As I waited for the previews to end before When In Rome, I was thinking about why I like chick flicks so much. It certainly isn’t because I believe they’re realistic. I don’t even want some perfect-except-for-misunderstanding-x-about-him guy to see me from across the room and follow me around the world. It might be cute in movies, but it would be creepy in real life. No thanks. And I don’t expect to be completed by a relationship, even if it is a great one. I know that problems don’t usually resolve neatly in an hour and a half.
I think it’s exactly because I don’t believe in that stuff that I like to watch those movies. I can suspend reality and enjoy the romantic garbage as long as the movie is playing. I can pretend that “happily ever after” is a completely legitimate start for a relationship. And despite the fact that in real life my natural reaction to mush is usually laughter, I can watch the leading man in a movie say mushy things to the leading lady and I don’t cringe (much).
I think the same is true for any type of movie. You can watch action movies and for an hour and a half believe that you could in fact jump from a burning building to a moving get-away car with nothing more than a few scratches to show for it. There could be a little bit of James Bond or Jason Bourne in everyone. I’m not sure how the parallel would work for comedies… maybe if we tell enough hilarious jokes, everything will work out in the end despite the odds? And for drama, maybe if times were tough, I could make that heroic choice, too. Maybe people are basically good (definitely not what I believe, but that’s for another conversation). Lots of movies are based on real stories, after all… it could happen.
If asked, most of us would be able to tell fact from fiction in real life, but isn’t it more fun to pretend every once in a while? The trick is remembering to go back to the real deal when the movie is over. No jumping into moving cars for me, and no picking coins out of the “fountain of love” either. Sometimes I feed myself such a steady diet of garbage that it gets easier to forget exactly what is real and what’s important. So my goal isn’t necessarily to stop watching movies, but it is to think them through when I’ve finished watching and to feed myself some extra fact to go with all of the fiction. I’m pretty sure The Bachelor doesn’t count.