Suspension of Disbelief: Hollywood’s Fail on Marriage

Hollywood gets a lot of things right. Especially lately. Films are based in reality more than ever before. Case and point is the latest James Bond film, Skyfall. There were some things, obviously, that required a high suspension of disbelief for sure (surviving the fall off the train, the villain’s plans, etc.). But besides that, I’d say most of Skyfall was grounded in reality. Which besides Casino Royale, had never really happened before in the James Bond franchise.

Argo is another great film set it a realistic world. Sure, it was based on a true story which always helps. But that’s never stopped Hollywood before from changing just about everything to make the story more palpable and interesting. See: Any horror movie “based” on a true accounts. Argo was just real. It felt like you were watching the story as it was truly unfolding. It was grounded in reality.

But with marriage, man, they just don’t get it. I never noticed before I was married, but now every time I see a portrayal of married couple on the “big screen” I just shake my head.

That’s not what it’s like! That’s not what it’s about!

Hollywood writes marriage (and love for that matter) from the individual perspective. “How can I be fulfilled?” “What makes me most happy?” It’s like they’re writing about some unfamiliar foreign concept they’ve read about in books.

So here is my best example. Sure, it’s based on a mid-size indie film you probably haven’t heard of because it wasn’t that successful. It’s the 2011 film Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, starring Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt. First off, this movie is just not very good, so take that into account. But I bring it up because of how the story settles. Before I tell you what happens, make sure and read this review quote in the movie poster below. The one about it being a, “feel good charmer.”

(Spoiler) Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

So it’s a romantic movie that tries to bring together Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt. The problem is that he is married and she is committed to a soldier (who becomes a POW). At the end of the movie, they finally realize that they are in “love.” So Ewan leaves his wife and Emily leaves the soldier (literally the next day after he returns).

Ummmm, we’re supposed to feel good about this? As an audience member, I’m not sure I want to root for these people.

All they are doing is chasing their lusts and leaving their families. That’s not what marriage is about. It’s not what love is about. True love, marriage, and relationships, it’s about commitment. Long-term. Seeing through the selfishness and getting through to the other side.

This is what Hollywood doesn’t get right and probably never will. I guess that’s ok. As long as the viewer learns to see it for what it is. Fiction.

Unfortunately, the more we see this stuff acted out on the big screen, the more we become desensitized to this childish behavior. We accept it as true and normal.

I’m not saying married people should stop watching movies. I love the movies. I’m a film nerd for sure. What I’m saying is, may be we should be a little cautious of what we have become to accept as normal.

Modern cinema: based in reality, just not in relationships. It’s as if our suspension of disbelief has shifted away from giant explosions and cool gadgets, to what we now call a relationship.

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