I asked my Facebook readers if they like books and movies that make them cry. I found the answers fascinating because there were so many different takes on the subject. Some people feel manipulated by a writer if they’re moved to tears. Others like a little tear-jerkiness as long as they don’t feel manipulated. Still others think a good cry means the author or screenwriter has done a good job.
A few people prefer laughter to tears when reading a book or watching a movie, and some don’t care whether they laugh or cry as long as they feel something. A few want to read for escape, period, which means no tears, thank you very much.
All of this made me ponder my own feelings about what I read or watch. I enjoy comedy, but I’m more drawn to drama, as you could guess if you’ve ever read my books. I do love a good cry, but if I feel manipulated I will be annoyed, and the writer had better not harm so much as a toenail of an animal and if she can leave out the Holocaust and all other forms of man’s inhumanity to man, even better.
I like subtlety–the tears that catch me unawares. The gentle relationship between Julia and Paul Child in Julie and Julia, for example. The joyous reunion of Jamal and Latika in Slumdog Millionaire. The tender scene in A Beautiful Mind where Alicia tells John she needs to believe “something extraordinary is possible.” I’ve wept during any number of scenes in books like Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife, Kathryn Stockett’s The Help, and Marisa de los Santos’ light-but-touching Belong to Me. Those books and movies will stay with me for a long, long time because of the emotion I felt as I enjoyed them.
That’s the bottom line, isn’t it? Enjoyment? What do you turn to for your reading and viewing pleasure? Do you prefer to be moved to tears or laughter. . . or both?