Happiness is a hard-sell because Happiness is a self-generated emotion.
It can’t be forced onto another person the way more negative traits like Fear, Sadness, Greed, Regret, Inadequacy, etc. can.
Everybody has their own ideas of Happiness -a roomful of books, lots of money, a large family, quiet time with nobody around, God, oblivion, job security, Summer holidays, etc.
But you only have to mention DEATH and your entire audience is united in Fear. Stick a few murders on the pot and you have a guaranteed audience of headlighted-rabbits.
Death, like Sex, is an easy sell. Too easy in my view.
This is my biggest problem with “popular culture” -it’s almost always based on the lazy, easy-sell, negative tug-strings. Sport may be somewhat healthier than a hack ‘n slash violent “horror porn” movie, say, but even the glory and happiness from Sport is invariably predicated on the quashing of someone else -his/her hardwork and hopes and dreams have been wagered and spent on your own fleeting moment of joy (assuming you’re on the winning side). That is fair enough of course -many are more than willing to make this investment, but I still don’t accept that “Happiness” (for want of a better word) need necessarily be paid-for by others.
The easiest way to convey Happiness is through a lowest-common-denominator mawkish sentimentality -“the cute kitty must die… but NO! Look she’s alive!!!”, but this doesn’t automatically project Happiness the way negative emotions like Fear and Sadness can be projected.
Instead, poor attempts at projecting Happiness (which is the only kind of attempt we get most of the time) in art & entertainment induces the apathetic, weary cynicism we have all come to expect from those we are trying to please (who are, inevitably, teenagers …because nobody is worth stirring and pleasing more than self-absorbed cool kids -if you can crack that nut you can do anything!)
Other, more negative emotions such as Fear and Greed can be very easily fed from external sources. Happiness is not so easy. You can portray a certain view of happiness, but feeding it to readers/ viewers/ listeners and getting them to swallow it is not so easy -and harder nowadays than ever because everybody is expecting maudlin saccharine sweetness and over-ripe sentimentality.
We’ve all allowed ourselves be bitten by such stories or movies and we naturally wish to avoid it in the future. We raise barriers to protect ourselves from any perceived sickly-sweetness to come. After all, it only takes a grunt or a sneer from another person to send us crashing down to Earth. Nobody wants to be caught out on a natural high. It can make us look or feel foolish.
I blame parents for trying to be too nice and do too much without knowing how. I blame companies and programme-makers and political “leaders” in general for relying on market research and polls rather
than going with the gut. Nobody wants to be taken in by the sucker-punch and nobody despises sucker-punches more than the image-conscious, world-weary teenager.
Some people never recover from puberty. They spend their lives mistaking seriousness for maturity lest they reveal too much of themselves. I feel sorry for these people. They are ruled by (what I regard as) negative emotions. Even those who express or feel little variance in emotions are being restrained by negative traits.
But anyway, my thoughts on the matter are that there are enough negative vibes out there and I hope, with this website and anything else I do/ have done, not to add to it. If you catch me “selling negative” or taking cheap shots please pull me up on it at once -I might disagree and if so, will say why, but I’ll be grateful to you nonetheless for caring. I’m not a saint and I’m fairly sure I don’t spend my life living by any of the above as a credo. I’m not oblivious to the troubles of the world, but I don’t as a rule like to dwell on the negative. There are already enough people doing that. Let’s get on with the rest of it! Please join me!
Let’s be unashamedly upbeat (if not Happy)!