Tuesday, September 14, 2010

but that's alright because i love the way you lie

Sooooo my goal is to write a really solid romantic comedy one of these days. something simple but genuine and semi-realistic (not see-their-zits realistic, obviously, but not Leap Year/Ugly Truth/The Proposal chromey-silly stylish-- although truth be told I did kinda like The Proposal BUT anyway). I've been chewing on it for awhile and I guess I'll have to chew on it some more because I really don't know what I can say about relationships at present. Although I'm not a huge fan of 500 Days of Summer (aside from the PRECIOUSNESS that is Joseph-Gordon Levitt) I really liked one of the (indirect) points that the film seemed to be making about connectivity that I think is a real issue amongst certain people- IE hipsters and most people I know: it seems like my type of person, IE the type that is interested in something real rather than hookups and clubbin' and leading a pointless Britney Spears existence has begun to define themselves by the things they like. Because the "realistic" person (as i shall call them) seems to be drawn to a certain style of thing, that thing has begun to represent what is "real" and "genuine." This is an actual, strong trend that I feel began in the 90's (obviously you'll always feel more compatible with someone with similiar tastes, however it's become more than that). As Nick Hornby identified in High Fidelity-- "it's no longer what you're like, it's WHAT you like."

I am guilty of it, and I think most my ilk is as well. We are sort of obsessive and possessive about the types of things we like, and our connection to certain pieces of art becomes magnified in our desire to allow it to define us. We want to loan people books or films that we feel will help others to understand who we really are (i certainly do that with Salinger, Ghost World, Wes Anderson films, Aimee Mann whom I have long felt "sings my life"). Then of course when we find someone who is the same, who likes all of the same things and feels the same connection to our "stuff" we interpret that as a connection to us. It makes us feel identified, included and exclusive. Us special people GET IT, and that's why we love each other.

I think some of that is acceptable, to a certain extent, because we believe it so strongly that to a point it becomes true. However, our "likes" have become the "deep person's" way of connection now, when really that should only be a small part of it. Facebook and stuff like it only worsens the issue. I know when I find out that someone I find interesting is into something like "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest" or Fritz Lang or old records or whathaveyou, I instantly think we have something because those things carry significance to me. I know on the rare occasions that I've been really interested in a guy I've told my friend that so-and-so said he liked such-and-such! ahh! squee. It's really kind of a problem that only assists in keeping us at arm's length. Of course, that doesn't mean that I'm going to stop participating in such a mentality, however I'm definitely going to start trying to be more aware of it in myself and attempt to get to know the individual rather than merely their tastes in music and film. ANYWAY, all this is to say this is something that I feel 500 Days of Summer hints at from time to time. The character of Tom is a hipster, and bases alot of his attraction to Summer on taste and aesthetic and what she is supposed to be. When he's granted access to her apartment, he takes it all in as though all of her objects mean something, like her little paper crane tree is some insight into her soul, and when the relationship starts to go south he tries to reconnect using, of course, pop culture (as well as old traditions of theirs, now grown tiresome). [it's also funny that the nail in the relationship's coffin happens to be a film-- the ending of The Graduate makes Summer realize that she has to end it because they have no idea what they're doing or who they are]

Anyway, the movie is actually about true love, the belief in it and the relentless search for it, however I think the "stuff" theme is present and much more interesting. As well as alerting. At one point Tom says to his (annoying) sister something about how he and Summer talked about Bananafish for 2 hours! gee it's meant to be! and his sister rolls her eyes and replies that just because some chick likes the same weirdo crap that Tom does doesn't mean they are destined. That was a very humbling moment for me, as I realized that if anyone talked to ME for two hours about Bananafish (a Salinger story) that I'd probably be ready to marry 'em. Also, anytime that I've stoppped to think about what qualities a spouse of mine would have to have "love of George Harrison" usually comes first.

