Since I’m doing my best to get some exposure, I frequent as many social networks as I can. More often than not, these Web sites have an “About Me” section with a sub-section for favorite movies. I’m always fascinated with the common threads that tie everyone together. One film title that I constantly find on female social networking profiles is The Notebook. This appalls me, not because it’s a bad movie, per se, but because the romance portrayed in the film represents both everything that’s wrong in relationships and apparently what women want in relationships.
It goes without saying that you shouldn’t read this if you haven’t seen the movie yet.
OK, so we have Noah and Allie and they’re just two crazy kids in love. We’ve all been there. It’s easy to fall in love over the summer when you’re young and silly and having fun lying in the street laughing at stoplights. That’s why, at the end of the day, Allie’s parents were right in splitting them up. What did Allie know about love? She was 17. She knew everything about passion — agreed — but that’s not love. Love — real love — is loving someone when it’s hard, when they don’t deserve it, when they’ve hurt you in the worst way. Real love does not blossom in the span of one summer.
Noah and Allie find themselves separated for seven years, during which time they live out very different lives and meet new people. They still carry a torch for each other and that’s fine. I still think of girls I knew in high school and wonder what ever became of them. It’s natural, but Allie meets Lon and he’s amazing. He comes from the same background. He’s charming, has great prospects and, let’s not forget, he absolutely loves Allie. She claims to love him back and he has no reason to doubt her since she’s agreed to marry him. This is awesome. This is what every person hopefully strives for when they seek out relationships. Yet the moment Allie sees Noah’s picture in the newspaper, everything that she and Lon built suddenly and completely goes down the toilet. Flush. No floaters.
She tells Lon that she’s going to visit the Old Town, knowing full well that she’s actually going to see Noah. Lon, of course, has no problem with her visiting anywhere because his trust in her is that complete. Allie and Noah reconnect and what happens? She lets him take her to the boneyard. Repeatedly. Astonishingly, Lon, the great guy that he is, forgives Allie and is willing to take her back. Allie declines, opting to be with the guy she knew for a total of three months, hadn’t seen for seven years and has no identifiable source of income.
Never mind that she told Lon that she loved him.
Never mind that she agreed to marry him.
Never mind the entire life she’s built with him.
Allie found “true love” and that’s all that matters.
Everything else be damned!
That brings us to today’s social landscape. Women around the world are watching The Notebook and applauding it, saying to themselves, “Yes. YES! This is proper behavior! My love life should be like this!” This movie tells women that even if they are in committed relationships with men who are good for them, they should cash these men in like a small stack of poker chips in a casino for the chance at passion. Words have no meaning and when you tell someone you love them and that you’ll marry them it should be understood that all contracts are only binding insofar as you don’t run into your ex-boyfriend.
Conversely, The Notebook tells all guys that it doesn’t matter how well you treat your girl. You can offer her financial stability, emotional support and your dashing good looks. None of that matters in the face of true love. And even if you think you’re the one she’s truly in love with, as Lon surely did, The Notebook proves that you’re only right until you’re proven wrong. Therefore, as a boyfriend, you should be as controlling as possible. Don’t let your girlfriend go dancing, grocery shopping or get the car washed, because you never know where she might discover true love. Imagine how embarrassing it would be to have your girlfriend take your Lamborghini to get washed and run into her old high school sweetheart working there. Their eyes meet and memories of remedial algebra crash into their thoughts as suds, love and violin strings swell around them. Hey, it could happen, which is why it’s never too early to become a Muslim Fundamentalist.
The point here is that, as a guy, you cannot rely on your good looks, fine upbringing, good job or wonderful treatment to keep you secure in your relationship. Furthermore, you can’t make the mistake of thinking your girl’s words are worth a damn when she tells you she loves you and that she’ll marry you. NOTHING TRUMPS TRUE LOVE.
The insidious aspect of romantic comedies and romantic dramas is that they make men sympathize with the guy who gets the girl, never with the guy who loses her. Therefore, we naturally think that we are the hero of our own romantic drama. And maybe that’s true, but only until we get the girl. Once that happens, if we follow the rules of romantic dramas, we become the villain. And as we all know, the villain can only lose the girl.
One of the few romantic dramas that I can respect is Casablanca. Rick’s decision to let Ilsa go at the end is the very essence of true love. If Ilsa doesn’t go with Victor, everyone’s lives are going to suck. Instead, they keep the love for each other safe in their hearts, because it’s not something that can survive in the world anymore. So, despite the personal anguish, Rick lets Ilsa go because it’s what’s best for her in the long run.
Heck, that’s better than true love; it’s smart love.