Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Crazy, Stupid...Oh dear God, just TELL her!


Each time I watch the trailer for Crazy, Stupid, Love  I am, by the time Steve Carell turns to the beautiful Julianne Moore and whispers in cracking voice, “I should have fought for you,” a thickly-lidded, glistening-red-eyed trout.

So, maybe this line resonates with me for mucky reasons I won’t go into, but set against the crescendo of Muse’s pleading "I just wanted to hold you in my arms…" as Carell looks longingly at the wife he lost and didn’t fight for, it creases me.  Creases me, I tells ya!  (The movie did not have this soundtrack playing in the actual film, so I was able to retain some emotional restraint.  Good job too, as I never have a hankie when I need one.)


“I should have fought for you.”

Do men fight anymore?   Do they go for what they want?   I’m not talking about another slice of pizza, or Stoli when they could have Grey Goose.   I’m talking about putting in the effort, real effort to earn, retain, and nurture love.  Or is a relationship more of a convenience item nowadays, a microwave ready meal, satisfying for five minutes, but then thrown away and out with the rubbish she goes?  Is marriage such a ‘convenience’ that men shrug their collective shoulders and wait for something easier to come along?  Someone you don’t actually have to engage in conversation, but who you can contentedly live along side, passionlessly, without conflict, but for leaving the goopey ice-cream scoop out on the kitchen side, sticking to the surface in its pool of congealed cream.

When does this relation erosion happen?  When do you stop really caring about the minutia of your loved ones’ day.  When do we stop asking questions?  When does it get boring?  And why do we allow it to happen?

Oh Lordy, has Eleanor been Chardonnay-blogging again?  Nope, am in complete control of my faculties—just not my tears, apparently.

But back to the flick… the movie begins with a realistic enough premise: endearing 40-something Cal Weaver (Carell) is told by his teary, not unkind wife, Emily (Moore), she thinks they ought to get a divorce.   And that she slept with another man.  As she steers the Volvo and their relationship, she asks him, “When did you stop trying?”  GAH!  Gouge out my eyes!

Without much fuss, but rolling from their moving vehicle, he accepts it, moves out, and so begins the *jazz hands* comedy section of the movie.  Enter tailored, trimmed, and groomed Ryan Gosling, or as I shall now refer to him, Ryan Oggling.  Oh I oogled alright.  It was hard not to.  The movie makers milked that particular feature of the film.  (Enjoy the gratuitous semi-clad photo.)

He is a Pick Up Artist, or, as I am learning from the fascinating, if not rather horrifying The Game by Neil Strauss, a ‘PUA.’  He has his routines: buy drink for The Mark, don’t reveal personal information, and make her talk about herself; interestingly, very different tactics from the ‘Neg’ (negative compliment), general neglect and alpha dominance employed by Style, Mystery and the PUA’s in The Game, but we’ll talk of that another time.

Jacob (Oogling) takes Cal under his wing, tailoring him without mercy.  The clothes are a great disguise, as a well-put together Cal learns the tricks of the Pricks and tries to forget his wife of over 20 years.  But it’s not that easy (Scarlett).  Jacob encourages him to move on, to schmooze women, and fuck ‘em to oblivion.    And like a Lemming, he goes along with it. 

We all know someone who has been broken by divorce.  Some of us know the couples, some of us pick sides—ouch—and some of us just want to smash the couple’s heads together.  It’s hard to watch our friends flounder.   It’s hard to feel ourselves fade as the unsaid slowly poisons us.  In Cal we see this accepting, fading dolt and he is relatable, he is human and we love him and want him to find happiness (hopefully with Emily.)

But, what isn’t relatable is the onesidedness.   We see very little of Emily Weaver’s internal struggle, bar a short phone call she makes just to hear Cal’s voice, her son commenting that he heard her crying and her confession of going to see Twilight on her own.  We can, at least, feel for her about that.  Without those brief nods to conscience, she would appear a hard-nosed slut.  That is certainly how the children’s sweet babysitter sees her. 

But I’d like this to be apology for Emily, because what the male screenwriter or perhaps brutal editor misses is her deep conflict, her certain doubts, her regrets and her emotional crippledom.  She cannot tell him that she loves him, that she misses him and wishes he would fucking buck up his ideas and take her on a date and make her feel desired again. He alone has to come to that realization and risk it.  Because if she takes his sweet goblin little face in her hands and tells him herself, then nothing would have really changed—she would just have been forcing it.  And it’s back to the everyday complacent couplet.  He has to be the one who not only admits that he should have fought for her, but he has to actually do it. 

Really, Emily is pole-axed by her own courage, hopeful and yet hopeless by the way she has just sabotaged her cozy family vignette.  Yet, from the movie, I didn’t pick up on much of that.  I just know that that is how she would have felt. 

No wonder she dresses like Daphne from Scooby Doo.  She needs to scour for clues to find any grain of character justification.















