Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Crybaby

I think the first movie that made me cry was "E.T.". I was, what, 12-years-old so I was a pretty easy mark. After that it was "Out of Africa." I can't plead immaturity there. I think I was 18 when I saw Karen Blixen get her heart stomped all over Kenya. I was never quite the same after that. Any Hollywood tear-jerking formula got right to me. "Four Weddings and a Funeral", "Steel Magnolias", "It's a Wonderful Life", whatever. Give me a giant box of tissues with my popcorn, please.

It drove the Grinch crazy to hear me sniffling beside him. The man has no heart. He could watch poor M'lynn rant and rave next to Shelby's grave a thousand times and never even feel a tickle in his tear duct. I'd be sobbing into a pillow....then rewinding to watch it all over again. I don't know why movies got to me so easily. I think too much about how the characters feel. It becomes how I feel and then, choke, sob, murblurblubrbbbbb...

A funny thing happened on the way to the cineplex a couple of years ago. I saw an interview with CNN's Walter Rodgers. A reporter asked him how he could cover wars and famines and express genuine concern for the people involved, but not shed a tear. He said, "You have to remember that you have a job to do, you have to remember to tell the story."

I stopped thinking about the characters and started thinking about the scriptwriters and the director and the jobs they do. I started looking for all their tear-jerking cues and resisting them. "It's just a story. They're trying to make me cry and I won't do it. It's just a story." And it worked! No more tears. I tearlessly watched Jack's frosty blue face slip underwater in "Titanic" and never looked back.

Then I became a mother and all bets were off, especially where movie kids are involved. I see children in danger, or mommas fretting over their sick/imperiled child and my stomach knots up, my head swims and I start choking back tears all over again. I want to jump through the screen and protect everyone. Sometimes during the quiet, lonely weekend overnights at work, I'll have a movie up, sound down, on the TV monitor at my desk. Today it was "Deep Impact." Every scene had some kid running from danger or seeing their mommy or daddy for the last time and I nearly lost it. When Leelee Sobieski's mom hands her the newborn and tells her to run for it? Dude. I had to leave the room or I would have started sobbing at work OVER A STUPID MOVIE. Not. Cool.

So here's the thing, Hollywood: I'm still not crying over shipwrecked loves or prostitutes with hearts of gold. Every drunk in Las Vegas can die alone in their motel rooms and I won't even blink. But you put a kid in danger or have a momma worrying about their bebes and we have a problem.

I KNOW WHAT YOU'RE TRYING TO DO TO ME scriptwriters. You WANT me to cry. Are you challenging me? Fine. Bring it on. Go ahead and tie Dakota Fanning to the nose of a rocket-powered, monkey-piloted spaceship that will save Earth from certain doom. I. WILL. NOT. CRY. Much.

3 comments:

ingrid said...

You are so lovely. :) I think that the tears mean you are soft hearted and kind. So there. :)

I'm always being accused of taking tv/movies too seriously, but more since I'm prone to irritation at the characters.

"What a jerk," I mutter under my breath.

A., sitting on the other couch says, "They aren't real you know."

"I know. But he's still a jerk."

The sobs come when I feel like sobbing myself and can't find a legitimate reason to do so.

Mojo said...

I had no problem watching Leonardo slip beneath the icy waves in Titanic.

But then there's the scene with the mother reading her two littles a bedtime story while locked in steerage and waiting to drown... Anyone who can watch that with dry eyes has no soul.

Heather said...

Mojo, absolutely. I think I actually stifled a sob when I saw that scene and that was pre-mamahood. Everything else? Meh. And now I'm sitting here thinking about that scene and getting all teary eyed again AT WORK. So thanks for that! ;)