Why Do We Love Movies that Make Us Cry?

Why is it that we humans willingly submit ourselves to the pain of a sad story? We spend hours watching movies like A Walk to Remember and reading books like The Fault in our Stars, even if we already know the plot is going to end badly. Moreover, tragic characters themselves seem to have a certain appeal. We find ourselves secretly rooting for their redemption. Many times I have caught myself longing for the kind of story line that I have just mentioned, and it got me to thinking, “why?”

Tragedy has a special power over us. Writers create these stories because they know they can influence our emotions in ways that comedy may not. The most common tropes of tragedy – the death of a loved one, the loss of a relationship, or the character that is beyond salvation – leave every fiber of our being screaming out for something better, something happier. Because we are created in the image of Christ, the idea of perfection is ingrained deep within us. Our world is fallen, but our souls cry out for more. When we see something sad, we subconsciously know it isn’t meant to be like that; it’s a result of the eternal striving for heaven that God created in us. The typical reaction to tragedy is twofold: usually, we cry or get upset first because the inherent wrongness of the situation irks us to the core. Then, we seek change. We plot how the story might have turned out if the characters had just done this or that instead. For this same reason, when we do watch happy movies or read happy books, we feel a sense of satisfaction when the story has a happy ending.

The wonderful thing about literature, including tragedy, is that it mirrors the real world. However, in the real world, we do actually have some power to create change. There are some things that we simply cannot conquer in our fallen world, like death and sin, but we, unlike fictional characters, have the freedom of choice. We can learn from the mistakes made by these characters so that we don’t have to make them ourselves. This is why I think we continually submit ourselves to tragedy: it can inspire change. When a writer brings a problem to our attention that leaves tears running down our faces, we can and should do something about it.

Written by Taylor Hayden

Image credit

Advertisements

Get’ch’a Head In the Game!

“Coach said to fake right
And break left
Watch out for the pick
And keep an eye on defense
Gotta run the give and go
And take the ball to the hole
Like an old school pro
He said, ‘Don’t be afraid’
What you waitin’ on?
To shoot the outside ‘J'”

Zac Effron. “Get’cha Head In the Game.” In High School Musical. Directed by Kenny Ortega, Disney Channel, 2006.

Dear writers who’ve been on the bench in the game of writing,

In the words of High School Musical, “get your head in the game!” For out-of-practice writers, sharpening writing skills can be easily achieved through more reading, more planning, more writing, and more believing.

Study the game!

Most members spend post-practice hours with their eyes glued to TV and computer screens as they study the moves of successful basketball games and MVP’s from years past. While there may be some sense of entertainment and pleasure, most of this is study: team members studying others. Every jump-shot, alley-oop, and cross-over is on replay as they study the moves of their predecessors finding ways to imitate them. The goal is to improve the craft of the game. The same technique can be applied to writers looking to improve their craft as well. Every newspaper, fictional story, pressing excerpt, and Shakespearean read improves the writing skills of the reader. Although the reader is simply reading, s/he is processing interesting writing structures, illustrative phraseologies, and other techniques that they may recreate. Each reading experience is a new example for an individual to study writing- study the game.

Prepare!

Before every game, players are making “ball their lives.” They eat protein-dense meals, workout, and take ice-baths. Bent like pretzels and other weird shapes across gym floors, each player stretches their taffy-like limbs in preparation for a good game. They rehearse clever, point-scoring plays and strong defense tactics again and again, plotting the moves of their opponents. Writers too, must prepare to write. Not in the sharp pencil, fresh sheet of paper kind of way! Writers must know their audience, desired topic, and theme. Like ‘ball players must consider the moves of their opponents, writers must also consider the reactions of their readers. When writing, one must anticipate questions the reader may ask or topics that may need further detail for him or her to understand. One needs a game plan for a great game, and a writer needs a plan for a great paper. Prepare!

Practice, Practice, Practice!

Players spend hours on-end practicing the game of basketball. They often attend camps for faster moving on the court, dribbling with both hands, and defending their positions against bigger players. A team may split off and have scrimmages or practice games against one another. Day and night, players practice to maintain and gain skill in the game of b-ball. Similarly, writers must practice writing to maintain and gain skill. Practicing allows writers to retain grammar rules, correct sentence structure, and pen a clear flow of ideas. Writers also find that this practice increases their confidence in writing and makes for an easier writing process each time, as they are able to see progression with each experience.

