Schadenfreude as a story-line element

The word, of course, literally means “harm-joy.” It refers to the alleged appeal of someone else’s misfortune or tragedy being a source of humor or delight to others.
I submit that this was the basis of appeal for TV dramas such as Dallas and Dynasty, and movies such as the recent one involving a hapless man forced to help in a jewel heist; I think Reindeer was part of the title.
Anyway, near as I can figure, it’s the very fact that the story line is based primarily on the appeal of cruelty, sadism, violence, and brutality to the viewers. Am I correct?
I have recently stated that, given the choice, I would rather be deaf and blind than go to the movies. :frowning:

Pain is what humor is all about, so how far do you want to retreat? We watch the the pain of others because we identify with it. We seek solutions in other’s misery because of our own failure to deal with it ourselves. We are violent species, also, and I think it better that we do violence by proxy than by direct action. Don’t you?

There is no story without conflict, and there is no conflict without harm or the threat of harm. Therefore, harm is necessary to story. Of course, that totally begs the question of whether or not the conflict portrayed is one in which we take pleasure from the pain of others or one in which we sympathize with the characters and take pleasure in their eventual success in defeating their foe.

I have had the best shadenfreude news recently. (I actually use this word in my regular vocabulary.) Anyway, my ex-roomate §Rick had his lungs collapse, develop Pleurasy (sp?), and almost die from a diabetic coma (incidently he didn’t know he had diabetes) a couple of weeks ago. I was so happy and was really hoping he was going to die. Needless to say I really hated him. He was such a bastard that everyone I currently know that also knows him was ecstatic to hear his horrible news. Anyway, I won’t talk more of it right now.


SqrlCub’s Arizona Adventure

To Sqrl Club; I could not do it that way. When I was a kid my father took me to see Man of a Thousand Faces, the story of silent-screen actor Lon Chaney. Perhaps most people seeing this movie today would think it schmaltzy; it was sad for me most of the way through–and I cried at the end, after the deathbed scene.
That’s why I said what I said about movies in the OP. This, among other things, has pretty much obliterated my social contacts. :frowning:

Further comment about Independence Day: I did not go see this movie–I refused to, after seeing the ads. In any case, a local movie critic went to see it; and in a scene where, as he said, aliens destroyed Manhattan, the audience actually cheered! OK, maybe movies and TV use schadenfreude as an “anodyne” of sorts; but to me it suggestes that people are no damn good. :frowning:

[Moderator Hat: ON]

Well, I hate to be a harm-joy, but I see no signs of a debate here. So I’m sending it off to MPSIMS.

David B, SDMB Great Debates Moderator

[Moderator Hat: OFF]