I want to state right up front that the story I’m about to share does not compare to the erasure that many people, especially minorities, feel due to the lack of representation, be it in media, politics, career paths, etc. This is a small sliver that gets me a little closer to understanding how that feels, but is not comparable in terms of the systemic harm and degradation far too many other people face.
If any of you have been reading the last few blog entries, you’ll know that during the Covid-19 pandemic I’ve felt very gaslit by the majority of my family whom I live with. It felt like I was the only one taking the pandemic and the recommended precautions seriously, that all of my concerns were hand-waved away, and while they would comment on my increasing distress and depression, no real steps were actually made to ease that state of affairs. This has led to a great deal of strain and a has taken a severe toll on my mental health.
The word “melodrama” has taken a rather sorry turn in modern usage. Today, if someone or something is called “melodramatic” it is viewed as “over the top” in a bad, silly, or unbelieveable way. It suggests a lack of subtlety or character or a firm relationship with reality. Generally, if someone calls your work “melodramatic,” it isn’t a compliment. (And yet the word “dramatic” hasn’t quite descended to the same depths as its longer cousin.)
This saddens me, because in the classical sense, I love melodramas. The work of Dickens or the Brontë sisters and even Jane Austen can be called melodramas because they appeal to emotion and are sensationalized to heighten those feelings. So many of my favorite stories are technically melodramas, from Little Dorrit and Jane Eyre to more modern incarnations like Ripper Street and Doctor Who. (The argument could be made that these are technically dramas, but I personally feel like “drama” is just short for “good melodrama.”)