Music

‘La La Land,’ ‘Moana,’ and ‘Beauty and the Beast’ bring comfort and hope to ailing nation

With the tumultuous nature of the country’s political mood that has arisen amid the 2016 election, it is not surprising that the long-dead film genre, the musical, appears to be making a strong comeback in Hollywood. I don’t personally like them very much, but musicals are historically and contemporarily important for morale.

The classic Hollywood musical reached its golden age in the 1930s, when the U.S. was in the throes of the Great Depression. Instead of the movies of the time reflecting the country’s mood, they rather reflected moviegoers’ need for comfort and happiness in this upbeat, fantastic genre.

“La La Land” would not have succeeded to the degree that it has if not for its timely release. Musicals don’t succeed when the real word is equally cheery. They exist almost exclusively for the purpose of cheering up, and at a time when the country needs cheering up more than it has in decades, “La La Land” served as just that.

Music scientifically does wonderful things for a low mood, according to Live Science. Whether that low mood belongs to an individual or an entire nation, music increases the chemicals in your brain attributed to improving your mood. Even sad music can help you process negative emotions, thus leading to a better sense of well-being in the long run.

If you have trouble processing emotions consciously, sitting down and watching a musical can cheer you up and subconsciously help you get over things you’ve been struggling with.
When a portion of the country is having trouble processing feelings of grief and disillusionment, we can all benefit from sitting down and watching a musical to guide us through the whole spectrum of human emotion, leaving the theater feeling upbeat and emotionally cleansed.

Though the timeliness of “La La Land” was unintentional, Hollywood has taken note of its unexpected and record-breaking success among both moviegoers and critics in these trying times.

I have never been a big fan of musicals, as I find it distracting and far-fetched when the cast of a movie breaks out into song and dance. With that said, it was my lifelong love for Emma Stone that prompted me to see “La La Land” upon its release. Instead of finding the singing and dancing distracting and far-fetched, I felt a complete shift in my attitude and found it somehow relieving.

Even if you aren’t a fan of the genre, you can’t help but feel good when you’re staring at a screen filled with technicolor and smiling faces, especially when, in this predominantly liberal bubble we call Syracuse University, you may not have seen so many smiling faces around you in the real world as of late.

Films like “La La Land,” “Moana” and the upcoming live-action “Beauty and the Beast,” all bring about feelings of happiness and nostalgia that no other genre can instill.
With so much going on in the world around us, it is incredibly relieving to have that as an option. Whether you love musicals or hate them, it can’t hurt to sit down for a couple of hours and experience a world so completely opposite to our current one while seeing our future’s potential.

Jenny Bourque is a freshman English and textual studies major. Her column appears weekly in Pulp. You can email her at jabourqu@syr.edu.

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