Twilight, The Notebook, and other smooshiness . . . “Soulmates” on the screen

So I graduated with a masters in Media Psychology recently, and I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with this cool-ass degree in a crap-ass economy.  At the moment, I’m working a temp job as a receptionist.  No seriously – at this EXACT moment.  I’m typing this from work.

Yes, I’m allowed to be on the computer during work hours if there’s nothing else to do. Thanks for your concern about my work ethic and productivity.
So I’ve been kicking around the idea of writing a blog about Media Psychology, and obviously I’ve just started one.  There are a few things that prompted me to start yammering about this topic – and you’ll find out what several of them are in the coming weeks.  (I forsee a lot of sitting here at a desk with little to do.  Ahhhhh, the life of a temp.)

 

Today’s blog post was prompted by a blog I read recently that pissed me off.
How I Know My Wife Married the Wrong Person.

Now the blog itself didn’t piss me off.  It was a decent little verbiage about why this man disagreed with the idea of “soulmates.”  It was well-written, with Christian overtones (which is neither here nor there to me), and the underlying message he gives is:
Singles today (and most married couples too) are searching for super-spouses that simply don’t exist. People expect far too much from their spouse in all the wrong areas.

Totally agree.

 

So what pissed me off?

This line.
“For quite some time now, there has been a myth floating around our idealistic individualistic society. A myth that claims that marriage will only work when you find your ‘smoking-hot, high-class, filthy rich, love-at-first-sight, sexually compatible, accept-me-as-I-am, Titanic-Notebook-Sweet-Home-Alabama-Twilight-esque, soul mate.’ “

 

I agree with everything until the part he starts quoting romantic movies.
That’s the part that pisses me off.

 

Now, I’m not a fan of romantic movies.  Sci-Fi is my genre of choice.  Sure, I like a bit of romance thrown in with my robots and aliens,

The Who, the Han, and the Frakin' Admiral
The Who, the Han, and the Frakin’ Admiral with their ladies,
Bad Wolf, I-Am-Not-A-Committee, and the Frakin’ President of the Colonies.

but if an entire movie is about a relationship, or relationships – meh, I’m just not that into it.

HOWEVER –
I have watched three of the four aforementioned movies.  Titanic, Sweet Home Alabama, and Twilight.  Yes, all of the Twilights.  Yes, I read the books too.  Yes, I liked them, and I have a perfectly good explanation for my admiration . . . which I’ll probably format into a blog post later.  Can we move on now?

 

Titanic I watched because I love film, and all the filmmakers were raving about it.  I decided I wanted to see it on the big screen, so I did.  I was apprehensive because – seriously.  You know how the film ends.  The boat sinks, lots of people die, end of movie.  I wasn’t sure what they could do with it.  And to be honest – I’m a little meh about the thing.

Jack and Rose

There are a serious of events that lead to me watching Sweet Home Alabama, and I imagine I’ll do a blog post about that time in my life as well.  (Gee, I already have all kinds of ideas for blog posts.  Why haven’t I done this blogging thing sooner?)  Suffice to say, it was a strange occurrence that I watched the thing, and while I like Reece Witherspoon,

Reese

and Matthew McConaughey . . .

wait, that WASN’T Matthew McConaughey?  It was Josh Lucas?  Seriously?  So thought that was Matthew McConaughey.  Anyway, let’s just say I’ve seen Sweet Home Alabama, and it’s one of the few songs I can play on guitar.

Which has nothing to do with this blog topic.

 

What DOES have things to do with this blog topic, is how irritable I get when people place fictional characters in a neat little box.

Now sure, there are always some flat, one-sided characters whose sole purpose is to portray a stereotype,

Hakuna Matata

or provide a plot device,

Grievous

or be eye candy,

Magic Matthew

On a side note, after a quick Google search for kicks and giggles, I discovered Josh Lucas’s own mother can’t keep him and McConaughey straight.

 

ANYWHO, to designate the lovers in most romantic movies (or at least these three) as “soulmates” is not only a character stereotype, it’s an incorrect one.

 

Wikipedia defines soulmates as “a person with whom one has a feeling of deep or natural affinity.”  This is a broad definition, so I’ll tweak it further by suggesting when most people envision a soulmate, they imagine two people who are destined to be together – that one partnership that is perfect, easy, totally romantic, no problems, just BOOM – you’re hit with a lightning bolt, you fall in love, and you live happily ever after.

For the record, there were real lightning bolts in Sweet Home Alabama.

So think about this for a minute.  If a soulmate relationship is easy, if it’s perfect, if it’s instantly recognizable and identifiable by the two parties involved, then HOW BORING WOULD A MOVIE ABOUT THIS BE?!??!

Boy meets girl, lightning bolts hit around them, they kiss, get married, and live happily ever after.

Credits roll.
Crowd riots because they’ve spent $20 on a ticket and popcorn for a three minute movie.

 

Reese and Matth. . . er, Josh fought THE ENTIRE MOVIE.  They fought right up to the very end.  She dang near married somebody else.  That she really really liked.

In Titanic, we meet Rose as an old woman at the beginning of the movie.  She has a granddaughter.  She lived a long and seemingly happy life.  She married after losing Jack.  She loved again, but Jack held a special place in her heart.  *cue Celine Dion*

In Twilight, Bella and Edward were both broadsided by their attraction.  Bella didn’t even realize what it was until later on.  Edward fought his attraction to her for Bella’s safety.  He even struggled with the idea that the only reason he was attracted to her was because he wanted to kill her.  And they disagreed constantly.

 

My point is, a movie with a love story as the central theme is often poo-pooed and scorned.  The characters are labeled (as in the “How I Know My Wife Married the Wrong Person” blog) as soulmates, and the story is dismissed as fluff.  These three movies (and probably the fourth one – again, haven’t seen it) are NOT about soulmates.  They are about two people who fell in love, and the conflicts and problems and dialogue and situations they experienced surrounding that love.  The characters struggled – sometimes against their own selves – to reach the conclusion of the story and maybe they wound up together and maybe they didn’t.  A movie about two characters who fall in love and give up easily is just as boring as a movie about two characters who fall in love and it works perfectly the first time.

 

Now there are movies out there that explore the concept of soulmates.  What Dreams May Come is a great example of one.  But it wasn’t easy for those characters, either.  Conflict is the basis of every story.  Without it, there is no story to tell.

 

Love isn’t easy.  It isn’t supposed to be.  It’s messy, it’s hard, it’s full of strife and disappointments, and can be filled with frustration – and this process can make a fantastic story.

 

 

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2 thoughts on “Twilight, The Notebook, and other smooshiness . . . “Soulmates” on the screen

    1. I have heard of twin flames. From what I understand it’s a metaphysical explanation for the idea of soul mates, and ties into the idea of past lives. I’m fascinated by the past life theory, and personally believe those relationships (romantic and otherwise) in our lives that connect strongly are simply echos of relationships we’ve had with these same souls in previous lives.

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