Tuesday, 23 August 2011
I just read this, an insightful article about the new movie One Day.
It's rare when I get obsessed about the idea of a movie, but this one has me. And it has me the wrong way. As the article gets into, it seems this epic romance is predicated on some toxic foundations and trite gender assumptions.
The basic idea, as Kristy Punchko, the author of the evisceration of the film, gets into is that the movie assumes women are required to better themselves in order to be worthy of a relationship--and then to use that achieved "betterment" to help the guy.
Unfortunately, I believe this a trope in the stories that our culture consumes: the story of the necessary transformation of the girl from "ugly"-duckling to helpful, redeeming swan.
What it reflects are our societies' general assumptions and values of relationships. These assumptions and values are inherently, as Punchko recognizes, toxic.
They lead to a co-dependent idea about the relationship between women and men. That women need men to deem them worthy of love and men need women to redeem them. Either way, this is not a healthy landscape for love.
And if you're thinking, "it's just a movie," then take a moment to think of how the films of your youth affected you, how they played on your emotional configuration and dreams. (Anyone else still waiting to grow legs and get "out of these waters"? No? Just me? Ok.) There has to be a reason these types of stories, in book form and film form, have an audience today. We have been at the whim of their devices since we started watching and reading them. They imply an ready belief in their validity.
So I think this is a call to watch romantic tearjerkers, romantic comedies, romantic "chick flicks" with a critical eye and ask how they are: a) portraying relationships and b) how their portrayal is acted out in our own lives and our own expectations about love.
It would be reassuring to see a story of a female heroine who self-actualizes, and uses that self-actualization to forge a life on her own terms, by herself. Without the validation--or "ultimate" reward--of a man's love. That, maybe, there is a another love that is worth making sacrifices for: the love that comes from self-acceptance.
That is a story I'd pay money to see.
What do you think about this? Do you think a movie can be "toxic?"