Hey look, it's 2008. Madness, I tell you!
This Christmas my incredibly wonderful mother bought me Love Actually. I highly recommend the movie. This isn't a movie review so I won't go into detail, suffice it to say that the movie follows several different people (who are all connected through friendship/family) in their different stages of love at Christmastime in London. You've got a twelve year old who falls in love with a classmate after his mother's death and a marriage falling apart because of an affair and a couple who fall in love without speaking the same language at all, and others. It's brilliant. It's funny and touching in turns. (And it's set primarily in London which, knowing me, is a HUGE bonus). At the very beginning of the film, you see the phrase "Love Actually is all around", and then the last two words fade off for a second so the phrase turns into "Love Actually is", and then it turns into "Love Actually" as the title of the movie. I'll come back to this in a second. Hang on to your trousers.
The last two episodes of Robin Hood came out this last weekend as well. Now, none of you (that I know of?) watch the show, so I'm not assuming spoilers here, but stop reading now if you care.
I don't want to go into two seasons worth of plot development to tell you why the ending irritated me so much. There are many levels as to why, much of which aren't relevant to this entry. I've geared these responses en masse to the BBC and amongst many forums to spread the word on how moronic the ending was. I'll make it brief. Last season, the writers had Marian stabbed by Guy of Gisborne (the Sheriff of Nottingham's evil leather-clad right hand man). She is "dead", but pulls a Juliet and they find out that she was only drugged by some hemlock by a mean-spirited physician. Some quick surgery later, she's back to life and reunited with her love. All is right with the world and the outlaws get a Newsie-like screen shot at the end of the season to celebrate their victory. Fast forward to last Saturday night, a year after last season ended, and the same scenario presents itself again. The writers have managed to apparate all of the outlaws and Marian and the Sheriff and Guy to the Holy Land between episodes twelve and thirteen (don't ask) and Marian, after hiding her love for Robin from Guy (who also crushes on her) taunts him with declarations of love for Robin. He stabs her with a sword in his anger at the betrayal, and Marian dies on the sand with Robin next to her after they do some quick impromptu wedding vows. Two of the outlaws end up deciding to stay behind in the Holy Land, and Robin and his reduced band of three merry men walk back to Nottingham (or apparate, I suppose). No happy ending. No reassurance that things are good. (Keep in mind, Americans- this is aired during the family hour of BBC television. It's a show mothers watch with their children because it's clean and bloodless and funny).
Reactions to this have been fairly universal - nearly everyone is furious that the BBC would kill off Marian. Aside from the particularly horrible way of doing it, most comments include something to the effect of: "It's Marian! You can't have Robin without Marian." There are a few (very very few) comments from people saying that they liked the reality of the ending because life doesn't always churn out happy endings for people, but (as I said) most people have pretty adamantly declared that they don't care how Marian comes back (re-write the last two episodes, have it all be a dream/hallucination/whatever), but she'd better come back or they won't be watching the next series. I'm fairly sure that I'm one of them. Who wants to watch a bunch of boys run around sword fighting for some huge cause when you can't narrow it down to one specific reason? Watching Robin do ground control in Nottingham isn't nearly as urgent if there isn't the promise of marrying his girl at the end.
Ok. So one more shift, bear with me. The point is coming.
I saw Enchanted tonight with my mom and sister and a friend of mine. I was a little hesitant to see it at first - so much sugar in a film tends to make me feel rather sick, but I thought the movie was rather clever in the end. It was cheesy, of course, but it also made fun of itself so it wasn't so hard to swallow. It's about a girl named Giselle from a fairy tale who falls through a well into New York City after being pushed by an evil stepmother. She's found in the middle of her search for her prince by Robert - a single father who works (I think?) as a divorce attorney and (as a result), believes that marriages aren't happy, necessarily - they're just successful if they last long enough for the couple to die still married. The ever optimistic Giselle disagrees (obviously) and continues to look for romance and a happily ever after.
So what does all this have to do with what's on my mind? I think the conclusion will probably be kind of short. I'm defending romance. It's something I kind of cower from sometimes. The idea of some guy singing me a song or writing me a poem to show me affection makes me feel all embarrassed, but in the end - what's wrong with it? If that's what brings a bit of extra excitement to a relationship, is it so bad?
Beyond that (and probably more serious than that) - we live in a pretty pessimistic world. Look at the responses to Robin Hood and the attitude of Robert from Enchanted: reality isn't a happily ever after, so suck it up and face disappointment. But you know what? I don't need television and movies to tell me that life doesn't always work out. And I don't want to be disappointed in the life I have. I don't anticipate my life being happy all the time, but I don't want to expect misery either. That's what bothers me about Robin Hood. Now all Robin is really living for is death so that after he dies he can be with Marian. But what about life? I want to be happy now. I want to believe that my so-called "happily ever after" can exist now too. I don't want to live with a "happily after (insert event here)" mentality. If we don't have hope for joy in this life, then what are we living for?
Love actually is. It exists. It's the promise of some dreams coming true if we live through nightmares. It's what pushes us forward. Optimism is what keeps us moving, not this so-called "reality/that's life" mentality that prevails in society now. And since when did 'reality' always constitute the horrible parts of life? My reality includes many good things too. Many miracles.
So that's my message to all the nay-sayers in the forums or on the news or whatever other venue we find them in. Life isn't always happy. Relationships don't always work out. Sometimes things fall apart. But not all the time. There is always a hope for something wonderful, and if we don't keep that hope, then we probably deserve what's coming to us.
This is also why I really loathed the end of Robin Hood this season. Because people know that life isn't always happy without the help of the writers of the show. We know that. It's beaten over our heads every day. We don't need another addition to the pessimism pile. Let the outlaw win his lady. Especially in a show geared for families and children.