I applaud Patty Jenkins, the director of the well-reviewed Wonder Woman movie, and her response to a question in a Time magazine interview, “Why have you banned the word cheesy?”
“When artists, who are supposed to speak freely, are afraid to be earnest and do beauty and sincerity, you’ve got a serious problem on your hands. Cheesy makes people afraid to be emotional. And I won’t have it..” Jenkins declared. (Time, 6/26/17, B. Luscombe)
I won’t either, Patty. Since when did sentimentality and heartfelt emotion become “cheesy”?
I looked up the word Cheesy in the Oxford Learner’s Dictionary:
- (informal) not very good or original, and without style, in a way that is embarrassing but amusing: a cheesy horror movie.
- (informal) too emotional or romantic, in a way that is embarrassing: a cheesy love song, a cheesy romance novel
- (of a smile) done in an exaggerated and probably not sincere way: She had a cheesy grin on her face.
- smelling or tasting of cheese
Many times in my Creative Writing classes, an adult student writes a beautiful non-fiction piece about a mother, or a spouse, or a child that seeps in gratefulness and love. That student then downgrades her story by saying, “but it’s too cheesy.”
“What makes it cheesy?” I ask.
“Well, it’s sentimental. There’s nothing edgy in it, or dark, or negative.”
Aha. So if we write/photograph/draw/paint/dance out of a joyful or inspired or thankful or heart-felt emotion, then that creative piece is …. Cheesy? If we write about deep love or intense romance or extraordinary friendship, that’s . . . Cheesy?
Well, bring on the cheese.
I celebrate sentimentality.
According to Wikipedia, “Sentimentality originally indicated the reliance on feelings as a guide to truth, but current usage defines it as an appeal to shallow, uncomplicated emotions at the expense of reason.”
Call me old-fashioned, but I like using my heart as a guide to truth.
In my Thesaurus, sentimentality is called: mawkishness, soppiness, schmaltziness and sappiness.
I say, BRING ON THE SAP!
Without sap, we’d have no luscious syrup to spread on our dry pancakes or waffles.
Sappy syrup sweetens up what could be dull and tasteless.
What about you? Do you like your creative spirit sweetened, or dulled into political non-emotional correctness?
Is that a cheesy question?