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Jun Y
07-18-2010, 07:32 AM
I cannot stop thinking about this topic. Why is it automatically assumed that it is inferior, unsophisticated, undesirable, or even shameful to be sentimental, emotionally honest, and vulnerable? Why is it so bad and so scary to lay your pain and joy bare to all the world to see?

I am thinking of the various David Wilson's programs that are often criticized for being boring, sentimental, or cheesy. Take for example The Way We Were he made for Dube and Davison last season. It makes perfect sense knowing their history. Take for example my favorite of all of Michelle Kwan's programs --- not any competitive program but the exhibition "Fields of Gold," after she did not win the Olympic gold medal.

It occurred to me that intellectuals tend to celebrate perfect, flawless works that are to be admired. A creation is judged by how few blemishes it contains. Diamonds are a highly desirable object, because it is the hardest substance and resistant to cuts and scratches. We celebrate people and feelings that cannot be harmed and hurt. Strength and toughness. Pure beauty. The absence of vulnerability. The purer the better. Being earnest is far worse than being stupid or nasty.

Yet that is not what people respond to. People respond to schmaltz.

You can dismiss it as shallow, silly, simple-minded, and naive, but in reality emotions have a much stronger grip on our brain (or what is known as the heart) than intellectual thoughts. And what connects us is emotional empathy between any two people.

Although admiration for something hard and flawless is powerful, it is no match for touching one's soft spot in the heart. The cortex of consciousness looks down on the lowly emotional brain, but even the rationale brain has learned enough science to realize that it is the emotional brain that rules our behaviors and instincts.

(Well, what am I trying to say? It is late and I cannot sleep. I am rambling.)

When honest emotions are laid out with no pretension, no shell of self-protection, no attempt to impress or manipulate, no intention to seduce or conquer, no dressing-up, no projection of fear, when all you give is "Look, this is my pain, my errors, my vulnerability, my true self, and nothing else," I think you get something that resonates.

Perhaps emotions get a bad reputation because they are susceptible to manipulations by falsehood and because they have no advocate in front of the abstract mind. Yet, there is a distinctive difference between cheap, manipulative attempts and honesty. I do believe that most people can tell the difference when they are presented with something that is true and raw.

Emotions are by nature not complex or abstract, not rationale, not cool, not flawless, not invincible. It takes enormous courage and strength to allow others, even strangers, to access one's most tender and vulnerable emotions. It takes enormous faith in human empathy and kindness to give a piece of oneself to others and expect them to treat it with tenderness and care. Most of us cannot. Most of us are afraid.

I know a lot of Canadian skaters and their programs are considered too cheesy, too naive, too shallow, too simple, and unsophisticated. Yet I am often moved by this trust they seem to place in others and almost covet it, for it takes a generous and kind people to allow this sense of safety, so that one can lay bare one's emotions without the fear of being ridiculed or harmed.

I believe art is a bond that connects people. In life we have enough reasons to hide behind each of our armors of pretension. Art is a place where people find refuge to be their true selves. Art demands a certain humility; it demands that you give a piece of you that is completely real. It may not count as high art, but it is real.

VIETgrlTerifa
07-18-2010, 08:11 AM
I think people complain about schmaltz because it isn't emotionally honest. Who says emotional connection and "high art" are mutually exclusive?

Anyway, why are you stereotyping "intellectuals"? Actually, what do you even mean by that term?

Jun Y
07-18-2010, 08:19 AM
Anyway, why are you stereotyping "intellectuals"? Actually, what do you even mean by that term?

You don't know what I mean? Well, sorry but I can't help you there.

Ugh. I spelled the word "schmaltz" wrong again in the title. I should absolutely stay away from Yiddish words from now on.

Kwantumleap
07-18-2010, 10:38 AM
Is this an essay for an english class :confused: If skating's good, it's good. CoP probably helped to take a bit of the finesse and naturalness out of the free program so schmaltzy programs aren't typically as captivating anymore.

floskate
07-18-2010, 11:25 AM
I cannot stop thinking about this topic. Why is it automatically assumed that it is inferior, unsophisticated, undesirable, or even shameful to be sentimental, emotionally honest, and vulnerable? Why is it so bad and so scary to lay your pain and joy bare to all the world to see?

