We Need More Movie Tear-Jerkers

Heather Havrilesky makes the case for public catharsis in the 'New York Times'
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 20, 2024 8:46 AM CDT
We Need More Movie Tear-Jerkers
   (Getty / igoriss)

We could all do with a little sobbing at the movies, writes Heather Havrilesky in a New York Times essay. Havrilesky laments the demise of the classic Hollywood tear-jerker of the 1970s and 1980s that reached its peak with Terms of Endearment in 1983. She lists others in the genre such as Kramer vs. Kramer, Ordinary People, and Beaches. They could be a little manipulative, sure, but Havrilesky (author of the "Ask Polly" advice column) argues that the better ones "served an essential cultural purpose: They were a valuable ritual of catharsis that audiences could participate in together."

The genre has gone out of vogue, and Havrilesky wonders if part of the reason is that we "confront despair" so often these days that we've learned to throttle it in ourselves and belittle it in others, perhaps with a mocking meme. Whatever the reason weepies have gone out of fashion, she makes a push for their return—for the public good:

  • "Sobbing together is something we've forgotten how to do—and something we badly need to rediscover. We need more chances to show our humanity to one another in public. We need to learn how to reassure one another that we are all sensitive beings who are at risk of feeling much more than we can tolerate. We could all use a good cry right now, together, in real life, in real time." Read the full piece.
(More movies stories.)

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