We often joke about the PopWatch Confessional being a form of therapy: We read others’ comments, discover we’re not alone in certain behaviors, and somehow we feel better about ourselves. But have you actually used entertainment as therapy? Here’s why I’m asking, and warning, it’s a more serious discussion than usual. My father is nearing the end of a six-year battle with an illness. Every night this week, I’ve found myself watching Paul Wylie’s figure skating routine to the Untouchables soundtrack before going to sleep, waiting to see if I still get chills during the main theme segment, which kicks in at 3:30 in the video below. If I still get chills, then I’m doing okay. I’m not numb. I still have a capacity for joy. It’s a dangerous game to play. I’m sure there will come a time when I won’t, and that confirmation could make me even more sad. But for now, every time I do, it’s a source of comfort more than the actual entertainment itself. I tested it early just now, and I got chills because I got chills.
I think my interest in entertainment therapy is two-fold: On a professional level, I feel a responsibility to monitor my emotional well-being because if I’m numb, it’s going to affect my response to TV shows, movies, etc., and that doesn’t seem fair. And on a personal level: I’ve always identified myself as an “excitable person,” and I don’t want to lose that. I love entertainment and the experience of it — the yelling at the TV, the shameful amount of rewinding, the unintelligible recount of a hilarious scene because you laugh just thinking about it, the single tear. What if that goes away? How long until it comes back?
Your turn. When have you used entertainment as a form of therapy? And has anyone used it the specific way I am, as a way to monitor yourself on a prolonged emotional roller coaster ride? If so, what was it? I’m thinking Frasier repeats will also be a barometer for me, since they’re tried and true and I know how frequently and loudly I normally laugh at them.