I did laundry. Suddenly my clothing options are nearly limitless, and I seem to have gained some perspective. I put on a new pair of underwear simply because I could. I also don't feel as depressed anymore. Coincidence?

I'd like to expound upon something I wrote in my last post: my hatred of love stories.

Thanks to fairy tales and the like, I now feel like my ultimate romantic goal is to be rescued. Films like Garden State (to take but one example) teach us that it is alright, nay, desirable to be fucked up. You're stuck in a rut, directionless, and you're not sure you care enough to make the effort to escape. You're depressed, if not meta-depressed. Your life is so tragic. And suddenly someone swoops in and saves you from yourself. This person is drawn to you because you're complicated and frustrated and apathetic and broken. He/she is your perfect match, and you both know this, and then you're fixed.

Guess what? Not gonna happen. No one wants to be troubled by your baggage. No one's attracted to fucked up angsty twentysomethings. No one wants to get to know a sobbing depressed mess. You can't just sit around and wait for your soul mate to come and save you.

That's the most upsetting part about that type of fiction. You get false hope. You learn absolutely nothing of value; in fact, you're fooled into behaving the opposite of how you really should behave.

Consider Amélie. She's too shy to talk to Nino. Throughout the whole movie she stalks him and leaves passive-aggressive clues, but when it comes down to it she can't face him. In fact, she actively denies leaving the clues. In my opinion, the movie should have ended with her crying in her kitchen after she doesn't answer the door. Instead, Nino rescues her from her own insecurity and shyness. Amélie and the audience have learned that you'll get what you want against all odds, since 1) true love is destiny, and 2) your true love will save you; there's no incentive for her to become proactive and confront her weaknesses. And why should she? Weakness is the ultimate attractive/romantic trait in this type of fiction. In real life, Nino would probably have been offended by Amélie's forwardness (and he definitely would have been had she not been so gosh darn cute).

It's similar in Garden State. Sam has epilepsy, constantly lies, and just acts generally "crazy" (which I happened to interpret as stupid and irritating, but whatever). Andrew hates where he's at in life and doesn't get along with his parents. After spending a weekend together, they're certain they're meant to be together, and Andrew changes his life around to be with her. Again, in my opinion the film should have ended with Andrew boarding the plane and Sam crying in the phone booth...and then possibly realizing what a silly child she's being, because she's only known this guy for 96 hours (according to the film) and he's not that interesting anyway (he's not even attractive).

(Also, we get gems like this:
Andrew: Fuck, this hurts so much.
Sam: I know it hurts. But it's life, and it's real. And sometimes it fucking hurts, but it's life, and it's pretty much all we got.

Thank you, Zach Braff. It's insights like these that make me want to face my fears and live life to its fullest. Or jab my eardrum with a crochet hook. Either one.)

I like movies like Adaptation where Charlie doesn't end up with Amelia. He's too self-conscious and too big of a wuss to make a move. His social ineptitude, however, isn't romanticized. He's not a completely tragic character. Amelia does make a move, but she doesn't completely change her life to be with him. There's also a great moment with the waitress, where he invites her to go to the orchid show. In Garden State or Amélie she would have gone to the orchid show and they would have gotten married (and then the Susan Orlean screenplay would have been written without any problem). Instead, she declines, because that's a pretty forward move for someone you barely know. Charlie's problems with the screenplay also avoid the romantic tragedy treatment. He's having trouble writing the script, but it's not because of some vague omnipotent Ennui, it's because he just can't fucking write it. And he suffers, but he knows that he's to blame and he's his own solution. (Er, almost. Donald to the rescue! I love Donald.)

I want more films where the protagonist doesn't find a Prince Charming to solve all of her issues. I want films where the protagonist doesn't take those strange passive-aggressive stalking measures (à la Amélie), or if she does she gets reprimanded for them. I want films where the protagonist doesn't end up with her soul mate, because it turns out the soul mate thing is a myth and the guy she's been following was actually in a committed, long-term relationship that she happened to overlook. I don't want escapist cinema; I want real life.

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