January 22, 2012
Fiction Versus Fact
There's nothing that can depress me like watching a great romantic movie. After I've watched an overly romantic movie* and I'm feeling down because I've never had a love like that, I remind myself that life is not like the movies. And this is how I like to do that: I think about those romance movies and the actresses who starred in them and what their real Hollywood romances have been like as opposed to the Hollywood fantasy of romance and love I just saw...................
While You Were Sleeping -- One of my favorite romantic comedies and set during the holiday season just to add to the punch. It's about a case of mistaken identity. A transit worker saves a man who's fallen on the subway tracks. The man is left in a coma and she's mistaken for the man's fiancee. She and coma guy's brother end up falling in love and the brother proposes to her before they've even had their first kiss. They marry and honeymoon in Florence where the woman had always dreamed of going. While You Were Sleeping stars Sandra Bullock. Sandra Bullock who, after a string of relationships, married Jesse James, a man whose children she raised and who she publicly praised and adored and a man who famously cheated on her with a tattoo covered model.
Ghost -- A movie about a love so profound death couldn't stop it. Starring Demi Moore --- Three marriages. Three divorces. (Okay, technically the third divorce hasn't been finalized yet.) The last marriage was to Ashton Kutcher who famously cheated on her with much younger women. (Yeah, who didn't see that coming? Only the same people who thought that marriage would last.)
City of Angels -- An angel gives up heaven to be with the woman he loves. It's the movie with what I think is one of the great romantic lines of all time, "I would rather have had one breath of her hair, one kiss of her mouth, one touch of her hand, than eternity without it. One," said after the woman is killed in a bicycle accident after their one night together. Stars Meg Ryan who also starred in a couple of other great modern romances, Sleepless in Seattle and When Harry Met Sally. Meg Ryan was living with actor Anthony Edwards when she got involved with Dennis Quaid. She and Quaid married and eventually divorced after an affair with co-star Russell Crowe on a movie shoot in steamy South America. Since then she's been in a number of relationships, none permanent.
Pretty Woman -- Hooker and john find true love amidst the high life of Beverly Hills. Starring Julia Roberts in the role that made her uber-famous. Julia Roberts whose engagement to Kiefer Sutherland fell to pieces shortly before their extravagant wedding when she ran off with one of his friends. Julia Roberts whose first marriage to country crooner Lyle Lovett ended in divorce in less than two years. Julia Roberts who after a succession of men finally married camera man Daniel Moder. And that seems to be lasting. But I'm not going to hold my breath.
And this dichotomy between on-screen love and off-screen love isn't a new one. Go back to the golden years of Hollywood................
Casablanca -- The ultimate story of star-crossed lovers. As summed up in the movie, "Where I'm going, you can't follow. What I've got to do, you can't be any part of. Ilsa, I'm no good at being noble, but it doesn't take much to see that the problems of three little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. Someday you'll understand that." Starring Ingrid Bergman. Bergman came close to destroying her career over her love affair with director Roberto Rossellini. Her marriage to Rossellini was her second marriage. They divorced. Bergman's third and final marriage also ended in divorce.
Gone with the Wind --- The story of Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler in the tumult of the Civil War and Reconstruction. The married Vivien Leigh was in the middle of her great romance with the also married Laurence Olivier when she portrayed Scarlett. Their marriage endured for over twenty years before her mental illness proved too much, and they divorced.
So whenever all the fantasy romances I see from Hollywood start to get to me and I start thinking "That's actually how things are supposed to go, but why didn't it ever go like that for me?," I give myself a shake and take a look around me. I think of the marriages of the people I've known in my life. In my entire life, I've only seen a handful of good marriages. Most of the marriages I've seen range from mediocre to bad. I think of the weddings I've attended.....all starting off with bright hope and too many ending in misery. I think of all the divorces that people I've known have had. (I know one guy on his sixth divorce. That's extreme. But nowadays, two divorces is commonplace.) And if that's not enough for me to realize just how much of a feel-good fantasy Hollywood is pushing on us, I look at the lives of the actresses themselves.
Hollywood makes those movies. And we like to watch those movies because they are fantasies. In real life, love and marriage just aren't like that. Not only for me or my friends, but even for the women who starred in the movies.
So I think about all that. And then I don't feel so down anymore.
*Written after I just finished watching The Time Traveler's Wife.
The end of that Hollywood rainbow is disappointment.
For more of my take on Hollywood read "Hollywood's Bizarre Take on Rape," "Star Wars, Einstein and When Lucas Got It Right," "The Old Yeller Abyss," or "The (Not So) Great Zombie Apocalypse." Please take a moment to check-out the Archive.