Painful Emotions from Movies and News

Tonight, I watched the movie, THE DROP.

Lately, I have been filling my head with so much positive, happy, insightful information, and intelligent and beautiful art, that it was a real shock to watch something like THE DROP for entertainment. It was like a neutral drop into hell on earth. Movies like this dark, gritty crime drama did not used to bother me this much. But to watch fictional darkness–what is the point?

I sped through the movie from about halfway through to the end.

I want movies that will give me desired or novel pseudo-experiences, relaxation, good feelings, good and insightful stories, and aesthetic pleasure–not the kind of unpleasant emotions that I got from THE DROP. There was no nudity and not a lot of cussing or overt violence, but a lot of extremely dark attitudes–who needs that?

I got this movie, starring the late James Gandolfini, from a Walgreen’s Redbox, just around the corner. (I have never seen Gandolfini’s The Sopranos.)

The acting was great–heavy, dark, menacing, even frightening. It effectively conjured loads of fears and dark reactions. But I am thinking, I have occasional battles with fear–why would I want to add to those by stimulating dark and fearful feelings with drama, with such an unworthy story about a bar in New York that launders money gotten in crimes.

I think that most movies need to express the virtues of literature: simulated worlds that enrich us with knowledge; or uplifting, ennobling, or at least entertaining stories that do not disturb us for no other reason other than for entertainment.

I feel the same way about this kind of movie as I do about “the news.”

I used to be very interested in “the news.” In fact, I recently got seriously addicted to Internet news. But now, unless I am voting on an issue and have a chance of making a difference, I have lost all interest in the brainwashing machine that is the news. The human story is the same dark and sinful stuff, over and over again: pride, domination, hypocrisy, control, godlessness, selfishness, greed, stealing, murder, lying, adultery, etc..

I just don’t need any more examples of these things in my head. Of course, the occasional news jones is okay, just to get caught up on general world events. But, if you truly need or want to know about any subject, why not read a book about it?

Of course, not all movies or news need to be free of painful and troubling events, but suffering those feelings had better be made worthwhile by the importance of what is being dramatically presented, and the way it is presented.

The problem with the news is that it is chosen for us, and what is being chosen for us is the world’s darkest stuff. Then, a spin is put on those awful stories. I don’t need a powerful corporate entity seeing the world in a dismal way and then trying to slant that information in order to manipulate my political views.

In today’s stressful environment of news and entertainment overload, I think that most movies and most news stories should be avoided. In order to lower our stress, we can all choose to be very selective about what and how much we watch.

So, this leaves good movies, good art, good music, and good books as outlets for narrative and aesthetic stimulation and enrichment. Let’s use these wisely.

–Curtis Smale