A Better Medicine?

A new word that’s coming into widespread use is “doomscrolling”. It’s the bad habit of constantly checking the news to see what depressing thing has taken over the headlines this time. The reasons behind this, quite naturally, are seeing a lot of people becoming depressed or at least “down in the dumps”.

Now I’m not a professional – and if you seriously are depressed, you should seek out some professional help after you’re done reading this essay – but it seems to me that humans have been devising ways to chase away gloom for thousands of years…..

This famous musical, for example, is based largely on the plays of Plautus (c. 254 – 184 BCE), and it really does capture the look of daily life in Republican Rome:

There actually is some serious research that indicates that laughter does help treat depression. What little I’ve seen appears to be concerned mostly with short-term effects: the quick release of a burst of laughter from a joke or two. That’s all well and good, but what if you plonked yourself down in front of a screen and watched a movie? At the very least, you’ll be distracted from your cares for an hour or so.

Some two dozen or so years ago, the American Film Institute decided to put together some lists to mark the centennial of the American movie industry. After the initial “100 Years, 100 Movies” list – and TV special – they expanded their listmaking to specific genres. In June of 2000, they aired a special on comedies: “100 Years, 100 Laughs”.

The opening montage never fails to put a smile on my face:

How many of the movies in it can you name?

Their list has been frozen in time, and one can detect some “political” leanings in their choices. For another take on the Best Comedy Movies, the London edition of Time Out has their own Top 100. Which, even though it has a decided British slant, does include more foreign movies and is kept up to date.

As you peruse the lists, checking off the ones you’ve seen and picking out those you’d like to see, keep in mind to

And as with all the other over-the-counter medicines (and the under-the-counter ones, too), if the condition persists, discontinue use and consult a medical professional.

Seriously.

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