On my lunch break in Warwick today I was struck by the shameless plucking of heartstrings employed by two different window displays, representing two extremes of the human emotional spectrum.
Firstly there was this:
In case you can’t read the book covers, they include such joyous titles as ‘The Saddest Girl in the World’ (a true story), ‘When Daddy Comes Home’, ‘Cry Salty Tears’, ‘Don’t Tell Mummy’ and ‘Nobody Came’, and each one seems to feature a troubled child staring mournfully and accusingly out at you from its cover. It seems we have created a new book genre: the child-victim tear-jerker. How on earth this has come about is fascinating – is it because it makes us feel better about our own lives? Does it allow us to break down emotional barriers we’ve put up regarding our own childhoods? Or (more likely) is it just the macabre voyeurism of the human condition, which knows no limits to the depths it will plumb for new eye-widening horrors? Whichever way, the popularity of such books does not bode well for a chirpy outlook on life.
In complete contrast, the second window showcased a range of ceramic hearts, each displaying its own nauseatingly saccharine pronouncement on life:
Both of these window displays made me think about how our irrepressible love of jumping on the bandwagon extends to our emotional condition. It seems that even emotions can be ‘trendy’. There has been a definite trend over the last few years to wallow in reading these anguishing tear-jerkers whilst sitting in our ironically chintzy home with sickly-sweet lovehearts hanging off various hooks and door knobs. What’s that all about? We want to lose ourself in sadness whilst, simultaneously, celebrating love and life. Hmmm. It strikes me that we will feel whatever the bullying marketeers want us to feel. Perhaps we just need a new range of ceramic tear-drop decorations, for when we’re getting lost in the gloomy miasma of a depressing book. How about ‘People walk through our lives and leave mud on our hearts’? Although, I’m not sure even the best marketing team could make that one sell…
(Post-script: I realise the irony of me writing this, having previously confessed my love of weighty, Russian novels, notorious for their bleakness. However, there is also great humour, light and life in those Siberian tomes – honest!)