Ethlie Ann Vare follows up the post on her blog last week about A Star is Born and its unintended psychological effects. Remember the old Spider-Man slogan, “With great power comes great responsibility?” That’s something filmmakers definitely need to start keeping in mind.
by Ethlie Ann Vare
As I predicted, A STAR IS BORN is a blockbuster hit, never mind the fact that it sends a terrible message to all the potential love addicts out there. (See my previous blog post on the subject here.) But I can’t be too hard on Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga. After all, my whole life I’ve been given horrible messages from star-crossed onscreen romances – messages that might not damage a reasonable person, but can send an unreasonable obsessive like myself pursuing a bad idea straight to the gates of insanity or death.
I’m not blaming the movies; much of this is in the eye of the beholder. One person can watch LEAVING LAS VEGAS and swear off drinking; another sits through the same screening and decides to grow up to be Nicolas Cage’s suicidal alcoholic or Elizabeth Shue’s self-destructive prostitute. Because they’re so, you know, tragic and misunderstood. And sexy; don’t forget sexy.
Here, then, is a litany of cinematic woe for those unable to control and enjoy their love lives. The list is weighted for blockbusters and recent releases, because I only had so much space and it was too depressing to consider watching every Doris Day-Rock Hudson movie ever made. Feel free to chime in with your particular favorite.
Caution: Some spoilers ahead, but my guess is you’ve probably seen these movies already, maybe more than once. (Also note, a version of this column was previously printed in Substance Magazine.)
1. IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT (1934) A rebellious heiress and an out-of-work newspaperman fall for each other while she’s running away to elope with another man. “I don’t know very much about him, except that I love him,” says rich girl Claudette Colbert about penniless reporter Clark Gable. I still adore this movie classic, but I did finally figure out that relationships work better when you’re actually acquainted with the person.
2. LOVE STORY (1970) A rich boy and a poor girl fall in love as Harvard undergrads; he defies his family to marry her. Their perfect life is cut short by her fatal illness. “Love means never having to say you’re sorry,” young Ali McGraw tells young Ryan O’Neal, because if you truly love someone you will never hurt or disappoint them in the first place. This is a terrible lesson to teach a love addict; we already expect you to read our minds and then resent you when you can’t.