choose a movie to watch, sometimes I want to fuel that anger with a hard-hitting documentary about social injustice or animal cruelty. However, more often, I want the movie to take me to another realm, an emotion I seldom feel.
I’m not a psychologist, but with a bit of self-evaluating, I feel that this is my emotional exposure. Please see here, the emotion triangle of my life.
The circle represents me and my natural state of anger. It’s just the way I am… kind of angry. However, the next most common emotion that I feel is happiness. It’s not too hard to get me to feel happy. I almost sway between anger and happiness most days. Head off to get a beer: happy. Wait in line longer than I want: anger. You can relate, I’m sure. These two emotions yin and yang with each other all day long, allowing me to acknowledge the state of the world and my gratitude within it.
Fear is not an uncommon feeling, but it’s not as prevalent, which I am thankful for. Being fearful all the time would be exhausting. However, if I want to feel sad… that is a bit of an uphill battle for me in day-to-day life. It’s most certainly an emotion I put on the top shelf, sometimes forgotten about.
A sad movie allows me to get to that place I am privileged enough to not have to visit on an hour-to-hour basis.
There is this idea that happiness is a good emotion, while all the other ones are bad emotions. But there is no such thing as good or bad emotions. People need to feel the whole spectrum to continue being healthy people.
That is why I watch sad movies. That is why I genuinely enjoy sad movies. That is why as a creator, I need to understand which emotion I want to trigger. What is the ideal audience feeling when they walk in and how the can satisfy their emotional needs? It’s an intimate proposition, but that is what good content can do. It can take you to a place you seldom go to.
Try this exercise. Plot your emotions into the circle/triangle diagram, and ask these questions:
- Which emotion do you think is your natural state?
- Which emotion do you think you can evoke easily?
- Finally, which emotion have you put on your top shelf?
In order to prepare yourself for that feeling, so that it doesn’t feel unfamiliar and you get out of practice in how you should respond to it, watch a movie that will bring you there… enjoy it. Feel the feels.
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