Believe!

Lastly, there must be more believing in the writer. The last thing basketball teams do before the beginning of the game is recite a series of chants that give them the confidence they need to do their best. Think High School Musical’s Chad Danforth (Corbin Bleu), pumping up the team by loudly asking, “What team? Wildcats,” numerous times until they were excited. Writers don’t have to take such an intense approach, but they do need to believe in their writing abilities and themselves.

Review the game plan: one must read, plan, write, and believe. Get’cha head in the game!

Written by Ashley

Image credit

Door Number Three

For the longest time, my favorite part of the movie National Treasure[1] was the beautiful moment when Riley hugs the bluish green man with the strange goatee. I’ve always found that gesture to be pretty relatable because I’d like to think that if I were in that situation, I’d react the exact same way. A few months ago, though, a different scene became my favorite because, of all things, it drastically rocked my prayer life. It’s not a big moment, so if you weren’t paying attention, you might have missed it. In this scene, Ben Gates has just been arrested for stealing the Declaration of Independence (among other treasonous crimes) but the document, and the real bad guy, Ian, are still at large. He and FBI agent, Sadusky, are having a little chat.

Agent Sadusky: So, here are your options: Door number one—you go to prison for a very long time. Door number two—we’re going to get back the Declaration of Independence; you help us find it, and you still go to prison for a very long time. But you’ll feel better inside.

Ben Gates: Is there a door that doesn’t lead to prison?

Agent Sadusky: [Laughing.] Someone’s got to go to prison, Ben.

This is a perfect illustration of my former prayer life. Thankfully, none of my doors have ever led to prison, but with the kind of attitude I had towards prayer, I might as well have put myself in a spiritual penitentiary.  When I brought things before the Lord, I presented Him with choices, my choices. For example, if I was faced with a difficult decision I would assess the situation, develop different strategies, and then ask God to help me chose the right one. If I or someone else in my life was facing a trial, I would ask the Lord for a resolution to the situation or strength to survive until the end. I never asked Him to show me His direction for my decisions; I just acted surprised and amazed when things ultimately worked out better than I had anticipated. I never considered that trials might need to carry on or that there might be blessings within the storm; I just asked God to take me to the other side. Like Agent Sadusky, I saw minimal choices with even fewer end results.

Don’t misinterpret my point—God wants us to ask Him for things, it’s a biblical concept (Matt. 7:7, Jn. 16:24, Phil 4:6). But chances are, if you’re like me and you have a tendency to pray only for the things you can see, the dreams you can envision, or the plans you can create, you’re limiting your understanding of who God is. His thoughts are not our thoughts, which means His ways are not our ways; He promises to go above and beyond anything that we could ever imagine (Is. 55:8-9, Eph. 3:20). He invites—no, commands us—to pray like we believe these things to be true about His character.

God is not a God of two doors. He is not a God of three doors either, but even then, National Treasure still has a thing or two to remind us about prayer. “Sadusky,” Ben says later in the movie, looking out from the deck of the U.S.S. Intrepid, preparing to jump, “I found door number three, and I’m taking it.” Spoiler alert (I told you to go watch it): Ben’s door didn’t lead to prison. It led to fame, new discoveries about American history, money, and a cute wife. If you take that metaphor too seriously, it becomes the prosperity Gospel, but if you look at the big picture, it should encourage you to pray with faith. God doesn’t need our suggestions or solutions; He already has eternity under control, and it’s going to be a lot more awesome than if you and I planned it out. What He wants is for us to honestly pour out our hearts in prayer and surrender them completely to His will. So even if you can’t see it, the next time you pray, no matter what’s on your heart, pray for door number three.

“Behold, I am about to do something new; even now it has begun. Can you not see it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the wasteland” (Is. 43:19).

[1] If you haven’t seen the movie National Treasure I’m going to have to politely ask you to stop reading my blog and go take care of that real quick. It’s on Netflix, so you have no excuse. I’ll be here when you get done in two hours and eleven minutes.

Written by Savanna

Image credit: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/95/d6/92/95d69258e8edd909a53b11db3ba7a8de.jpg

Quote credit: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0368891/quotes