04 August 2009

In touch with their inner Oprah

On the flight home from England I had a plethora of time at my fingertips in which to watch some of the greatest movies currently off market including the latest Dragon Ball Z and Duplicity. Our plane was older and didn't have the handy TV on the back of the other person's seat feature so I had little say in the matter. The only movie I had even the slightest amount of interest in was He's Just Not That Into You, a movie that was funny at times, disturbing in others, and overall rather insulting to single women as every woman in the movie - EVERY woman - was pathetic and desperate and stupid.

It's something that's kind of bothered me ever since. I've realized that one of the biggest problems of being an imaginative female who likes to read is that every literary hero - or nearly every literary hero - that I "fell in love with" growing up (or heroes that my friends love) - were written by a woman.

Think about it.

Darcy.
Rochester.
(That Vampire)
Gilbert.
Thornton.
Heathcliffe.
Brandon.

Heck, even Harry Potter could probably go on that list to an extent. All the men who are held up in modern woman-dom were penned by women. And re-penned by women, because, let's face it, that kind of speech perfection is not obtained in one editing.

And the more I think about it, the more dangerous it feels. Or, at least, the more potentially dangerous it feels. Take, for example, the following links:

Normal Mormon Husband
is a favorite blogger of mine, and he wrote this post a while ago about how he's decided that women are obsessed with (That Vampire) because he is, in fact, a woman. Debate this joke as you will, but when I stumbled upon the response these girls had in a "That Vampire" lexicon, I started to get more than a little concerned. These girls defend this fictional character as though their lives depended on it. They speak about him not just out of literary admiration, but out of a kind of obsession that borders on something that seems rather unhealthy - at least to me. (For example: "lmao that was entertaining, but not entirely accurate…i would just like to point out that bella notices consistently throughout Twilight that Edward does not talk like a normal teenager; you wanna know why??? BECAUSE HE WAS BORN IN 1901!!! of course his vocabulary is more refined than your average male! he is almost a century old, and he was born in a time when men WERE generally more “refined”…tsk tsk tsk, this man needs to do his research!!!")

Granted, this is coming from the girl who has admittedly read Harry Potter and Anne of Green Gables more times than I am years old (by a lot) - but I would like to think that I do know the difference between fiction and reality - between fun trivia and not letting "dreams" get in the way of "reality."

I guess, then, that this post is almost the antithesis to my previous post: dreams (or dream men) are all fine and good, but I think the female population would do well to remember that carefully constructed and edited men in breeches no longer exist, and may not have ever existed. It is not fair to the "less-fair sex" to expect the unexpectable.

It reminds me of a scene from an episode of Road to Avonlea in which the town has been half taken over with obsession over a Valentine's dance at the hotel. Background: Boy named Gus asks girl named Felicity. Felicity says 'yes of course'. Boy named Arthur also asks Felicity. Felicity says she's already going with someone else, but thank you very much, and proceeds to be happy about two men fighting over her. New girl named Suzette moves temporarily into the hotel and causes a bit of a stir because she falls for Gus.

About half way through the episode, Gus shows up to see Felicity at home and to apologize for something. Felicity brings up Suzette's flirting with Gus. Gus says "Well, she may be a lot prettier than you, Felicity, but that doesn't matter to me!"

Felicity slams the door in his face.

In the background you hear Felicity's mother say "Felicity - if you slam the door on every boy who puts his foot in his mouth, you're going to need iron hinges."

I guess, then, my point is this: I wonder at how many girls (or boys) have built up ideals for themselves that don't exist, and end up passing by perfectly good opportunities because they are too besotted with something fictional. I don't think it's fair for either side to expect perfection in their companion. I would certainly hope that, if I ever say something stupid (I know, dream big,) or don't look my best, or make a mistake, that my guy won't think less of me, any more than I hope that I would do the same for him. It's all a matter of perspective and patience - recognizing that sometimes our dreams should be altered to fit reality - and coming to the realization that, in the end, reality is often better then some kind of sterile, fantastical dream.

10 comments:

Bill said...

I'm so glad that you see it this way. True, it's nice to see these "ideals" in literature... but they're extremes, hyperboles with which to drive a point home.

Two quotes come to mind:

"Far better than any dream girl [or boy] is one of flesh and blood. One warm... and caring... and right before your eyes."

And, from one of my favorite literary sages, "It does not do to dwell in dreams and forget to live."

Brava, Joni. Brava. :-)

Asenath said...

Thought 1: When someone first told me that Twilight was porn for girls, I thought it was an extreme conclusion. But one of the reasons porn is so bad is that it gives the viewer unrealistic expectations about what things should be like. Isn't then, to some extent, Twilight (and Pride and Prejudice and every other romance novel) pornographic? If we hold men up that unrealistic ideal that they can never reach

Thought 2: You ending paragraphs reminded me of the end of Hitch where he says that his job is to give all the "normal" guys out there a fighting chance. Its true: how often do we ignore the fantastic people around us, chasing an ideal that can never exist?

Joni said...

Asenath: I completely agree. It's one of those really interesting binaries of life - reading and the human body: Both good. In the wrong context and when used obsessively and not in moderation (re: those really obsessive readers/porn) - it's evil. While I'm not saying that Twilight is evil, or Pride and Prejudice, or the human body - people have the ability to take these "good" things and obsess over them so much that it halts progression.

Rachel EM said...

Wait wait wait wait. Are you telling us that YOU haven't "built up ideals for [yourself] that don't exist," and that you aren't "besotted with something fictional"?

The Girl in the Other Room said...

I'm very surprised to see "That Vampire" on your list of loved fictional characters. Last time I tried to have a chat with you about the various merits of the Twilight series, you about bit my head off in telling my how stupid and innane they were. Explain please.

Joni said...

Heather: I do believe I added the addendum of "or that my friends love", since I also despise Heathcliffe ;)

Rachel: I think everyone has unattainable ideals and I'm not trying to count myself out from that. I'm just saying that I try not to let them hold me back. I don't think anyone is a master at this - hence the idea that prayer matches our ideals with His.

Rachel EM said...

Thank you, sage Joni. Romantic ideals ARE matched to His by prayer when in faith you follow the spirit and know what's really of value. I'm not sure if that's what you meant by that, but the juxtaposition of your words made me think.

Also-- I just wanted to hear you admit that you have attachments to literary characters too. Silly me, I wanted you to admit that you're fallible. But you aren't someone I would ever describe as having her head in the clouds; you are incredibly grounded and have better knowledge of reality than just about anyone I know. OF COURSE you'd see through things of no value: you see the truth of things. :)

Karin said...

Heathcliffe, really??? Who would ever fall in love with that creep???

Joni said...

Oh, I agree. That was for a handful of my England buddies who (for some great unknown reason) fell hard for Heathcliffe. I hate the guy too, no worries.

Cathryn Matheson said...

Good thoughts. And you're making me want to reread the Avonlea books I dug up at my mom and dad's house last week. :)

Hey, can I ask you a favor? Can I pick your brain? http://mrsmathesonyearone.blogspot.com/2009/08/out-of-best-books.html (Sorry, it's kind of long, but I really would love your advice.)