Tearing up during a particularly sad scene of a movie? Let yourself cry, says one pop culture lecturer and journalist.

The shame around crying in public dates back to whole 20th century, where public displays of emotion were seen as "unsophisticated and anti-intellectual," Carl Wilson told CBC Radio's On The Island.

But crying during movies can actually help people recognize the emotion during more difficult and more real, situations.

"One of the things that letting our entertainment move us in that way can do is keep those circuits alive in our bodies and in our minds — to be in touch with our emotions and know when we're not entirely okay."

As cheesy as it may sound, being in touch with your emotions is probably more important today than ever, because of the constant pressure to be the best version of yourself, said Wilson.

"Because we're all living in this insecure employment world where you seem like you have to promote your brand, there's a danger of pretending to always be okay and be at our best," he said.

'A workout for your emotional senses'

Think of it as an exercise for your emotions, he said.

"It feels to me like a workout for your emotional senses, [during] times in your life where it might not be so easy to express those things day to day."

It may be hard work, but showing emotion in public is part of the solution when it comes to changing gender roles and expressing gay sensibilities, said Wilson.

"That stigma seems to be lifting to some degree from a more open and emotional response to pop culture."

Wilson is giving a lecture at the University of Victoria called "The Taste of Tears: When Pop Culture Makes People Cry" Thursday night.

To listen to the full interview, click the link labelled: Let yourself cry during movies, says pop culture expert