Sound like diatribe?  Well maybe it’s hit a nerve.  Maybe I am mad (in the American sense, not the English—shit, who am I kidding, maybe both), but I finished reading David Nicholls One Day this week, I’m reading The Game, I watched C.S.L. and there’s a theme.  Yes, reader.  It’s people being too casual, too convenient, and not saying what they really mean.  People not taking risks.  Sure, if we always said what we meant, where would the mystery be?  Wouldn’t we hurt people?  Goodbye to the thrill of the chase!  Yeah, piffle.  You want mystery, read some Grisham—there are enough of them out there to keep you well suspended.  If you are truly meant to be with someone, if you do really care for someone, oh dear God, man up (or woman up, as appropriate) and tell them!  If they don’t feel the same at least you can get on with life, move to Brooklyn, and torture yourself thinking of the effort you should have made and how you will rectify this in the future.  Because, *spoiler alert* like Emma Morley (One Day), you might be speeding into the arms of your beloved after 20 years of not saying what we readers have been waiting for, for 300 pages, and a wreckless lorry driver might slam into you and send you flying through the air as if you are playing a game of quidditch. 

So there.  That’s my non-chardonnayed take away.  Don’t be casual.  Be truthful, be honourable, be noble, be kind.  
Take risks. 
Fight for it.

7 comments:

  1. "If you are truly meant to be with someone, if you do really care for someone, oh dear God, man up (or woman up, as appropriate) and tell them! If they don’t feel the same at least you can get on with life, move to Brooklyn, and torture yourself thinking of the effort you should have made and how you will rectify this in the future."

    I actually really liked the "give up, get your memory erased, and then accidentally bump into the former love you don't initially realise is your former love and fall in love again" plot line.

    I think a good mind erasing every five years could actually work wonders for reversing the "familiarity breeds contempt" problem.

    On a serious note, and in the absence of mind erasing technology (not that we need assistance here inre forgetting to put ice cream spoons in the dishwasher after use), FBC is a tough nut to crack. I fear in many cases it's not so much an issue of "Why doesn't the guy from the not-quite-as-funny The Office fight for the woman he deep down is really passionate for, especially as it's Julianne blimmin' Moore who's still smokin' hot and then some?", but "Is that passion still there at all, regardless of whether the love still is?".

    btw Moore has actually seen me on telly. Thought our movie was crap, but that's not the point. Me. Saw. She did. On the telly. How awesome is that?

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  2. Oh come now.

    The hopeless romantic isn't dead, he's terrified. Female empowerment has finally taken a firm hold on his balls. There's still more squeezing to come, I think, before women have a stronger sense of identity (understandably so—recovery from being treated as second class citizens does not come easy).

    What's happened is that the new woman scares him. This modern woman. Beyonce and all that. Man has always been terrified of women—why else would he have oppressed them? Once he sees they're not a threat, he can begin to reasses his own identity, and the cycle of evolution continues.

    Man is actually a sucker for romance, for grand gestures. Man is vain. Most gifts are vanity in disguise. Man loves to be loved. But that vanity, that need to be loved, is much more fragile in man than it is in women. Man doesn't watch romantic movies because man will simply break. Besides, man has its own media-enforced programming to cope with too. Man's confusion is often overlooked, which is understandable because it is definitely not their turn.

    If I don't stop here this'll end up a book, so I'm stopping. Just be patient. Have a little faith. Man isn't romantically retarded; man is just retarded.

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  3. Firstly, you are all sweet for ignoring the gargantuan error I made in, for some unGodly reason, calling the movie 'Sexy' when it should have been 'Stupid.'

    Wowser. Apparently, disappointment also makes you dumb.

    Secondly, thank you for your comments. It's late and I need to go and eat chocolate/ sing Celine Dion into a vodka bottle/ weep into my pillow, but I wanted to answer your charges.

    To you DSK Samways, FBC. Well put, m'lud! How to crack this tough little bastard of a nut. I think it helps if couples stay engaged and communicate. I don't mean send each other FB messages--God, that makes me dry heave, "Steve, dinner is on the table,"--please! I mean--and hold on, because this is such a modern concept you might just rupture your spleen--TALK!
    It helps if you have interests in common, because then you have something to talk about. Some couples use offspring, others actual subjects like books, or politics or the price of halibut.
    It's really difficult to sustain a long-term relationship, if, after the lustre has faded, you find you don't have much in common.

    I am, admittedly a stubborn, hypocritical female. I want all the benefits of equality, but I still want to be wooed. I want to be made to feel important and special, not an annoyance or a convenience. It doesn't matter that you've been together 3 months, 3 years or 30, if you can't be bothered to lift your eyes from the TV or computer to greet your returning partner, then WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU THINKING? Special. This person is special to you.

