I warn you not to take the headline literally. Your cynical heartholes will stay anatomically intact, so don’t you worry. But it’ll feel pretty much like stuffed animals and rainbows after you finish watching those rays of sunshine in movie form (contrary to common belief there is no such thing as ‚too many analogies‘). At first it will seem like you’re about to be showered with kitschy, schmaltzy sugar and your jaded mind is probably going to make up thousands of snarky tweets as you descent (or ascent?) into genuine bliss. But it’ll pass. So for the sake of your heart, I advise you to consider watching those movies and let them heal your inner Scrooge. Unironically.
Now this is a weird thing to say about a show that has some strong language, sexual innuendo and lost of graphic (though cartoony) gore and carnage. But hear me out. As a kid I watched a lot (A LOT!) of television. I don’t even know when I had time to do that while also attending kindergarten, school and after school center. But I somehow managed to devour every singele cartoon there was. That is clearly hyberbole but I challenge you to find an 80s/90s cartoon’s theme song I can’t sing along to. So naturally I had my favourite episodes. And thinking back, the episodes that I can still vividly recall are the dark, weird and twisted Halloween-style ones (from a child’s perspective, though. I don’t dare watching them today and find out that they’re all actually rainbows and lollipops).
I’m taking about the time Winnie the Pooh and his gang discover that things you put under your bed get lost in a dark dust world that is ruled by an evil slime monster. Or the episode in Bonkers where we get to know the pencil-fingered dude that lives in the canalisation or the sheep that invades Bonkers‘ dreams. Lies mehr …
Millions of readers and viewers have devoured the Hunger Games books and movies over last last couple of years. It’s a fascinating dystopy where the sparkling but cruel Capitol reigns over 12 districts. The Capitol is a glamourous parallel society with weirdly dressed citizens and a questionable taste in entertainment. Under this thick layer of fun and glamour lies exploitation and oppression of the poor. I wonder where Suzanne Collins got the idea for this particular scenario? Well, the lame explanation is that she is just a very creative author mixing science-fiction element with social criticism. Boo-hooo, lame indeed! What I think is that Suzanne Collins spend a lazy sunday afternoon watching Battle Royale followed by Zoolander and created her own crossover fanfiction. The similarities to Battle Royale have been pointed out often enough (just google it). So let’s look at Zoolander as a secret Hunger Games sequel, shall we?
I was feeling a bit silly after this…thing that is Sherlock series 3. So I made a Sherlock themed Bingo card to pass the time while watching His Last Vow next sunday.
Rules are simple:
If something on the Bingo card corresponds with what you see on television (tablet, PC etc.) or if it resonates with your emotions watching His Last Vow, eliminate the key phrase/meme from the card.
If you have 5 in a row/column/diagonal you win. If something happens that is clearly for the tumblr .gif community + you don’t appreciate it + John is is telling Sherlock he loves him very much + there is a cliffhanger which has nobody dying + someone (probably Sherlock) says at some point „The Game is on!“, you have a Bingo!. Doesn’t seem so impossible, does it?
Play with yourself or against other people.
„The Game is….Bingo!“
Yesterday I wished somebody a happy birthday. With all my heart, I hugged him and felt sorry that I didn’t know it was his birthday. Only thing is, it wasn’t his birthday at all and so I made a fool of myself. I could have been angry at him for misleading me this way or laughing it away for the silly thing that it was (which I did). But underneath I felt something that seems to be a key ingredient for comedy nowadays: Embarrasment and Awkwardness.
So it got me thinking about our masochistic delight in feeling embarressment and shame for the misbehaviour/pain of someone else. In Germany we have the perfect word for this feeling, Fremdschämen, which is an equally spot on description of a feeling as Schadenfreunde and Weltschmerz (praise our compound nouns!) are. But where Schadenfreude benefits from its inherent feeling of superiority over the subject we’re laughing at, it’s the opposing element of empathy that makes the sensation Fremdschämen not a very pleasant one by default. So why is it that comedies including one of the most exported comedies in recent years (The Office) is presmised on the general cringeworthyness we feel for the protagonists?
„Comedy is tragedy plus time“
Whoever said the quote above, hits the nail right on the head. We’ll laugh about it later probably is one of the most used consolation phrases. And it’s true, every mistake can turn out to be a hilarious anecdote in retrospect. Remember the time I called my teacher mommy in class? Remember when I mistook that stranger for a dear friend and greeted him inappropriately? Time doesn’t make the awkward feeling go away when you recall the events even if it happened to someone else but it eases the immediacy of the pain and makes it funny. We’ve all been in those situations so we can all empathize with them if they happen to someone else. In television it’s a little different, I think. Awkwardness is only funny as long as long as the protagonist isn’t aware of the fact that he’s or she’s making a complete fool of him-/herself. The sadness and loneliness underneath redeems characters like David Brent, Stuart Pritchard and Bernd Stromberg who otherwise would be total dicks. They are unaware that they are in fact lonely , incompetent, inappropriate and embaressing. You feel for them because you know they’re lonely and sad deep inside and laugh because they don’t know it.
In Hello Ladies Stuart, played by Stephen Merchant, is constantly trying to get laid with women who are clearly out of his league. Or as Wikipedia put it more romantically: „It stars Merchant as an Englishman looking for love in modern Los Angeles“. His self-perception is off the charts and he is embaressing himself so much that I literally had to cover my eyes (though ears would be the more appropriate solution) while watching. Just like a good horror movie. It’s in those rare moments where he rides home alone or is his charming self around his friend Jessica when you start forgiving his delusions. If he knew he was a screwup we’d have depressing Leaving Las Vegas and not a comedy. Stuart’s undaunted enthusiasm makes it a comedy. so you could argue that not only comedy = tragedy + time but also comedy = tragedy + oblivion.
The bottom line is, to feel awkward for another human being, fictional or not, “ is to have a more intense awareness of the presence of others, to see as if from a distance the rules and relationships that bind us together or keep us apart.“ (Cutterham) Isn’t that beautiful?