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Clapping and Crying

About a week ago, we had a discussion in my African American Woman Writer's course about the background music. In this case, a man pulled along his wife across this large property because she wanted her dowry that her brother wouldn't give her. He finally decided to give in after her persistance but that didn't stop him from turning his angry emotions at her. All the while, the background music played a nice and happy melody while the whole town followed them on there journey. One time, she fell a woman approached the man asking him if he wanted her stick in order to beat the woman for her bad behavior. of course this scene created a sense of disturbing throughout the classroom but also brought some chuckles. After watching the clip, someone mentioned the chuckling and we started talking about the laugh track - that background audience clapping that is placed in a scene where the writers, producers, or whoever want you to laugh.
I, myself, have seen it over and over; when people are uncomfortable about something they tend to turn towards laughter to cover it up. I can't lie I was constantly tempted to smile throughout the scene even though I knew how disgusted I was with it. I feel like it's engrained in our culture. It comes up in scary movies especially. People like to mix horror with laugher to balance out the emotions. Of course the Scary Movies series dominates the horror with comedy and maybe a little bit of ridiculousness, but the comedy is there. I feel like the phrase "laugh it off" has seeped past getting a bruised knee and manning it up to a way to respond to situations that make people unsettled. I'm trying hard to not act that way but it's not as easy as it seems.
Thinking about laugh tracks and the way people respond to movies in general, it made me also think about how men react to romantic movies. Sometime in the past month I watched The Last Station. I had a deeply emotional reaction to that movie and I feel like the rest of us did as well. I watched it with three guys and almost the entire time they were sidetrack, commenting on the movie or commenting on some topic that sprung from the movie. I feel part of that came from the fact that they felt uncomfortable feeling so much from that movie. I could be wrong but I think men react the way they do to romantic films just like people laugh when they are faced with an uncomfortable situation. I think watching a emotionally engaging movie with friends of both genders is difficult because our culture pushes men away from expressing those feelings. You know they need to be a man, strong, and be in control of his emotions. At first I wasn't too happy that they kept interupting the movie but I think that maybe I was a little to harsh. They can't help it.
Rethinking this through, I think I can work with this in my novel. So far I've wanted this focus on emotion and emotional repression that Evelyn has. This will probably play a bigger role with in the real world relationship because I feel like there is nothing pressure in the new world to expose her nerves. This is good stuff.

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June 2012
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