My husband texted me the other day to say that the film adaptation of A Monster Calls did not do so well at the box office financially.
"It's hard to market sad movies to kids," he said.
He's absolutely right. No one likes being sad on purpose.
OK, fine, except me.
For as long as I can remember, when I have had the opportunity to have the living space all to myself, I will make it a point to watch something other people don't want to watch: really f***ing sad movies. This includes Kramer vs. Kramer, Sophie's Choice, My Girl, etc. Sometimes I will force my poor husband to join me in this activity. He is still very bitter about making him watch The Fault in Our Stars, of which he gave the glowing review, "That was a great movie—I never want to see or talk about it again."
It's not fun to cry. Personally, my face gets red, my nose fills with snot, my eyes literally burn from the tears I'm shedding, and as the Tumblr kids like to say, I just "can't even." On the other hand, that emotional catharsis is something that we take for granted. We're always searching for how to be happier, to maintain a calm appearance at least 40 hours a week until we can get home and watch something funny to distract us from how miserable we were one (or more) day(s). No one is going to watch My Girl after a long day because he can’t see without his glasses, omg!!!
Sometimes we need to be tricked in order to really feel something. No spoilers, but Star Wars: Rogue One is a very good and recent example of this. (Yeah, I'm looking at you Star Wars: Rogue One! My feels, man! My FEELS!) But then you leave the theater emptied of all the bad that happens and you somehow feel better. Sure, your boss may be waiting for you on Monday with a huge stack of papers, but at least you're not the little girl at the end of Pan's Labyrinth! (Yes, that was a spoiler for Pan’s Labyrinth. Sorry, bro. It came out 10 years ago. If you haven’t seen it within 10 years, it was not high on your to-do list.)
More importantly, you connected to a very human part of yourself. I'm depressive, but that doesn't mean I cry all the time. It's more like the part of Inside Out where the emotion control center shuts down, and the character Riley is just sort of numb to everything. The ability to laugh, cry, rage, fear... it keys you into parts of yourself that you try to ignore, but are so essentially you. Because it's once you get in touch with that part of yourself that you can move on and make jokes about it. Tragedy and comedy—the difference is timing and whether or not Kevin Kline has a mustache.
I highly recommend being sad for a brief period of time. Preferably due to a fictional circumstance that lasts about two hours or less. And with something to cuddle with... maybe a pet. A stuffed animal is also acceptable. No judging.
KC Ryan is an improv graduate turned Sketch Writing Level 2 student. When she’s not working at the day job, she is a writer and podcaster for everything that combines feminism, comedy, theatre, and nerdery. She also performs in the puppet improv troupe Empty Inside.