Sunday, January 30, 2005

Hallmark Makes Me Cry

I just watched the Hallmark Special Presentation of "The Magic of Ordinary Days" on CBS. I'm embarassed to report that the combination of Felicity being married off to Skeet Ulrich after being impregnated by a WWII soldier, eventually falling in love with him and naming the baby after his brother who was killed at Pearl Harbor actually made me cry. Maybe it was the subplot about Felicity helping out the Japanese-American women from the internment camp down the road, or those tear-jerking Hallmark mini-movies that they insert into the commercial slots, but whatever it was, something in all that cheese did squeeze out a tear or two.

My question is, why? Why cry at simplisticly written, cliched Hallmark movies, and never at real life? Why is emotion only okay when it comes pre-packaged, complete with instructions and cue cards? Why do we laugh at the force-fed sadness, and try to shut someone up when real wracking sobs overtake them?

We're afraid of genuine sadness, hurt, and pain. We don't know what to do with it. We can't cover it up with a smile and a pleasantry, we don't know how to handle it. We don't know how to live authentic lives.

I'm back at the prison this week, offering my presence to women whose lives are full of genuine hurt, pain, betrayal and anger. They don't do small talk, they rarely smile, and pleasantries aren't part of their vocabulary. I'm pretty sure "The Magic of Ordinary Days" would draw from them curses and sarcasm, not tears.

But I'm so uncomfortable with that raw emotion, that unveiled reality, that I don't even have words to offer these women. My silent presence is all I have to give. That, and the realization that Hallmark tears are not enough.


Anonymous said...

im sorry you cried @ a hallmark movie. but if it makes you feel any better - i cry from hallmark movies, i cry from normal movies, i cry from books, i cry from tv shows, i cry from long talks on AIM, on the phone, or right here in my room with my roommate. i cry all the time. i love it. britt is taking yoga @ the gym here and she feels so much happier after it...i feel that way after crying.
<3 - Leah

Erudite Redneck said...

Famous, poignant scene from "Broadcast News."

TV producer Jane Craig (Holly Hunter) ... hangs up -- takes the phone off the hook and lays it on the bed for a moment's solitude. She sits stiffly, palms on top of her legs. It looks like someone with unusually good posture, waiting for something, and now we BEGIN TO SEE the first signs ... and she begins to cry. Now she sobs -- then miraculously shakes it off and exits quickly to the bathroom. This crying episode is clearly part of her morning routine.

Pat Chace said...

You write really well, I thought your post was really good. Hallmark movies are made for people to cry, and if they didn't work they wouldn't be on TV. But you're right it's not real, what's real is that you're offering something to people who haven't lived Hallmark lives, and that's infinatly more important.