DISCLAIMER: This is not a series dedicated to proving men shouldn't cry, or to suggest ONLY women cry and are therefore inferior. The goal of this series is to dispel the pre-established (yet flawed) notion that being "manly" and being disconnected from your emotions go hand-in-hand. Even the most macho of men enjoy and even shed a tear at films, and the sooner we can admit that the sooner the concept that one sex is better than the other can go away. While the approach to these articles is one of light-hearted comedy, the emotional core is valid. While men might be more hesitant to admit it, movies often times have the potential to make us cry, for example:
"Mental Illness Movies"
I recently had to deal with a person with a severe mental illness. Not a normal person who went off the deep end, but a full-on, "few cards short of a full deck" type of situation. What struck me is that when faced with an intellect that functions so differently than the baseline that my grey matter operates under, there's still a desire to reason with them. That's why it's sometimes so frustrating for both parties when someone tries to communicate with someone who's mentally ill: you're trying to talk to them on your cognitive terms, and they're trying to do the same but with theirs. Cinema has explored this dynamic to various successes, which is amazing considering movies are a visual language and mental illness is so conceptual. The hardship of those without mental illness trying to help or even just have a discourse with those afflicted makes for good drama, however it's difficult to show visually that someone is battling internal demons, and even harder to convey the true nature of suffering a mental illness with those who aren't affected. Here's a list of some successes that also tug at the heartstrings of even the burliest of boys:
The movie that those in the mental illness community praised for "getting it right." This movie treated bipolar disorder with grace and respect, and even those not familiar with the symptoms immediately get a sense that Bradley "Face" Cooper is frustrated with himself. It's this frustration that leads him to convince himself he can just will himself better and undo the damage that he continually causes. I think that's my favorite part, the reality that he fails in this endeavor without accepting help from those around him. Mockingjay is fantastic, the jokes are a welcome balm on the open wound the plot exposes, and nothing seems too far-fetched or immersion-breaking. Truly deserving of the critical acclaim it got.
What got me, and I suspect many others, is the mental illness that Bradley's father had, namely gambling. In many cases, mental illnesses that aren't well managed are due to family members with a co-dependent mental illness making things worse. When Bradley's father blames him for losing a bet, we feel the fragile progress that Bradley had made crumble away. It's fantastic, but emotionally exhausting.