I think there's alot of falseness in 500 Days, it seems a little bit more about the shine than the substance and Summer is a character that we never quite crack. Oh, and the last two minutes are hideously miscalculated. BUT I admire it for its (possibly incidental) insight into this particular matter.

I'm presently trying to examine what insight I might possibly have to bring to the rom-com genre, but nothing is coming to mind.

PS, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is so doggone CUTE. I just have to say it.


Sonja said...

I watched that movie with my dad when I was exhausted. Levitt was gorgeous...but I think my favorite part of the movie was when they were talking about love in that sort of documentary style? I really need to watch it again when I'm not so tired so that I can offer something of substance.

This post was really amazing...you are so wise. And so right.

Dad also wanted me to watch the Proposal with him...and I actually enjoyed watching it as something to do with my dad for laughs. The English part of me felt guilty...

Honestly, from the Rom Coms that I've seen -- if you just make the characters, particularly the females, three dimensional, that would be offering insight. I stopped watching rom-coms (except for the rare exceptions when there is someone I want to see or when someone wishes to watch it with me) because I simply could not relate to the female characters or their one sided, ultimately gendered view of relationships...

Katrina said...

The movie's really flawed by putting style over substance, but then again so is the lead character. Anyway, I found it dissatisfying, especially the ending (AUTUMN!!?? really, writers?!?! really?!!?) but I enjoy watching it. That part is really sweet, actually, and I liked the "expectations vs. reality" splitscreen bit. Actually the best scene ever is him post-breakup, buying twinkies and liquor and telling the couple walking by, innocently holding hands to GET A ROOM. oh man i laughed so hard at that.

The Proposal IS pretty funny, both Sandra and Ryan Reynolds are hilarious. I don't mind the silly storyline, but I just wish they hadn't made the movie itself so dumb (the dog? the woodland dance?). Like all big studio rom-coms it goes downhill towards the end.

I have to agree with you that recently the rom-com women are pretty difficult to relate to. I like the 90's rom-coms when the genre was starting to gain momentum. I like While You Were Sleeping and My Best Friend's Wedding and Return To Me [annnd 10 Things, but that's a teen movie]. Recently... well, I liked The Switch. Otherwise it seems like rom-com just has to be found in movies that aren't rom-com by nature (IE Eternal Sunshine, About A Boy, Juno, 40 Year Old Virgin). Sigh. Actually, if what we're looking at is THE BOUNTY HUNTER then maybe the genre's just pretty much DEAD.

Katrina said...

and thank you for saying i'm wise :D you're probably the first person to have ever said that!

Emily Gant McGuire said...

I agree. When I watched 500 Days of Summer, even though I am of the "ilk", I realized how false and shallow it is. I was immediately struck by Joseph's character's obsession with objects, music, and film as his supposed connection with Summer being based on these things.
However, I don't think I grasped it as well as you did.
When I watched it, all I could think about was how incredibly vapid Summer was in the film.
Everything you said is so true, and I'm glad you can see this quality in yourself. I see so many people discount people as friends, romantic partners, whatever because their taste in film or music is slightly different. This movie, though I can relate to the way he feels about her, realize that I am not so blinded by objects, or taste. While James and I are very similar, there are several things we don't agree on. I am substance over style.
I think your blog highlights something very distinctive about some in this generation. Everyone really wants that person that we can connect to in all ways, someone who shares our enjoyment in obscure film, music, or literature because we've let our tastes define us, as though it's some easy ticket to figuring out who we're compatible with.
I didn't go through this in the same way, but in the past I was interested in someone the way Joseph's character was interested in Summer, someone of the "ilk". Over time, I started seeing this person as vain and shallow, and although our intelligence and our taste are very similar, he was quite arrogant, and almost like a mirror reflecting my own disgust with myself. And now I'm marrying the most substance over style man I've ever met in my life, somebody who knows how real relationships work, and even though I can appreciate good taste in other people, I don't use it to define people.