Monday, September 27, 2010

The Manifesto.

My name is John Krizel, and I consider myself to be an appropriately happy person. I have a loving family, great friends, and the ability to generally avoid thinking about the deep existential questions that have haunted human beings throughout the centuries. Like, how lame it is that everyone will eventually die, and such.

I believe that, for someone of my age and socioeconomic status, I have seen my share of movies and TV shows, listened to my share of music, and read my share of books. I’d say I’m well educated, well mediated, and up on the popular culture. (What’s the deal with this Justin Bieber kid anyway?) Like most people my age, my choices of what to consume generally skew toward things that are not-terribly-depressing. For every Breaking Bad in my TV diet, there’s a Community or SportsCenter or Jersey Shore to make it all better at the end of the day.

But what effect does this avoidance of more depressing media have on my daily life? Am I willfully refusing to confront the grim realities of my existence, and if so, might not I become a more enlightened, self-aware individual if I changed? And, most importantly, how will this affect my sense of humor/facility with the ladies? To address the question, I have started this blog/social experiment.

1)  For the next [I have no idea for how long I will write this blog], I will make every effort to only watch movies that could be described as “sad,” “depressing,” “tragic,” “lachrymose,” and/or “bummertown USA.” I’ll be focusing on movies over other media because they’re easier to consume and write about in a fairly short amount of time. I reserve the right to throw in the odd book or TV special every now and again.
2)  I will also make every effort to avoid lighter movies/shows/music/books. Let’s not go crazy here; I won’t run screaming from the room if someone flips on The Office. But I’ll do my best.
3)  I will write about the films I watch in this blog, and how the experiment is affecting my daily happiness.

I do this because I am genuinely curious about the relationship between what entertainment we choose to consume and how we feel. Will watching only depressing films make me depressed? More socially aware? Less fun to be around (if such a thing is possible)? Only time will tell.

So what kind of movies are we talking about here? I’m thinking really, really heavy, bleak, depressing stuff. Holocaust movies, movies about other genocides, war movies, war-related-amputee movies, movies about poverty and addiction and immigration and other Important Social Issues. But I’m also not opposed to girlier stuff. Tearjerkers and such. 
[Quick aside: here is a list of ten movies/TV episodes that have brought me to tears of either joy or sadness:

1)        It’s a Wonderful Life
2)        Toy Story 3, Up, WALL-E, basically every recent Pixar (except, like, Cars)
3)        Home Alone
4)        You’ve Got Mail (BRINKLEYYYYY)
5)        A Muppet Christmas Carol
6)        The Lost finale
7)        The last Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien
8)        Jim and Pam’s wedding on The Office
9)        Homeward Bound
10)      Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco
 I make no apologies for this list.]

So. In this blog, I hope to evoke just how sad each film makes me, and what, if any, cumulative effect this project will have on my life as I forge ahead. I will begin tomorrow with Roman Polanski’s 2002 Holocaust drama The Pianist, featuring an Oscar-winning performance from Adrien Brody. I’ll continue on a semi-regular basis that will likely grow more infrequent if/when I get a job.

To do this, I need the help of all of you out there in BlogLand. I have some good ideas of what films to watch, but I can’t do it all on my own. Comment with your suggestions. Comment to tell me what a dumb idea this is. Comment however you like! I’d appreciate it. Let the sadness begin.


  1. I look forward to reading this. Good luck. I'll talk to you online in about 30 seconds.

  2. *nothing compares 2 u, sinead o'connor
    *purple rain, prince
    *michael j fox's last episode of "spin city" when "i try" by macy gray is playing in the background.
    *i try, macy gray

  3. Lindsay Filardo [slampiece]September 27, 2010 at 10:32 PM

    Suggestion: The Last Song starring Miley Cyrus. The following is documented evidence of its power (specifically, a photo of me and my roommate taken in the movie theater after seeing it for the first time):

  4. I was just wondering: Did your husband also cry during You've Got Mail?

  5. Jack the bear and radio flyer! you'll thank me later

  6. Good question, Tony. I believe Rich did cry, every time. Hey, how's John going to get depressed with folks like us in his life?

  7. 1. Please don't kill yourself. thanks.

    2. I highly recommend the angels in america hbo miniseries. perhaps you've heard of it?

    3. Tony's question is amazing.

    4. I was a sad emo girl in high school. i have five mixes called "sweet sorrow" that my best friend made me, filled with really fucking sad songs. i'll send you the track lists.

    5. i'm a big crier. things that make me cry the most: "hallelujah" by jeff buckley. the laramie project. when harry accidentally penetrates snape's memory and sees snape getting taunted by james & sirius. and when mrs. weasley is trying to get rid of the boggart and sees all her sons and then harry dead on the floor. and when ron is trying to destroy the horcrux and it turns into evil hermione and evil harry and they taunt him and make out.

    ok i'll stop.