I am thinking of the various David Wilson's programs that are often criticized for being boring, sentimental, or cheesy. Take for example The Way We Were he made for Dube and Davison last season. It makes perfect sense knowing their history. Take for example my favorite of all of Michelle Kwan's programs --- not any competitive program but the exhibition "Fields of Gold," after she did not win the Olympic gold medal........


I think VIETgrlTerifa hit the nail on the head. It takes an extraordinary skater to transcend technique and become one with the music, however much Peggy Fleming may have stated otherwise :lol:

Schmaltz can be entertaining, funny and I see nothing wrong with it in the correct context if that is the main aim. However, as has been said, words like cheesy and schmaltz become labels for work where there is no emotional truth and where schmaltz clearly wasn't the desired effect! There are so many programs now where you can see the skaters thinking through from a choreographic point of view. Smile on this step at the judges - 'O' face here. Arms outstretched orgasmically after the three-turn, stroke face and look grief-stricken on a spreadeagle. I could go on and on. :rolleyes:

Of course they are athletes, not actors but the greatest skaters are able to move you or elicit a certain emotion which comes from being honest on the ice. Some skaters are able to take choreography and do just that - very rarely but still. Others clearly are just going through the motions without any understanding of what it actually means which is blatantly obvious.

sharpblade
07-18-2010, 02:02 PM
that is so true, you can't teach that. It comes from the heart and is so obvious from the spectator point of view.

DORISPULASKI
07-18-2010, 04:15 PM
What I resent is people using "entertaining" as a bad word to describe a skate. I have no objection whatever to being entertained. :cool: And real, honest entertainment, intended as entertainment, is more pleasing to me than contrived, fake drama.

In other words, I enjoy watching Ryan Bradley, when he's on :watch::watch::watch:

vivika1982
07-18-2010, 05:03 PM
You got me lost at schmaltz Jun Y :) because there is nothing wrong with good skating and overdosed emotions .

iarispiralllyof
07-18-2010, 05:13 PM
I think most people can enjoy schmaltz to a certain degree. I know I can be pretty sentimental myself but even I have limits. Cheeze is just cheeze. Like chicken soup for the soul, there's a point where excessive sentimentality just makes something seem artificial and immature, shallow.

screech
07-18-2010, 05:23 PM
I think that quite often, yes it's cheese, but there are the rare times when it does come out right, like Dubreuil/Lauzon's Somewhere in Time FD, which was gorgeous and perfect for them and their relationship. But then it started to become a bit cheesier the next year when the stuck with that exact same theme with their At Last FD. Still gorgeous, but cheesier.

orbitz
07-18-2010, 05:46 PM
Why is it so bad and so scary to lay your pain and joy bare to all the world to see?


Because it can often come off as manipulative and becomes all about "ME, ME, ME". These are not programs but I'd classify these moments as schmaltzy:

1. Oksana sobbing and couldn't complete any jump throughout her "You'll See" program at the Ryder Pro comp after Sergei's death.
2. Nicole dropping down to one knee and looking up at the ceiling at Worlds during the week that Fassi died.


Those moments didn't feel authentic to me.

Wyliefan
07-18-2010, 05:57 PM
There's a difference between sentiment and schmaltz. It's like the difference between, say, Charles Dickens's books and the "Elsie Dinsmore" books.

skatesindreams
07-18-2010, 06:12 PM
I like to be entertained.

I also hope to see genuine emotion conveyed through performance.
That doesn't happen often, in most cases.

Both aims are valid.

Under CoP "fake drama" often takes the place of attempting to convey anything to the viewer, IMO!

Dminor
07-18-2010, 06:20 PM
Emotions are by nature not complex or abstract

:huh:
Ummm... I beg to differ.

JJH
07-18-2010, 08:13 PM
By definition, schmaltz isn't honest sentimentality. Schmaltz is defined as excessive sentimentality. Too much. Just too much.

Also, the free online dictionary defines schmaltz as liquid fat, especially chicken fat. That's how I feel after I watch a schmaltzy program-like I've just eaten way too much liquid chicken fat. Bilious.