I've been thinking about this for a while. I can't honestly say I've come to any conclusions, but I'd like to understand so I'm throwing it to the Universe and you fine people.
Pop culture--popular fiction, television series and movies--is dominated with happy endings. Maybe not super happy endings, but ending in such a way as we can consider it a somewhat happy ending. Good for those two people who survived the end of the world. Yay, William Wallace's death wasn't for nothing, we have a happy(ish) epilogue bit. So, in my mind, and certainly by my tastes, a happy ending of some sort is all but required.
But not so much with music. Love songs? Most of these are not happy ditties. They're sad. Broken-hearted. Sometimes of the Good Riddance--You Suck Anyway variety, or the You Should Go Out With Me format. But, I can probably name all the happy love songs I know on one hand.
I don't know why. Is it due to the length of time these forms of entertainment run. We're only willing to commit 2+ hours to things that have a somewhat happy ending, but we can handle four minutes of heartache?
I saw a documentary that likened the first human speech to birdsong, and I can only imagine how unbearably cheerful that would have been. Especially for delivering bad news. *happychirp*Grandma got eaten by a bear in the cave where she liked to finger paint!*chirpchirp* Did a thousand years of happy chirps irritate people so much we evolved to prefer the more melancholy melodies?
Okay, so maybe I'm being an idiot there at the end--I do that-- but really, I'd like to understand the psychological drive that wants happy stories and unhappy songs.
well, there's no such perfect life in this world. people needs to be hurt in order for them to learn their mistakes and they also deserves to be happy for them to be motivated too. it's also like music. happy music and a sad music :)ReplyDelete
@Jeremy: Oh, there's definitely a place for sad stuff in all forms of art, and I think that the stuff that explores pain is probably more moving than the other way around. It's just peculiar to me that music(pardon my pun) hits that note so consistently when folks tend to prefer (at least quasi-)happy endings in other pop mediums. Even horror usually has some kind of ending that allows relief -- not always, but more often than not.Delete
I think when you're watching a movie, you get invested in the characters and want to know what happens to them. But a song isn't about characters (okay, sometimes, you know what I mean) and I bet there's also something to do with music in there too. Interesting question though!ReplyDelete
@Jackie: I didn't think about the character aspect. I'll have to think about that more. You know, if I don't get distracted by something shiny and start contemplating how processed cheese gets into those little plastic wrappers. (Yes, that's happened before... though I can't remember what lead me to seek the info online and read about the machines that do it. Oy.)Delete
Off the top of my head, I do think that we identify with character, though. In movies/books, it's an actual character, and in non-instrumentals it's the vocalist (At least I do, and boy can a song bring me to tears faster than a stubbed-toe. But, I still prefer'm sad...)
Fascinating question! Glad I stopped by your blog at Aimee Duffy's recommendation. My guess (and this is after having thought about it for maybe 30 seconds tops) is that moods are easier to pull down than lift up. If a song is about how happy the singer is, I'm likely to change the song unless my mood already matches theirs. Happiness can be irritating or obnoxious. However, if a song is very emotional, violins crying and piano weeping, I'm a lot more likely to sink down to the mood of the song and feel that I got something emotionally valuable out of it. A film has a lot more time to play with our mood, start us off in some midrange emotion, hook us, then jerk us around from there. Then, because of everything "we've" been through, we can genuinely feel the happy ending. Whereas when songs end happily, it leaves less of an impact than heartache. That's all one big guess, when I really should have said I have no idea!ReplyDelete
@Madeline: I think you and Jackie are onto the same thing: identifying with the medium is imperative. And really, happiness can be irritating. There are whole genres of music devoted to feeling like crap and having life slap you silly. As far as I know, no one sings the Pinks or the Yellows, just the Blues. If anyone doubts that happy songs can be irritating, all they need to do is sing selected works from The Sound of Music at someone who's trying to sleep or work. They get really irritated. Really really irritated.Delete
I am not sure I have come to any further conclusions, but ya'l have given me something more to think about. Glad you stopped by, too(Yay, Aimee!)! I wasn't really looking for links to wikipedia pages with the answer, I'm all about the opinions. So, thanks!