  8. Interesting experiment. All I can say is I'm glad I am no longer your roommate. Winter was bad enough. But winter + intentional sadness? Dude, pack away your knives, please.

    The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

    I'll mail you some tissues. I even saw a commercial for Kleenex Share Packages. Maybe you can get them to sponsor you.

  9. My prediction - to be serious if I may - is that watching all these sad movies will actually cause you to be happier as you will see just how nice your life is as compared to some of these sad saps in the films. #Emo

    Also, I recommend "Sad Sack" from season 2 of Arrested.

  10. Interesting idea. How do you plan on measuring your level of happiness? That is one of the hardest things to measure scientifically, especially doing this yourself. Here's some sad movies to help you out, though:

    Mystic River
    Million Dollar Baby
    The Deer Hunter
    Steel Magnolias
    My Girl
    Cast Away
    Simon Birch

  11. As former media studies major, I made the terrible decision of writing my senior paper on the Rwandan Genocide in film. I made the horrible mistake of watching "Sometimes in April" and "Hotel Rwanda" (plus their corresponding documentaries) in one day. I was depressed for days. Just ask Rose.

    Other recommendations:
    The Killing Fields
    Beyond the Gates

    I would recommend "Lord of War" because of the subject matter, but it's not that sad... in fact, it's one of my favorite movies.

  12. Oh - one more recommendation Clive Owen's flick "Bent."

  13. @Meghan -- OMG I was in a scene from the stage version of "Bent." I was the non-Clive Owen gay Holocaust guy. (Note to blog readers: in college I played a number of roles in student theater productions, all of which happened to be both sad and gay. But I came out (eh?) of it decently happy.)

  14. How about a rendition of Dog Sees God with a family member playing Schroeder? That may do it.

  15. Ladder 49.... SAD. A Little Princess... SAD. Armageddon... SAD.

  16. Leaving Las Vegas. Seriously, try bouncing back from that one. Bonus points if you watch it with a bad hangover.

  17. Stepmom
    I am Sam
    Hotel Rwanda

    These are movies that made me cry. Up totally made me cry too.

  18. Love Story
    Basketball Diaries
    Requim for a Dream
    Old Yeller

  19. Whellp, sir. You are going to hate me for this, but if this is what you want, I will give it to you.

    First off, these are Anime. Now, don't run away, please. If this whole sadness thing is what you are looking for, you need to see these. I will also say that you are going to need to watch these series to really get the full effect.

    A beautiful anime with SO much to it. It is two seasons long (Clannad and then Clannad: After Story), but as far as anime/tv series go, they are short. The first season is to introduce you to the characters and make damn sure you fall in love with each and every one of them. Season two is where the sorrow starts. I literally cried for hours on this one, and I am pretty tough guy, honestly. MAKE SURE YOU WATCH BOTH SEASONS OR YOU WON'T GET THE EFFECT.

    Rumbling Hearts-
    This one is one season, but screwed up immensely from the start.

    Grave of the Fireflies:
    This is one of Hayao Miyazaki's masterpieces. It is a movie, about 2 hours.

    Fullmetal Alchemist (the first animated series)-
    This one starts off pretty happy and cool, then slowly descends into sadness.

    I hope you can consider these with an open mind for new experiences.

  20. Trainspotting/Requiem for a Dream - Heroin double feature, although more upsetting than sad.

    The episode of family guy dedicated to Stewie and Brian where they are stuck in the bank vault. Legit made me very very sad.

    The Iron Giant - My All-time favorite movie that never fails to bring a tear to my eye.

    There's also a strong deliniation between sadness caused by knowing what could be done to prevent an occurance and sadness based on the hopelessness of the situation. Take, for example, the scene in Air Bud where the kid has to leave Buddy. The reason this is so sad is the thought that you have no idea how you would act in that position. His actions become your actions so you feel his pain. In Requiem for a Dream, you often keep yelling "STOP DOING FUCKING HEROIN" at Jared Leto and feel more sadness to the situation because of the actor's poor choices. Just a thought.

  21. "4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days" - set in Romania, about abortion, saddest thing ever.

    "21 Grams" - Sean Penn and Naomi Watts are really, really depressed and depressing

  22. Atonement
    Simon Birch
    And the Band Played On
    The Virgin Suicides

    I look forward to this experiment.

  23. oh yes! Jack Frost (w/Michael Keaton)... SAD

  24. you'll want to watch a lot of European films then! anything by Bergman - it's all bleak and depressing; also - The Passenger (awesome, but also depressing); maybe some Kieslowski there too. oh and see this and this: all good depressing stuff about dyin and all

  25. Highly agree with Adrienne, 21 Grams or Amores Perros are clearly eligible. I also would offer:

    Funny Games
    Everything Put Together
    Maria Full of Grace
    Mean Creek
    The Sweet Hereafter

  26. I saw you on jeopardy the other night and now i read your blog, you are soo good looking!