The options are not “hero of the story”, “villain”,
“love/lust interest”or “dead in a gutter”.
Movies are a way to tell a story and an art form, but they are not representational or reality. Unless it is a documentary, it is more like a fable than an account of events. Even documentaries strongly slant what you see to send the message they are looking to send, creating major confirmation bias.
Movies are like cartoons, comics and sock puppet shows.
They are entertainment, meant to evoke feelings and cater to fantasies.
(Warning, this post is from the brief period when I was “trying to blog the right way”, my apologies if the tone is too directive or otherwise made of gurr.)
Men and women on screen are designed to satisfy the fantasies of people paying for the tickets, so they can make money. Which is why the rugged yet handsome dude, gets to acquire a slightly spunky but compliant pretty girl. Because in many cases a guy buys a ticket, to go on a date with a girl, to hopefully prime her for sex later. This is not the only option, and not all movies are like this, but I want to bring it to your attention, so you can understand a lot of the motive behind modern movie plots, costuming and cast.
Movies are scripted and highly controlled. Every scene is filmed multiple times until it is perfect and every line and look and nuance is scripted. The scripting and multiple tries is why onscreen people look more graceful than real people. When they make mistakes, the scene gets cut.
You can have much of the fun and romance and sexy fantasies
of movies in real life, but not without a build in blooper reel.
Pretty pretty prince: In the real world what you look like matters most to you and doesn’t tell the rest of us what kind of a person you are. Your wrapping paper does not matter, as long as it is clean and neat. Really, I would rather be with a guy or a girl that makes me laugh, is interesting to talk with and has their own style, than a movie star any day. This is true for most people worth talking with.
In real life there is more that one win condition. If something gets seriously messed up, it does not make you the “the messed up one” and something else will work better at another time (especially if you do not give up). Movies have a ridiculously out of scope sense of urgency and forgone conclusion, it is a device to create excitement, but excitement does not equate with happiness or contentment as often as media would suggest. Life is not predetermined, your choices matter every time and sometimes many options are good and sometimes none. While your choices matter, if no one is dead, most things are fixable. It would be awesome if people did not get hurt, and at the same time humans are pretty resilient. A lot of people will tell you that if you mess up H.S., college, sex, marriage, etc… your life is ruined forever and you are doomed. They are WRONG. It will make it harder for a while, but I am pretty sure that they had trouble with half of those things too, as well as some others. Which is why they are trying to warn you to protect you from getting hurt. The apathy and fear you get instead is an unintended bonus.
If you always feel like everything is wrong and can never be better, you might be having trouble with the mood/state dependent memory loop. It can be like a low numbing hum in the back of your brain telling you not to bother or it can be confusion as to what to do to make it better or it can be fear of trying and failing. For any of these, finding people who have a life that doesn’t suck to talk with you about what to actually do or a counselor (but not meds unless you tried other options first, for a while and it is not helping enough), might help change your narrative and help you work up the momentum to make stuff better. Failing all of those, do yoga or join a chorus or go hiking or go walk for 5 minutes; if your body moves, so will your mind.
No matter how used to being unhappy someone is, they can get to build a happy life by changing themselves and their environment for the better. It takes time and effort and conscious understanding that it is possible to not be type casted. While it is not trivial, there is a simple trick, the more time you spend with people who you admire and who inspire you, the more like them you will become and the easier it will be for your environment to improve. If you are not up to that yet, go look at Ted Talks and see what resonates for you and try to move closer to that type of real.
Emotions! Emotions! Emotions! On screen it looks like when a character feels something, they are stuck following through on that feeling no matter how dumb or impulsive it is. Often with good results at the end. It doesn’t show conflict within enough. Most people are often conflicted about what the right thing to do is, and make different choices depending on the situation and different from each other. Movies show robots more than people. People need more time to think to make good choices and when everything is rushed and looks like a massive on screen emergency, bad stuff happens in real life. Also, while regulating your emotions is damn hard to learn for some of us, it is not impossible. I can’t find a good resource on internal conflict that isn’t about creating more fun stories, if you do, drop me a note and I will link it.
The hardest parts of figuring out relationships happen after the end of the movie and a good life partner is not always the exciting and dangerous asshole. I used to love love love that feeling of being excited and slightly scared of someone who was a stranger and paying attention to me, it felt like what I thought falling “in love” was supposed to be. NO. It is not. While falling in lust is fine for some people and excitement of new interest releases a lot of oxytocin and other neurochemicals, and makes you feel like you are on top of the world; sustainable feelings of in love don’t work like that. Would you make long term decisions while high on coke or speed, if not, consider your judgement similarly impaired when the romance/flirtation/lust cycle starts. Check out some of the ways to think about love styles here, especially mania.
If your life is messy and complicated and confusing and non glamorous, you are not doing it wrong. If it looks like others are doing better, remember that what you get to see is their facade, while in your own life you also get to see the back of the closet. Don’t compare, seriously, the only thing that does is makes you feel like crap. Feel free to dream up a better you and work towards it, compete with the you of yesterday not other people, but not harshly because anxiety makes everything work less well. Movies mostly can not show you people who can exist in the real world. They resonate with, but do not reflect reality. There is no perfect movie-verse you could fit into, that would be like trying to be bugs bunny.
So, to wrap up:
- Accept that real people including yourself can not be perfect. (yeah I know, easier said than done)
- Focus on who you are and move in the direction of being someone you would admire.
- There is more than one win condition and more than one perfect love interest!!!
- Write your own plot. Get help if you don’t know how.
P.S. People love to be asked for their opinion and largely enjoy helping. If you can not think of real people to talk to, try some of the online forums in the resource pages; I will be expanding that section to include more diverse types of communities and possible connections. If none of those are useful or you don’t know where to start, drop me a note and I will try to point you in a useful direction.
Movies are like puppet shows, elaborate oversimplified parodies of life.
Real life is crunchy and sticky and confusing and delicious and varied.