Tuesday, April 24, 2007


Tonight, after coming home from the gym, I watched Steel Magnolias. It happened to be on TV, and though I knew watching it would be a gut-wrenching, painful experience, I couldn't help but curl up and surrender to the whole thing. I suppose that's a funny way to describe one of your favorite movies, and Steel Magnolias is just that--a movie I saw for the first time when I was ten and terribly homesick at summer camp, and I fell in love with it instantly: beautiful, young, tragically ill Julia Roberts, the women's close friendships, the lovely southernness of it all ( very exotic for a born and bred New Yorker!) My sister and I watched it again, and again, memorized all the lines, and would toss one or two into our daily conversation ("Pink is my signature color!" being my favorite). And,without fail, the ending would always, ALWAYS choke me up.

I'm not a big crier at the movies. I don't know why. I'll sob and wallow when I'm having an emotional crisis in my life (or sometimes--probably hormone-related--for no reason at all). But rarely do tragedies on the screen elicit tears. Except for Steel Magnolias. It gets me almost every time, and as much as it makes my heart contract and makes me think about all the people in my life who I love (see? I'm getting sappy just writing about it!), I kind of enjoy it at the same time.

What is it that we love about tearjerkers? Terms of Endearment, Ghost, It's a Wonderful Life...seeing these films, many of us know we are going to be weeping copiously, but at the same time we crave that. Does crying at movies provide some sort of catharsis, a way for us to release the sorrows of everyday life via a fictional character? Tears after all can be very healing (and I hate it when people say it's a woman thing -- I know guys who cry at movies, too!) I'll never forget an old Grey's Anatomy episode I saw that had me sobbing out loud. But I slept well that night and woke up refreshed in the morning.

For me, tearjerkers translate to books, too. In some ways, the best writing should leave us misty-eyed at the end, not just because of the emotional rush, but because we're a little sad to see the story close. RoCom writers that we are, we're really not in the business of making our readers cry (though there are so many sweet/bittersweet moments in all the RoComs I've read). But what are some people's favorite tearjerkers (books or movies?). Has your own writing ever made you cry? (and, no, not because you thought it was awful--but Lord knows I have BEEN THERE).

In any case, I am off to now watch something more light-hearted. Or perhaps I'll call up my sister so we can recite lines from Steel Magnolias and make each other laugh.


Wendy Toliver said...

Hi Aimee,
Great post! I have to say I'm envious of you for not being a big crier at movies. Unfortunately, I'm a huge crier. I'll never forget (and my husband won't let me)the time I saw Of Mice and Men in a little college theater. I'm sure the theather folks thought I needed to go to the hospital or something! I'm a big laugher too, and when I first saw American Pie, I had to peel myself off the soda-sticky, popcorn-littered theater floor.

Micol Ostow said...

I am the exact opposite of you Aimee--almost NEVER cry in real life, but sob incessantly for all TV and movies (seriously. Like, even Laguna Beach. I have a PROBLEM). I think it's just what you said--total catharsis.

Actually, N put a moratorium on Grey's Anatomy for me just after my grandfather died because the whole hospital stuff (and especially when Izzy sat "shiva") would make me WEEP. Oy. (But in a good way).

Anonymous said...

The only movies that can make me weep are Heidi (the 1990's version), and don't ask why, I remember watching when I was younger and I'd just cry my eyes out!! Titanic, although this was a recent thing, I've seen the movie a million times but one day when it was on TBS, and I was home alone, I just let loose!! And the Notebook, one of the best movies ever if you want a good cry. Though, I dont know why you would want to cry...