It was Josie Long who told me it was called crying porn. When the phrase comes into conversation, there is an initial look of suspicion, a pause filled with the gurglings of perturbed imagination and the hope that whatever these words mean will be a relief, not a reason to cancel an association or friendship.
What is in your mind?
While pornography hopes to create lust, crying porn hopes to make you sad (which the existence of the standard porn industry might do to you anyway). It is songs, film scenes, poetry or narrative, that brings forth tears. It is resorted to when someone may have skipped emotion during the day to day running of their life, but now feels the desire to be moved to tears.
After being stoical at a funeral, once away from the pews and back home, you might feel that you should have cried a little, so you manipulate yourself with art.
For many people, the first ten minutes of Pixar’s Up is very effective (not be confused with Russ Meyer’s Up!, which falls a little closer into primary porn category). Terms of Endearment crops up amongst the middle aged, as well as similar endeavors such as Beaches. Tom Hanks has made a few, though Bachelor Party is not amongst them, though Philadelphia and Saving Private Ryan may make the list. Philadelphia is helped by being bookended by Bruce Springsteen’s sparse, hoarse disease confessional and Neil Young’s funeral song.
For some of my generation, mercenary thriller The Wild Geese would make it into crying porn category too. I think I may merely be very tired, but have found that the last two times I talked about one scene I welled up a little, and on stage too.
Starring Richard Harris, Richard Burton, Hardy Kruger and Roger Moore, it is all about a mercenary mission going wrong due to the venality of Stewart Granger (bloody Stewart Granger). Poor Richard Harris, playing a highly ethical mercenary and single dad, nearly makes it all the way through the mission as almost everyone else dies around him. About to reach the plane of escape, he is shot in the knee and demands his best friend Burton shoots him so he is not unceremoniously hacked to pieces by some very cross people.
That scene may be crying porn enough, with the obligatory orchestral surge to manipulate adeptly, but it is the earlier scene where he doesn’t hear his son say he loves him that will cause a dad to emotionally stumble.
Parenthood leads to being surprised by sentences suddenly creating a surge of emotions. Sometimes it will merely be the potency of cheap soap opera moments combined with a cello, or a headline that leads to pity.
Backstage at a comedy gig last week, Jo Brand and I were talking of children, it reminded me of a newspaper story about an accident that led to the death of a six year old, as the words came out, I welled up and stopped mid-sentence.
It must be the sleep.
What is it about the potency of cinema and music that makes us more susceptible than reality? Does the news need more cello? (no, it is close enough to that already – “don’t forget, being momentarily upset by current affairs is now considered an action up there with being a poet going into the Spanish Civil War).
What of crying porn songs?
For some it may be Foreigner’s I Want to Know What Love Is, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ Into My Arms, or Billy Bragg’s Tank Park Salute.
Who are the great actors of crying porn?
I would nominate Julianne Moore for Magnolia and The End of the Affair.
and there’s Ricky Schroeder in The Champ, not my cup of tea, but I know it worked for many, I would rather have Takeshi Kitano in Hana-Bi. I remember watching Takeshi’s Dolls and the woman I was sat next to wept all the way through. Another honorable mention for Takeshi’s final scene with Tom Conti in Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence.
And there’s Spartacus being shown his baby as he is dying on a cross.
And The Fisher King
And Edward Scissorhands
And Robert Donat and Greer Garson in Goodbye Mr Chips…
And as I write this, 24 Hours in A&E has started. I don’t watch much TV, but I always have time for this, humanity often at it’s best. Better get ready to be moved and warmed by an old couple facing drama, confusion and, hopefully, vanquishing death on this occasion…uh oh, here we go again.
feel free to comment below with your choices.
I am off to Edinburgh with a new show where I will reveal too much of my brain HERE
My new tour, with added Grace Petrie, will go across England, Ireland and Wales (a bit of Norway, but no USA or Australia until 2015), dates HERE