Thursday, February 9, 2012

Everything I Need to Unlearn About Dating- I Learned From Movies

My favorite character in a book I'm writing is a guy named JJ. He's a bartender who schools my would- be heroine in romance. She's broken hearted, sobbing into her vodka tonic. They start chatting about dating and the topic of movies comes up and he tells her that he doesn't understand why women's favorite films are all about cheating. He, of course, is much less eloquent about it as he describes that he calls the "whore" phenomenon, believing that all women's favorite movies are about women who are either perceived to be, by society or themselves, as women of loose morals.

My heroine is appalled! How could he make such a generalization? He ask her to name her favorite movie, she responds that it is "The Notebook". He says, "You know what that movie is about? It's about a whore that cheats on her fiance".  She gets upset, she says, that she also loved the classic, romantic film Titanic. He says, "You know what that movie is about, it's about a whore, that cheats on her fiance." This goes back and fourth with all of her favorite movies which have some sort of cheating romance theme in them. You can probably guess that they end up in bed together, but I won't spoil the ending.

But JJ, my character, has actually taught me a lot about women. Yes, about women in general, but about me in particular. He has made me realize that everything I need to unlearn about dating, all of the bad habits I have regarding relationships are things I've learned from movies. Shocking. I know. My own industry is  using my own feelings against me! It is teaching me these terrible habits, that I plan on breaking, starting now.  Don't believe me? Keep reading.

ONE DAY
I loved this book. I loved this movie. I loved the idea that a reformed bad boy would discover how much he loved the woman whose been right under his nose.

This doesn't happen in real life. No guy that came over to your place, the night you met him, just to have sex with you, isn't going to suddenly NOT have sex with you and then become your best friend only to discover he's been in love with you this whole time. It's not going to happen. And if you do leave your incredibly nice french boyfriend whose your new chance at love to be with him, you're dumb.

THE NOTE BOOK
Ah yes, love that spans years of people longing to be together - circumstance constantly keeping them apart. All great teary, good, heart wrenching stuff. My favorite part is the little shoulder shrug when she comes back to be with him. And don't get me started on the lines, "If you're a bird, I'm a bird." Please...I'm tearing up right now just thinking about it.

However, this again,  doesn't happen in real life. Let me tell you, if you cheat on your lovely, kind fiance that you get along with to be with your so called soul mate, it will certainly not go down as easily. He's not gonna take it as well as James Marsden took it. I don't think he'll say "I wanna tell you a story and you tell me how it ends". I think he's gonna say, "You miserable asshole, you ripped my heart out, please get the F* out of here." And in the same vein as Patrick Dempsey in Sweet Home Alabama said, "So this is what this feels like."  yeah, that's not gonna happen either. He'll probably say, "Go F* yourself". And to top things off, the other guy whose been waiting for your forever, isn't suddenly going to be excited about being your second choice.

BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S
This is probably my all time favorite. Girl from no where winds up being a socialite with no money but conning every Harry, Dick, Tom (i think i have that backwards, forgive me, I'm newly an American), into giving her money meets a kept man who happens to be a writer and their friendship becomes a legendary love story where he saves her.

If you're conning men out of money, I don't think a man is going to look at you and think, "What a catch"...unless he's a bank robber. He probably also won't fall in love with you because he's too busy conning the rich woman whose paying his bills. Two people doing shady things together doesn't make them comrades of war, it makes them lonely.

THE WEDDING SINGER
Sweet young girl dating a total douche bag ends up realizing that her new friend the Wedding Singer is the guy she's crazy about.


We all have friends that date some jerk, but most of our friends, especially in their 30s aren't marrying an asshole like the guy she was marrying. Most of the time, no one is leaving their fiance for you, because 9 times out of 10, the person isn't totally awful. People are essentially good and your relationship, if you're engaged, for the most part works which is why it's so hard to get a divorce or to break up an engagement. Either way, you probably won't be cause of the break up and if you are, that person probably won't want to be with you either because A) you remind them of failure and B)they'll now need to be single and find themselves again.


HE'S JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU
The book was my bible post divorce. Lame, I know. But,  it awoke in me and in thousands of other women across the world the empowerment needed to get over that guy that just didn't deserve you anyway with that one little phrase, "he's just not that into you."

But what happens in the movie? They end up together! The entire time he's telling her that there are no exceptions, that men will make an effort when they want to be with you, that there are no signs, that men are straight forward, but THEN he ends up falling in love with her!! Shame on you, film makers. This is a horrible message to send to women! He just wasn't that into you? Really, because they ended up together! She was the exception...the exact message we were trying to avoid. In the end, if you just aren't interested anymore after chasing him like an asshole...he'll come around? Is that the message we want to send to women?

There are a gazillion examples of this and the above are really just a few, but you catch my drift.

I have such mixed feelings about this because as a film maker, I LOATHE the idea that my movie has to give you some sort of moral. I'm just trying to tell a story and how you choose to interpret that story is up to you. However, I do feel like these romantic comedies should come with some sort of warning label. This is NOT real life. This is NOT going to happen to you. Go play sports, go be yourself, go hang out with your girlfriends because that guy who you're in love with that flaunts other girls around you and keeps you waiting in the wings is NEVER going to feel about you, the way that you feel about it. EVER.

I know it's harsh and women, we have a hard time because we are wired differently than men. We don't love harsh! Women can meet a guy they aren't into and eventually develop feelings for him because we are nurturing and want to see the good in others. I'm not saying we're better. (Not out loud anyway) I think we have some great traits and some not so good ones, but we are just different and when it comes to relationships, we can give  a friend the benefit of the doubt.  We are just good that way, but that doesn't mean that men are. 9 times out of 10, if a guy meets you and just isn't interested, he's not gonna one day wake up and change his mind, no matter how charming you are and lets face it, you're probably incredibly charming. So move on, it's that dudes loss. And trust me, I'm in the choir, not just preaching to it. Can I get an AMEN.

I once liked a bartender. Okay, I didn't just like him, I"ll go ahead and admit I was madly in love with him. He acted coy at first, but he liked me too. He actually inspired my scruffy Irish bartender character. But that guy taught me such a valuable lesson that I carry with me now. No matter how much he grew to like me, and he did. (tears and presents and everything). He would never want to be in a relationship with me. He would never love me the way I deserve to be loved, but he never lied to me about it. He always told me, from the beginning, that he was not a commitment guy. I just didn't listen, because I was too busy watching all these movies where people changed. That's the fantasy though right? Because people don't change, unless they want to change, but if you're always waiting for that third act twist, they feel manipulated and you don't end up feeling like you won either. I

Will I keep watching these movies? Yes, I will continue to watch these movies because I'm still a hopeless romantic and I want to believe that in the end, love conquers everything. And what is the purpose of these movies if not to make you optimistic about life and joy and all of that really sappy great stuff? I already have my tickets for THE VOW, in theaters tomorrow,  so yes. But, in the meantime, I'm gonna try to remember all of these lessons I need to unlearn, because real life is more like 500 Days of Summer, you do end up living happily ever after, just not with the person that didn't want to be with you to begin with.

1 comment:

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