I recently read a book that had Amazon’s review pages creaking and groaning. It just could not deal with all the heaps of praise and drudged along a bit moodily when you called upon the page to load. Naturally, when I started, I expected it to pull my attention given the huge fan base it had garnered. I was in for a shock. Not only did it not retain my attention, I found myself making excuses for not picking up the book. The book was dank, depressing and catered to the author’s almost pathological need to describe everything.
“He looked at his shoes. The brown leather had been cut a bit brashly along the edges, while the leather leading up to the laces were done alright; almost like the cobbler preferred the laces portion to the edges. The brown was a little too brown and on the dusty trails should have blended in, but the gathering dust on the shoes made his feet stand out. Shoes that large gathered a lot of dust.”
And on and on, he went about the dust and colours of the dust, and the patterns it made on the shoes(iff he decided not to take off on the cobbler somewhere near the lace section.) If this was his attitude toward brown shoes, he seemed to get even more excited with tragedies and dripped and dried our hearts out to dry.
Definitely not what the doctors prescribe for already depressing Januaries. I found myself moping about the house, after donating all the brown shoes I could lay my hands on, because that is what a depressing book does to me. It etches my senses down a couple of notches. It just goes to prove that one never knows what is it that people like and why. It is a known fact that humans love to watch suffering in their entertainment choices.
There is a name for it. It is called SCHADENFREUDE: enjoyment obtained from the troubles of others.
It is this that Indian soap opera producers tap into to get their daily bread. Watch any Tamil (or Indian) TV serial in the evening for a healthy dose of morbid fear and tears.
Which brings me to a fundamental question. One can hardly assume that a human being can put up with this much stress, mental agony and physical pain and still take the care to line their lips perfectly with lipstick, and pin their neatly ironed sarees while waiting for the next blow to strike them. I mean when I was reading Book One, I couldn’t even bothered to get out of my pajamas. It seemed too much of an effort.
The Schadenfreudian Principle may indicate that humans enjoy looking at troubled folks, but basic human research suggests that people subconsciously like beautiful people. The result is Indian evening entertainment. These women brave the most severe emotions – raging jealousy, copious tears, vicious misdemeanours and heavy physical and emotional abuse – all the while looking like this. Never a disheveled girl would you find in all the serials of Tamilore.
Thank you Ladies!