This Halloween season, it's become my greatest fear. I'll explain why in a bit.
But my attitudes changed. As I got older, a turn in my life made me surprisingly vulnerable to tearjerkers.
My cinematic horizons expanded; my taste in movies matured. I soon discovered that sad endings played out on screen affected me in a much more visceral and tenacious way than sad endings played out in print. I can't seem to shake my reaction if I've become invested in the characters.
The first movie that really tore me up was Midnight Cowboy. It's a brilliant John Schlesinger film, infinitely better than the original novel (in fact, it won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1969), but I wasn't able to sit through the final sequence until a good amount of time had passed. Only many viewings later could I stand to watch Joe Buck hug the deceased Ratso Rizzo on that bus.
Other movies bothered me in much the same way, although not as strongly. Until Brokeback Mountain came along. That movie fucked . . . me . . . up. Even though I subsequently bought the DVD, I still resist watching it. I don't think I can without breaking down -- and without feeling resentful, feeling somehow betrayed.
Now I'm in the midst of devouring the American version of "Queer as Folk." (I never subscribed to Showtime, so I never saw the series when it aired.) The nature of the characters as well as all the plot turns began making me apprehensive about the series' conclusion, so I looked it up on the Internet.
NO! Knife in the heart! I won't be watching the fifth and final season.
I hurt just thinking about it!
Movies and TV shows have made me a complete wimp when it comes to non-HEA's. I can still take them in books -- two of my favorite reads from the past year are The Brothers Bishop and Junction X, both of which made me cry buckets -- but when an on-screen couple I adore doesn't end up together, I'm in a mournful daze for days. (If the resolution is ambiguous, if it offers at least a glimmer of hope, I'm satisfied. But one that destroys a hard-won relationship and seems irreversible? I'm shattered.)
So how do you react to non-HEA's and -HFN's for fictional characters who've thoroughly captured your imagination? Do such endings bother you across the board, in books as well as movies, or more in one than the other? Have you ever been crippled by disappointment at a story's outcome? Or do I need therapy?