    I think physicality is hugely important too. Couples that don't touch or kiss or--Heavens--sleep in the same bed anymore are doomed, doomed, they're all doomed. I don't care if he snores, woman! Buy some earplugs. I also think going to bed at the same time helps--aids 'conversation,--and, if there is a television dans la chambre, short it, take the batteries out of the remote, fray wires, but DON'T WATCH IT.

    Travel together. Learn a language or a skill. Share books. Pray to all that is holy that he/she can read. Have date nights. Shop together. Do crazy, stupid things like walking in the knee-deep snow to the ice-cream parlour (saves on the goopey scoop argument). Surprise each other. Not grand gestures, but thoughtful ones. Chicken soup when ill, valeting his/her car when dirty... I could go on.

    If all else fails, yes Damo, work on memory erasing. You're a scientist. Go to it!

    Now you @MJ Coene.
    I agree completely.
    I do think that the majority of men are good, decent, non-game playing chaps. But I think they are paralyzed. They are so confused by the highly evolved female signal system that they flounder, freeze like one of those fainting goats, and hope that when they come to the threat will have passed and they will be safe again.

    Trouble is, the highly-evolved female of the species, interprets this lack of action as disinterest, as complacency as "Meh! Whatever!"
    And said gormless goat might be internally frantic with "WHATDOIDO?WHATDOIDO?MAYDAY!MAYDAY!SHITSGOINGDOWNWHATDOIDO?" but these signals zoom back and forth from one neurone to another, and never complete an actual movement.

    I know, we women are guilty too. We should know better. We should see this glazed look, this puckered brow, this nervous jiggling like a 4 year old needing a wee, and we should say, "MAN up and kiss me, you fool." But we don't. We wait hoping that he'll get it. That some sudden telepathy, which he had neglected to tell you he had before, kicks in and he grabs his big hands around your waist and shows you that he does, indeed, care. But he's scared. He's worried if he touches you or says something truthful, he will be shot down. But, Lilly-livered Lover, isn't it worth a try?

    No women I know wants to be the one wearing the trousers (fighting or otherwise). We want romance. Sorry chaps, it's over to you.

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  4. Love this in the first part: "Some couples use offspring, others actual subjects like books, or politics or the price of halibut."

    Halibut. Ha!

    As for mine, you used the word "gormless" and when I looked this up in the dictionary the definition began with: ady. chiefly British.

    Chiefly sounds chiefly British.

    Anyhow, I posted my response to your post on me own blog. You can send my check for the advertising via CASH IN MY HAND. Ta-ta!

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  5. Bless your little cotton booties for doing so. I love the cut and thrust of romantic debate! It's such a farce because, ultimately, couples do want the same thing: happiness; yet, with all the mind games and lack of being able to speak tough truths, we sabotage ourselves.

    I amended the title howler, btw. Alas, I couldn't edit my 2am posted comment--if you have any ideas, let me know.

    Lord! She's a writer? She, who can't keep her, 'yous', 'wes' and 'hes' straight. Oi vey! Dearest Blogger, it was late. Really late. Mojitos with fresh muddled mint had been involved. The mint was not the only thing that was muddled.

    Oh, and gormless! Let's clear this up briefly, it is a chiefly a British word meaning 'drippy.' I picture a gormless person with grey parlour, a crusty cardigan, a comb-over and slumped shoulders. Maybe he has a stamp collection--sorry Philatelists--or a basement/attic dedicated to his vast Lionel train set collection. He eats things from cans and smells vaguely of ham. He is a cat person, not a dog person, and he lives with his mother.
    Yes, I get all this from 'gormless.'
    Back when I toured with a children's show there was a sock puppet called Willy Worm. He was the antithesis of enthusiastic, everything he did was an effort. Perhaps it was because worm and gorm are similar but for their initial consonant, but I always thought of Willy Worm as gormless.
    The official--and I think FAR less vivid--definition is: lacking vitality.

    E

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  6. You have a fabulous blog! I’m an author and illustrator and I made some awards to give to fellow bloggers whose sites I enjoy. It’s not a pass on award. This is just for you to keep. I want to award you with one of my homemade awards: Powerful Woman Writer Award for all the hard work you do!

    Go to http://astorybookworld.blogspot.com/p/awards.html and pick up your award.
    ~Deirdra

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  7. This blog somehow escaped me last month, but I have enjoyed it greatly. I would agree (personal experience disclaimer!) that far too few men are willing to "fight" for a relationship. As much as an also divorced male friend tells me that men have been emasculated by the new, modern woman, I'm not buying it. How hard is it for ANY human being to communicate with another, especially one that they are supposed to be in love with? Women do need to bear some responsibility for clear communication, but once expectations are communicated, it's time for the other partner to do his job! If he is unable or unsure on what to do to meet said expectations, I would be willing to wager that most women would be more than happy to elaborate. Nothing kills a relationship faster than lack of interest, lack of support, the dreaded separate bed syndrome, or the far more insidious "my job is vastly more important than you are" syndrome. Grrr. End rant, exit stage left.

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