So I may not have created an entirely honest impression with last week’s Stupid Question.
I describe a scene in “Raising Arizona”:
I mention the final scene and those two moments in particular because they will, without fail, make me cry. Not outright bawling, mind you, but definitely watering eyes and runny nose.
And one in Infinite Jest:
The only other sure-fire trigger I can think of for the water works is a two-word sentence spoken by Joelle van Dyne to Don Gately after a Major Plot Occurrence in Infinite Jest.
I kinda maybe fudged a bit on the “only other” bit. While technically true that these two scenes are the only 100% reliable triggers for media-induced crying, there are plenty of others that either usually make me cry, or haven’t been field-tested with sufficient frequency to establish the certainty of their effect.
I’m pretty sure that every Pixar film I’ve seen (in its entirety, at least) has at least one scene that will probably make me cry. Given the right circumstances, certain songs are likely to make me choke up — when we get to the “Never dreamed you’d return” bit from Pearl Jam’s “Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town,” random moments in U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found When I’m Looking For” or “All My Friends” by LCD Soundsystem. I’ve only seen “Schindler’s List” once, but considering that I reached near-dehydration levels of fluid loss through my tear ducts the first time I saw it, a second viewing would almost certainly get a similar response.
It turns out that I am ridiculously susceptible to media manipulation of my emotions. If the director scribbles “viewer will choke up here” on his copy of the script, chances are I will choke up there. It’s why I refuse to watch horror movies, of course. The movie says “be scared,” and I actually feel scared. Since I find the sensation of terror viscerally unpleasant (nigh unbearable), I cannot fathom the appeal of sitting through them.
Every so often I’ll see a movie that somehow manages to miss the mark. I know I was supposed to cry at the end of “The Joy Luck Club,” but somehow didn’t. (Having written that, I will probably collapse into a blob of sobbing protoplasm if I should happen to see it again.) But more often than not I’ll mist up if I’m meant to.
The movie that made this particularly, irritatingly apparent was the big-screen adaptation of “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.” Now, the book on which it is based is among my favorites in the whole wide world. I adore the entire “Chronicles of Narnia,” and have read the whole thing over a dozen times at least. And I hated everything about the movie that is not Tilda Swinton. (And OK, the big climactic battle scenes at the end are pretty good, too.) Every time I catch part of it, I dislike it even more. But for some reason we decided to watch when we came upon it midway through on television the other day.
And even though I don’t like the movie and think the kids who played the Pevensie children were poorly cast (with an arguable exception about Lucy) and think the CGI Aslan was wholly unimpressive, damned if I didn’t choke up when he said “Once a king or queen of Narnia, always a king or queen!” Which I found so embarrassing I tried to cover it up by making fun of how lame the scene was, fooling the Better Half not the slightest little bit.
I am ridiculously manipulable by the media overlords, people.
So that’s this week’s Question — anyone willing to cop to psychological weak spots? Chinks in the armor you use to face the world? Those little vulnerabilities that remind you you’re human?