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Meta-Emotion: How Films and Music Videos Communicate Emotions About Emotions

Anne Bartsch

Keywords: audiovisual media; emotional gratification; entertainment experiences; meta-emotion

This article outlines a conceptual framework for analyzing meta-emotions in audiovisual media. Meta-emotions are evaluative thoughts and feelings about emotions that are represented and/or elicited in the viewer. Based on a conceptual analysis of meta-emotion in terms of current emotion theory the essay concludes that meta-emotions are communicated on different levels of cognitive complexity. Cues to meta-emotion can be present in (1) the aesthetic representation of emotions; (2) the narrative context of emotions; and (3) symbolic elements that refer to cultural norms and values concerning emotions. The essay exemplifies this three-level framework using a film scene and a music video. Specifically, the essay analyzes the communication of meta-emotions about anger in Fight Club, and meta-emotions about sadness in Frozen.

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