Last night, I watched The Jane Austen Book Club while slightly drunk on Nyquil to work on the cape some more. I want to finish it this month. The only thing I can think of is watching a movie every night to keep me working on it. If I can just finish this one last tedious tentacle, I can get to the hat and finish.
But, the point of this post is not crocheting monster cape projects while watching chick flicks, it’s about Happy Endings. If you know me personally, you probably haven’t really gotten over the fact I admitted to watching The Jane Austen Book Clubwhich is so obviously a chick flick. You know I don’t do girly movies. You know I don’t do movies generally but scary movies, suspense movies, and girly movies are all pretty much not movies I’m into. I watched it because I decided to ignore the fact it was a girly movie and focused purely on the fact it was a movie about a book club. This worked rather well when I focused on the How to Make an American Quilt aspect of that movie and ignored the fact it was a girly girl drama. I was fifty-fifty on the Jane Austen part because I haven’t read Jane Austen since high school and I can’t remember if it was those books I absolutely hated or if those were by someone else. Judging from the movie, I think maybe I hated Jane Austen but I’m not entirely sure because even though the movie is supposed to be about a Jane Austen Book Club, it’s really about romantic relationships and happy endings and I still have no idea whether or not I want to read a Jane Austen book (or re-read for that matter).
As far as the existence of Happy Endings, there appear to be the same camps as there are revolving around God. Meaning, there is Camp I Believe (Gnostics), Camp I Don’t Believe (Atheists), and Camp There Really Isn’t Sufficient Evidence to Prove or Disprove Happy Endings So I Cannot Make a Satisfactory Conclusion on the Matter (Agnostics). I know this is super simplifying but, under medication I can’t muster much deeper conversation here. Apparently, when it comes to God and Happy Endings, I’m in the same Camp– There Really Isn’t Sufficient Evidence to Prove or Disprove Happy Endings So I Cannot Make a Satisfactory Conclusion on the Matter. This is why I’m not a fan of most Happy Ending-geared fictions. Besides, given my personal experiences, I’m leaning more to the Don’t Believe side of things. Can you blame me?
The thing about Happy Endings is they seem a) Conclusive and b) Exclusive. When these movies give you some romantic rocky place you can relate to, you’re right there with them the entire way—until the happy ending part. Because that part? Skipped you. Or maybe, Camp I Believe says, “Hasn’t happened to you yet.” And the real problem with Happy Endings is that they aren’t really Endings. They’re endings in a movie, sure, but most of the time Happy Endings are really Happy Beginnings in character relationships. You assume things stay that way because we grew up on fairy tales that told us so (all together now: “And they lived happily ever after”) but reality dictates all of these Happy Endings movies should have sequels at the very least, if not prequels and additional sequels. The most realistic love story I can think of in movies is the one we saw from start to finish across six movies—Darth Vader and Amidala. And we all know how that ended.
I watched the movie start to finish because it seemed full of promise. There were five females in completely different and entirely screwed up relationships, at least one of them was bound to end up unhappy and alone like
me many of us, right? [SPOILER ALERT IF YOU CAN’T FIGURE IT OUT YOURSELF] The woman whose husband leaves her for another woman gets back together with him after he realizes what a huge mistake he’s made, reads Jane Austen, and apologizes with a letter. They’re making out when their young lesbian daughter walks in on them at the end. Speaking of the young lesbian, she goes from one passionate impromptu relationship to another and ends the movie young, single, and full of promise for The One. There’s the sophisticated Hard Older Woman who melts like butter in the hands of a young Jane Austen reading sci-fi nerd who is mysteriously wealthy and goofy and unlike anything you’ve ever experienced in your life because he’s not real. We have the young wife who is Old World to the core, in rebellion to her hippie mom, married to a complete jerk of a jock who suddenly turns into a softie when she begs him to read Austen and crying reads a couple of sentences out loud to him. He reads the whole book, “Persuasion” and their relationship is renewed as he is now officially romantic and passionate and must truly love her. Lastly, there’s the most interesting character who gets the least attention. She’s the Love Veteran. Detached enough to enjoy the game for what it is. She’s been married six times, enjoyed them all for what they were, and ends married a seventh to a handsome wealthy man she can’t understand (literally, he speaks Spanish) but it doesn’t matter because she’s got a huge rock on her finger and you imagine he’s got a huge rock in his pants because boy does she look satisfied with herself. And everyone is so happy for her, cheering her with a champagne toast in the end. Your seventh husband! How wonderful!
Each of these scenarios is so completely far-fetched, they’d be hard to deal with on an individual basis. Combined, it just comes this question of the viewer: “What’s wrong with you?” Also, “Why aren’t you forcing potential lovers/mates/husbands/boyfriends to read Jane Austen? She has magic powers!”All of these nutcase women are happy—every single one. So what is your problem? If these five looney bins can be happy winners in the game of love surely you must be broken. Or maybe, it’s ok. Because it’s fiction. And we just want to pretend these are the things that happen. I remember another stupid movie I watched called He’s Just Not That Into Youand one solid piece of advice in the movie—these stories are all about the exception. You are the rule, not the exception. Movies and stories are always about the exceptions because no one cares about the normal.
So, there’s nothing wrong with you—with us. The makers of these Happy Endings are just gigantic fantasizers and wishful thinkers. They are all members of Camp I Believe. You won’t find evidence against Happy Endings in movies (outside of Star Wars at least), but you don’t have to look there either. Look in the mirror, call your best friend, your sister, your mother, your aunt, your cousin, your brother’s ex-girlfriends, etc. You’ll likely find lots of Happy Beginnings, some Sad Endings, some Sad Endings that turned into other Happy Beginnings, some Happy Beginnings that look like they just make it to Happy Endings (then again, ask my grieving grandmother who’s still grieving the death of her husband of over fifty years and Happy Endings seem impossible) and mostly you’ll find lots of In-Betweens. Because as long as you’re living, there is no real ending—happy or otherwise.