Q: Do sad songs make you cry?
A. No. The emotional response derived from pop music is inevitably a kitsch response. Following Kundera, you do not cry because you feel an emotion, but because the song has imitated the outline of an emotion that you could be having. This is a false sentimentality that comes from appearance and association as well as the false solidarity of crying “with” the singer and audience. The purpose of popular music is to redirect the listener’s emotion from the content of the song to an absent, idealized emotion.
What is more insidious, according to Kundera, is that kitsch denies the possibility of shit. The ecumenical church of kitsch is open to all; we are trained to passively accept music, patriotism, Taylor Swift, and loss of individuality in the face of a benign, idiotic art form. In doing so, we become subject to the will of the creators; our emotions can be turned to any object that gives the smallest gesture towards a large, vague emotion, and we will dab our eyes with nationalistic handkerchiefs. A true art would continually unsettle, disrupt, and destroy us, pushing us to explore and examine the limits of our world.
Stop listening to “music” and drop a fork in your garbage disposal. That will make you cry, and offer you a chance at true catharsis.