Thursday, January 18, 2007

Emotional Power of TV Still Amazes Me

I spent a lot of years trying to find a job that I loved. I gave up along the way and went back to graduate school. Then a funny thing happened: I accidentally found a job that I love.

I spend my time trying to understand the power of TV's emotion. Why do silly stories written by people I'll never meet move me so?

Sometimes when I am writing a manuscript, it will feel as if I am overstating things. And then I watch the television, and I understand that I am overstating nothing.

Grey's Anatomy was on tonight. George O'Malley's father dies. My father was in the hospital this month (he's better now). That made the fictional TV show a little too real.

I survived tonight's episode only by silently repeating "it's only a story" in my head over and over. It also helped to read the scrolling school closings along the bottom of the screen.

When I took introduction to theatre at NMSU, they talked about the "willing suspension of disbelief." It seemed plausible at the time.

But now it is completely absurd. When you sit down in a theatre or in front of a TV, the narrative starts to grab a hold of you. Eventually it will get you, and you will be sucked in. The suspension of disbelief is automatic. In fact, you have to work damned hard to keep the disbelief going.

This is an endless fascination to me. I'm like a kid in a candy store. Figuring out how this works in the brain is too cool.

P.S. I was over at the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center today, and none of those people looked like the people at Seattle Grace. Hmmm. They might be lying to us. Well, there was this one really cute nurse.

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Blogger Leah Fo Shizzle Bizzle said...

I woke up with huge, puffy eyes after watching that show last nite! And my roommate had gone through a very similar situation with her mother a year and a half ago. I agree that TV/movies can grab a hold of you and suck you in. Super interesting stuff indeed.

4:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well Sam, I don't watch Grey's Anatomy, but all the women at work today were talking about how much they cried.

Just think. I almost had suspension of disbelief as a variable in my thesis before I joined your lab. I'm glad things worked out the way they did.

7:11 PM  

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