Saturday, April 13, 2013

Emotions and Sentimentality

At the beginning of the movie, Harry says that no man can have an attractive female friend because the sex that he inevitably wants to have with her would ruin the friendship.
Harry thinks he has everybody and everything figured out. All men think this and all men think that. As  Sally listens she is somewhat offended - generalizing people and the relationships between men and women. Although his statements are funny, sometimes we can't help that Harry is a wise-guy who secretly just want to have sex with Sally (as we can predict a foreshadowing in some form). As they separate and get involved again, the two do become friends - being there to talk on the phone at night, double-dates with friends, and enjoying each other's company. Finally, after sleeping together, the two decide that having sex really did complicate things and grew apart again. In each others' absence they realized that they have fallen in love.
The audience needs, as Plantinga says, "a language and a method to enable us to understand better the specators involvement in movies" (151). Plantinga suggests emotion and a certain cognitive undertaking by the audience. I think this is quite appropriate because how we think is directly related to sentiment and sentimentality. If we are able to connect on a level not only with human characters but also their "inferences, appraisals, judgements, hypotheses, etc" we can experience this sentiment and deeply connect to the situations the characters are in. For example, the judgements that Harry makes at the beginning pan out into the relationship between himself and Sally. These cognitive inferences arouse sentiment in the audience by comparing to real life situations. In other words, we are forced to judge on our own whether we think that "sex really does prevent friendship" or any other wise words from Harry. It is the audience's cognitive responses to the characters' judgements that arouse sentiment and aid in the success of the film's bringing about emotion. But! As Plantinga also says, and as many of us know, emotions cloud judgement. How does this complicate what we've just read and watched? Are there fundamentals to our cognitive interests and connections? Or are their only subjective experiences because each person has is or her own relationships qualities, that may differ from others?


  1. Harry mentions specifically that "the sex part always gets in the way" insinuating plato's ideas of male and female relationships. I think this answers the fundamentals to cognitive interests because in an almost comedic way, most everyone has in fact found themselves in a situation where thinking about sex has prevented a friendship from blossoming as such. This is where we are tied to Harry from the beginning of the story. It is interesting that we can also feel a connection to Sally since we have all likely been in the opposite situation as well, wanting just friendship when the other party does not. Because of the constant debate between the two sides (even internally) I don't think they are taking a subjective look into what a relationship vs friendship is. They are simply showing a scenario that is probably pretty common, whereas half the time it may end up going very differently.

  2. I agree. It is hard to look at anything with an objective eye, especially anything that happens close to the heart or close to personal experience. Because we have felt something close to their feelings our sympathy does seems to cloud our judgment for what might actually be best for the situation.


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