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25 September 2012 @ 06:07 pm
Why is it wrong to be happy?  

We caught the last 40 minutes or so of “Singing in the Rain” on TV the other night. A couple of things really struck me about Gene Kelly’s performance, his body language, and his actions.

The first bit that caught me was when they’re dubbing the vocals for the film-within-the-film. Debbie Reynolds is singing, and Gene Kelly comes to sit at her feet and gaze up at her adoringly. It’s completely sappy, goopy, delightful, and sweet.

I cannot imagine seeing it in a modern film. I can’t imagine seeing the male lead sitting at his partner’s feet, gazing up at her in what we today would likely see as submissive, feminine regard.

And then there’s the titular dance number, which, holy beans, guys, if you haven’t seen it lately, go watch it again. It’s really just the most extraordinarily open, honest, joyful expression of love imaginable…and again, it’s almost impossible to envision a modern male lead performing it with no hint of self-consciousness. I mean, nevermind the actual skill necessary to do the dance: I can barely fathom a modern movie actor opening himself up and showing that kind of pure *joy*.

Misery, yes. It’s not that actors don’t present vulnerability, but they almost exclusively do it in sorrow, rage, desperation, tragedy. It’s all misery, never joy. And I was just talking about this to Mom, who said, “I don’t think happy is lauded much. We’re very much into being pleased with others’ pain so we can feel better about ourselves. “At least I’m not as badly off as THAT guy.”"

And she’s completely right, of course, and I know it, but seriously, what is wrong with being happy? What’s wrong with working toward being happy, with applauding others’ successes and taking joy in them, in seeing what someone else can do and being inspired by it? What’s wrong with being joyful and open and being willing to show you’re excited or in love or want to dance?

I mean, forgive me for going all John Lennon on you, but imagine if people spent half as much energy on being happy as they do on being miserable. It frustrates the hell out of me that we *don’t*. The world needs joy a lot more than it needs any added misery, so why, for the love of frogs, don’t people focus on that?

(x-posted from the essential kit)

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UrsulaVursulav on September 25th, 2012 06:01 pm (UTC)
Leaving aside that the happiness thing seems somehow counter to the Protestant work ethic, I think part of the problem is that happiness doesn't seem permanent enough. We get stories of 'happily ever after' not 'hey, I'm happy right this second.' We expect stuff to make us happy FOREVER AND EVER and have very little experience with letting ourselves be happy at the moment (or frankly, even noticing "hey! I'm happy right now! How 'bout that?") And yet happiness is inherently a thing of the present, and you can't bank it for the future.

Misery, on the other hand, bangs on the door all the damn time.
kitmizkit on September 26th, 2012 09:21 am (UTC)
I think happiness bangs on the door a lot, too, but people are so damned determined to be miserable they don't see it. But yes, you're no doubt right.