It may come as a surprise to many of you when I say that I love romantic comedies. But until just recently, I had instituted a strict, self-imposed ban on these kinds of movies. Because as it turns out, I may love them just a little too much.
The greatest lie that Hollywood ever told the world was that it was real. I’d like to think that we’re all mature and aware enough to know the difference between the movies and real life. That kind of overt dichotomy is not how Hollywood gets you.
It’s more subtle than that. Certain snapshots, pickup lines, sweet notions and scenarios, fall leaves falling here, nostalgic music playing there, all of it creeps and blends and mingles into our sub-conscience until the lines between real life and the dream world of the movies are blurred. That’s how Hollywood distorts our reality.
If you happen to be single and you ingest these cinematic candies on a regular basis, you can slowly poison yourself. One thing that happens is that you begin to long, and longing can make you feel pathetic, especially when you find yourself watching these movies by yourself on a Friday night alone with a bottle of Chianti, laughing uproariously with a mouthful of Doritos chips (I’m not speaking from experience here. I’m not.)
What can also happen is that you start regurgitating impossible lines and harboring impossible expectations, holding yourself and others to impossible standards. Without even knowing it you’ll find yourself saying things like:
- “Stop. Just Stop. You had me at Hey.” (“You had me at Hello.”—Jerry Maguire)
- “You make want to be a better me.” (“You make me want to be a better man.”—As Good as it Gets)
- “I’ll never let go.” (“I’ll never let go, Jack”—Titanic)
How many times have we seen in movies the confident guy walking into a bar, approaching an attractive girl, saying the perfect line and ending the night at her place? Now, what percentage of the time do you think this actually works in real life? Would you say 10% of the time?
The answer is zero. 0% of the time does this actually work. In the movies, you can banter playfully with each other at the bar, each character setting the other up with perfect lobs and spikes. In real life, you battle 70 people to get the bartender’s attention, pay $17 for her cranberry vodka and watch sadly as she parties the rest of the night with everyone but you, her free beverage in hand.
If your answer was anywhere north of 0%, your reality has been distorted to some degree by Hollywood unreality. I recognized that my number was embarrassingly high and I quickly instituted an embargo on all things sappy to bring my head (and my heart) back to Earth.
And it worked, but I think a little too well. I stopped believing that lovely things could happen, and worse, that I should stop trying to do lovely things. I developed a coldness toward romance, when before I let it charm and mesmerize me. For a while, I attributed this to “growing-up”, but it was something altogether different. A part of me wasn’t being fed any more, and looking back now, I didn’t like the jaundiced look that this starvation produced.
That was a long-winded set up so let me get to the point. I, like everyone else, has that one friend who lives life comfortably within the blur of the movie world and the real world. Unapologetically, they live their life to a soundtrack, blending soulful tunes with times of great reflection, mixing beats of rhythm with the beats of life.
How often do we roll our eyes at these dreamers? We dismiss them as not being serious people. This would be fair if we’re also willing to acknowledge that, to them, we’re taking ourselves way too seriously. Who’s to say who’s right?
Last week, I had the honor of watching my college roommate propose to his girlfriend in front of hundreds of strangers. In the back, all his loved ones and all her loved ones were gathered in happy anticipation. On stage and on his knees, ring out, in front of the woman he loved, the crowd serenaded them with the chorus, “We could be amazing.” The mood was light and festive.
In that moment a thought occurred to me that made me smile…that this could be a scene straight out of a movie.
Whether we roll our eyes or not, I think even the coldest calculators among us need that friend who moves the needle to a place more playful than the world we currently occupy. They remind us time and again that we could be amazing if we just believed.
I can go on and on, but isn’t that a fitting and far-too-corny ending to this post?
We could be amazing. I mean, why not right?