Why do I Torment Myself with Sappy Movies in December?
- These movies make no sense. The internal logic falls apart almost immediately, or at least within the first quarter hour. There are wizardly Santas, wish-granting entities or objects, time-travel, alternate realities, magic spells and “coincidences” galore in these movies. I don’t only have to “suspend my disbelief”: I have to turn off my brain almost entirely.
- The characters are two-dimensional, predictable and ridiculously simplistic. No one can possibly be that shallow, that stupid, that naive, that obvious. Yet, there they are, in film after film, on USA, TNT, TBS, Hallmark, AMC and other movie channels and network television stations.
image from http://memegenerator.net
- These plots and characters are idiotic. The stories are anti-feminist or anti-intelligence or both. The messages, especially for women, include such tropes as: “Don’t have an interesting career or meet anyone ‘new’: go ‘home’ and be with someone from high school so that you can live within your family’s sphere because that’s the only way to ‘be happy.'” For those with successful careers or high-powered jobs, the messages are: “Being a successful person can’t possibly make you ‘happy’; only ‘love’ can do that.”
Repeated favorites are also the usual “beginning” in which they have the “meet-cute between some ‘ordinary’ person and someone ‘royal/wealthy.'” Next, we “hear” these messages: “Despite your complete unsuitability, s/he will want to be with you. Even if you’re a hotel maid or other ‘peon’ with nothing in common regarding backgrounds or experiences, don’t worry: you’ll live ‘happily ever after.’ So, everyone should aspire/expect to be swept up by someone rich and powerful at any moment. Never mind if that person is your employer, your subject, your client/patient or your nemesis: ‘it’s all good.'”
- The endings and beginnings are unsatisfying and incomplete: inevitably, these movies end with the main characters’ having their first (and sometimes only) kiss, or their wedding ceremony, or their engagement/proposal and response, or some other “beginning.” However, this event occurs after about 90 minutes’ worth of false starts, wrong turns, disrespect and/or disregard. How could they trust each other (or themselves, for that matter) after one or both of them has ignored the signs and/or the other person, misread them or misunderstood them for their entire relationship up to that point?
- These characters lie and cheat their way to “happiness.” Often, one or both has been about to begin with /marry someone else entirely. Then, at almost the last minute, one or both of the main characters changes his/her mind and breaks that relationship off in order to be with the other main character instead. There is also usually no honesty from the deceiver regarding how long s/he has harbored feelings for the other protagonist, either. Yet, somehow, all lying and liars (if they are the protagonists, that is) are forgiven.
image from http://smilingldsgirl.com
- The protagonists hurt others. Let’s talk about the person whose heart s/he just broke by calling off the engagement/wedding, ending the ongoing relationship. Usually, the filmmakers/writers make that person seem “deserving” of being rejected by showing him/her to be unreliable, like being a cheater or a liar, or being secretly (not-so-secretly) a jerk or insincere, just in it for the money or status, for example. But what about when that person is actually great, but has the misfortune to be suddenly “wrong” for the protagonist? We don’t see how the rejected ones cope with the ending of their dreams, do we?
- The romantic couple starts with a shaky foundation. How can there be any trust in the person who just betrayed their beloved? How can the new love, the family, the friends, support this change of heart so readily?
- How can these people trust their own judgment? One or both of them was about to be committed to one person, then, after very little stimulation or information, they make a decision to end that and commit to someone else, all in a very short span of time while relying on very little “real-life” experience of being involved with the new person. Of course, this new “love interest” or “best friend-turned-lover” is conventionally beautiful/handsome. That doesn’t hurt, eh?
- Then, there is the issue of questionable compatibility. Seriously: these two main characters have not spent much time together, never been intimate or even kissed, and suddenly, they decide they are perfect for each other and decide to get married? Unless they are acknowledging that many marriages head into divorce quite quickly, how can anyone be glad that these two people are starting a long-term commitment without sufficient information and experience about each other?
- How do they live with the way they started? I try to imagine the moments after that kiss, or on the honeymoon, or about a month or so into their new relationship. Wouldn’t one or both of them ask: “Honey? How is it that you love me/want me now, but you didn’t for x number of weeks/months/years? What exactly was your problem then and how do I know you won’t develop that problem again?” or something like that.
image from http://www.amazon.com
- Why do I do this to myself? Why do I watch so many of these movies each year? It’s as if I’ve been ensorceled, doomed to watch helplessly while believing uselessly in these “happy endings,” time after time, even though I know how false they are.
I admit it: I get weepy when they “find” each other. I still enjoy the seemingly “happy ending.”
Maybe I’m always hoping for a “happy ending” to a romantic story of my own.
Wish me good luck with that.
image from http://everydaylifewithmo.wordpress.com