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Today's word on journalism

January 13, 2009


"I get the feeling that the 24-hour news networks are like the bus in the movie 'Speed.' If they stop talking for a second, they think they'll blow up."

--Jon Stewart, The Daily Show, 2008 (Thanks to alert WORDster Ross Martin)

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It's true! Chick flicks trigger curative tears

By Britta Anderson

December 11, 2008 | At the close of a rather difficult weekend, I decided I needed some girl time with Eurgelgrue, the ancient, remote-less television at my apartment. So I popped in P.S. I Love You and plopped down on the couch with my blanket and a couple slices of pizza.

Ten minutes into the movie I was a pathetic mess. I had mascara streaks down my face and had already made a nice puddle of tears on my pillow. Every time I thought I had gained composure, the scene would change and the tears would begin to pour over once more. I guess I'm just sensitive to hot Irish men, who, when they pass away, leave love letters and gifts for their widows to be delivered randomly throughout the year.

The average woman, when in a time of strife, will turn to a chick flick for support and an outlet for tears. Many women have used the excuse, "I just needed to cry." There is actually more truth to this than one would first expect.

In a study done by Wendy Norlund of Gibbs Magazine, she states that there are three types of tears, basal tears, which keep our eyes from drying out, reflex tears that make themselves known when our eyes get irritated, and emotional tears, which are caused by, well, our emotions. In her article titled, "Why We Laugh and Cry," she said, "Scientists have discovered that the emotional tears contain higher levels of manganese and the hormone prolactin, and this contributes in a reduction of both of these in the body; thus helping to keep depression away." This balancing of hormones is partly the reason why people (women, mostly) have found that crying actually calms them after being upset.

For some reason, many men don't understand this. Generally speaking, rather than seeing chick flicks as a healthy way for women to release pent up hormones and emotions, men see this genre of movie as giving women false ideas of romance and an unrealistic view on life. I've seen many chick flicks in my day, and I can honestly say that I don't believe that I will save a man who falls into a coma after being pushed onto some train tracks, and after posing as his fianceť, will fall in love with his brother and live happily ever after.

I will admit, however, that these movies do have an impact on how some women view romance. But rather than changing the minds of women from being sensible to insensible, these movies actually activate a latent predisposition that is in some women to believe in the fairy tale ending. If men want place blame for why some women have this perspective, look to the parents who raised them. The ones who taught them that they were princesses and would one day find a knight in shining armor that would carry them off into the sunset. Little girls are much more impressionable than adult women.

Another reason most women watch chick flicks is they see them as a way to escape for a time and be happy for someone who finds love in the end, or to mourn for the one who is left hurt. This is another thing a lot of men don't entirely understand. While men operate on a factual view on life, women operate on a relational view. Because of this, when women feel like their romantic life is a mess, they like to put in a romance movie and watch two people get together under unbeatable odds, so they can be happy for them. This does not mean they think this will happen to them. It's almost like living vicariously through another, except knowing that it's a movie and that what's happening on the screen can only take place in Hollywood.

Yes, many women are romantics, and yes, there are many of us who, as much as we try to deny it, have that very small part that will always wish that something magical will happen to them on Valentine's Day, or that some secret admirer will make himself known in a fantastic way. But as I said, it's only in the back of our minds and most women are logical enough to know better than to actually believe that any of it would ever take place.



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