Wednesday, June 30, 2010

She lived happily (and single) ever after . . .

Congratulations! You were lucky enough to win a spot on Family Feud (back when the show was still cool because Richard Karn rocked the house). You’re only a few points away from victory, and if you get this next question right you will have done enough to send the other team packing. You brace yourself, feeling your hand creep closer to the buzzer, lips tingling with the anticipation of your next answer...

“Name a movie that ends with a woman falling in love with - or perhaps marrying - the man of her dreams.”

Pfft. Forget that. You’ve already won.

Why does it seem like 99.9% of books, movies, TV shows, songs, and [insert example here] culminate with the female lead falling in love, finding a boyfriend, getting married, or some variance of the three? I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently, and popular culture seems to think a woman’s ultimate goal is to wait patiently until she's swept away by her "prince charming." And while I, too, am a huge fan of love (at least the idea of it), I don’t see why that has to be our main objective in life.

In fact, when I tried to think of a movie that didn’t end with the immensely overrated "and they (implying a man and woman) lived happily ever after," I nearly gave myself a hernia. (It wasn't until after the dizzyness wore off that my brain kindly reminded me that I had seen such a movie. Nice.)

About a month ago my parents went to Canada to celebrate their twenty-something wedding anniversary (did you know Ontario is the new City of Love?), leaving me to defend the homestead. I ended up spending the weekend with one of my best friends, and in our boredom rented a movie called Whip It on On-Demand.

Whip-It is honestly one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long, long time. It stars Ellen Page (the lovable, smart-mouthed heroine of Juno) as Bliss Cavender, a quirky misfit who, like many of us, hasn't found her niche. Bliss's mother, a mail-carrier and former beauty pageant dynamo, expects her daughter to be the same southern belle she had been in her youth, and as you can imagine this creates more than a few problems. In a classic scene of juicy rebellion, Bliss shows up to a pageant with dyed-blue hair. Aww yeah.

The theme of the movie "be your own hero" isn't exactly original, but I found myself intrigued by the subculture of roller derby women Bliss eventually finds herself connecting with (and with names like Maggie Mayhem, Smashley Simpson, Iron Maven, and Rosa Sparks, can you blame me?). These women are tough, fearless, and unique (to say the least), and the young teen is soon welcomed into their ranks as Babe Ruthless, discovering a talent - and toughness - she never knew she had.

So, why did I bring this up?

You see, Bliss eventually falls for the lead singer/guitarist of a punk rock band, Oliver. They hit it off, he's great, he's cute, we're subject to several mushy scenes of their budding relationship . . .

But when Mr. Cool leaves to go on tour things turn ugly. First, he doesn't answer Bliss's calls when she actually needs him (i.e. after storming out of her house after a particularly nasty argument with her mother). Then, in an act that would win my dad's coveted "Dumbass Award," he gets involved with a new girl, and has the audacity to give her a shirt that Bliss had given to him.

And of course, he posts this all online. Ugh.

To make a long story short, Bliss realized what a complete jerk Oliver was. Sure, she had her moments of devastation (can you blame her?), but in the end she didn't need him to realize her own happiness. She went on to kick butt, eventually becoming this insane roller derby prodigee, and that is how the movie ended. Not with a cliche kiss, or a boyfriend, or a soulmate. And definitely not with a wedding.

If you missed my point, this whole obsession with finding "prince charming" has got to stop, ladies. Love will happen in time (if that's what you really want), but tying your own happiness, worth, and sense of accomplishment to whether or not you have a boyfriend is just ridiculous. Don't you think it's time we start making our own happy endings?

Want to check out the official trailer for "Whip It"? (You're welcome.)


  1. Another movie (if you're interested) that doesn't end with a cliche "Happily every after" relationship is "Becoming Jane" (starring Anne Hathaway). I really enjoyed that movie because of the fact that it didn't end as a perfect fairy tale, the girl didn't get her guy, etc. It's based on a real story, so it's a lot more true to life than any rom-com could ever be.
    I think I'll have to watch "Whip It", though. Thanks for that. :)
    And thank you for this post, and this blog. It's fabulous and I'll be following you. (I found you through the fBomb)

  2. It's funny you say that: my mom bought "Becoming Jane" a while ago but it's been sitting in our cabinet and I've just never got around to watching it. I'll have to check it out; thanks for the suggestion!

    And thank YOU for reading my blog :) I've never really had anyone read my writing before (I was too shy), so seeing that I actually have "followers" just boggles my mind!

    And I'm happy, because it's pretty amazing meeting young women who actually give a crap about the same stuff I do! ^^

  3. I'll check that out. Your post reminds me of the two Miss Congeniality films. In the begining, Gracie is a young woman/tomboy in the FBI. She gets coerced into impersonating a beauty contestant. There's this "sexy make-over" scene which is rather disgusting. And at the end of the first movie, she's with a guy, but reverts. In part two, he leaves her and she becomes a fake. However, at the very end, she reaffirms her true nature and doesn't have a love interest. It's up to interpretation, I think...
    I loved your point. I went to a pseudo-feminist girls' school, for a while, where they touted their strong female character required reading. Like poster kids, lots of the students would commend this. I never saw the characters that way. There's the shy one who loves her no-good boyfriend so much they have unprotected sex while she's 16. The one who lets her uncle molest her for a quarter....and Romeo & least they didn't try to pass THAT off.
    I've complained about this for years. When I was 12 my mom gave me the Alana quartet. I've heard the hype, but don't get it. Maybe the first book. But once she starts sleeping with men at 15 (which is portrayed as positive step in your development), one has to wonder.
    Maybe the point is "Oh, you can be tough and still be normal!" Or maybe, they're feminist because they aren't as un-f as most characters?


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