To borrow a turn of phrase from the hilarious Lewis Black, in 2003 the state of California decided that it would rather live in a movie than in real life, and it elected former actor and professional body builder Arnold Schwarzenegger as its governor. Apparently, however, there are more people than we realize out there in the community and around the world that feel the same way. No, they aren't all going Ronald Regan and electing former actors to their government positions, but as it turns out they ARE letting romantic comedy movies control their lives and make them feel bad. Especially in Australia.
As it turns out, roughly half of 1000 Australians polled in a recent survey said that "rom-coms with their inevitable happy endings have ruined their view of an ideal relationship." Wow. So people are feeling bad about themselves because their love lives don't always end up like to romantic comedy movies that are beamed into their televisions or movie theaters. Wow. Apparently, somewhere along the way we forgot about the idea behind the concept of a movie, now didn't we folks. We have forgotten that movies are supposed to be stories, things that aren't true, and generally things that aren't plausible. All that Independence Day stuff? Possible but not likely. You've Got Mail? Possible but not likely. Super Troopers? Possible and hilarious but not likely. Do you see a pattern developing here, Company? The hallmark of a good movie (aside from documentaries or mockumentaries) is that it is generally something that is possible, so that we think it might happen to us someday, but not likely, so that we can sort of live in a fantasy land.
And therein lies the problem. While the fantasy land aspect of the movies is pretty plain, it is that nagging hope that seems to be getting us every time. Let's turn back to the survey a little bit and see what some of the so-called experts had to say. Gabrielle Morrissey, an Australian relationship counselor, noted "It seems our love of rom-coms [Editor's Note: I fucking hate that term.] is turning us into a nation of 'happy-ever-after addicts.' Yet the warm and fuzzy feeling they provide can adversely influence our view of real relationships." She continues on by telling us that "Real relationships take work and true love requires more than fireworks." Now, I have watched a lot of Cosby Show episodes, and I have watched a lot of real life relationships build and bend and break and persevere and implode and just about everything else, and I had pretty much already figured that out on my own. How much do you earn in a year as a relationship counselor to give out that kind of advice? And can you convert that into American dollars so I have a better frame of reference?
The point here is, and all joking aside, that she is right. But unfortunately, our little survey - which was released by Warner Home Video to mark the DVD release of the terrible movie Valentine's Day (oh the irony!) - has shown that we really don't get it. Either the movie plots have gotten so good, or we have become so jaded and stupid, that we just don't understand the difference anymore, and we think our love lives should be identical or parallel to the love lives of all the characters that flicker across our lives. So sad. Because it's not like that, and it's not true. Boys, it's time to wake up and start trying a little harder. Girls, it's time to realize that Mr. Right might not be out there. And for all of us, it's time to have some reasonable expectations that we just have to put in the effort. There is no movie magic in our real lives.