However, if we take a step back for a second , we start to realize how ridiculous this whole idea is. Our obsessions with movie characters, for both children and adults, is, inevitably, a far fetched dream of what we wish our lives could be like. There are many different facets to these dreams and hopes, whether it’s to be rich and famous, to fall in love, get revenge, or to simply find yourself. Regardless of what the dream is, movies have been and will forever continue to be an outlet for writers, producers, and movie-goers alike to bring those dreams to life, even if only for an hour or two.
Looking at some of the research that our class compiled over the past couple of weeks, I realized that in both children’s and adults movies, there were a few similar themes that arose regarding wish fulfillment. One of these was finding true love. Between 12 kids movies and 12 adult movies, there were 6 in each category that had the theme of “finding true love?. ” This data does not surprise me at all, due to the fact that love has always been a prominent theme when it comes to the film industry.
Whether you’re 42 and watching Gone with the Wind or 5 and watching Cinderella, it doesn’t matter because at some point, Clark Gable and Prince Charming are going to show up and sweep the girl off their feet in an overly dramatic and picturesque romantic scene, reassuring the viewer that true love does exist. Especially for women and little girls, I think that this dynamic in films can actually be somewhat harmful.
Not to say that there aren’t men out there that will show up with a glass slipper at the strike of midnight to take you off into the sunset in a pumpkin carriage made by your fairy godmother – all I’m saying is that for the majority of women, this ideal love scene is unrealistic and gives us a false pretense for the real world and a blurry view of what falling in love is “supposed to look like?. Before I step off my high horse, it should be noted that these unrealistic love scenes are not only in children’s princess movies, but in adult movies as well.
The only difference a lot of the time is that the writers include more real life situations, conflicts, and scenery, persuading the viewer to think these scenes are more likely to happen in real life, and not only that, but that it will happen to them. This sets us up, inevitably, for failure in the love department. Now, in many girls’ and young women’s minds, we can’t fall in love with someone unless they are perfectly sculpted, charming, spontaneous, romantic, and successful.
Instead, even if the right guy does come along, our brain (the film industry) tells us to push him away because the “right ? guy is waiting out there for you, he just doesn’t know it yet or is too shy to say something. And even better, one of the more commonly viewed stereotypes, is the (for lack of a better word) “sleazy? man, who falls in love with a woman who is too good to manipulate or take home the first night and never call again. Instead, the guy changes for her, and they end up falling madly in love, him a forever changed man.
This kind of portrayal is seen in “Crazy, Stupid, Love,”? with Ryan Gosling as the masochistic ladies man and Emma Stone as the “game changer?. ” Unfortunately, I myself fall victim to this love trap in films. But if anything, especially after discussing this topic in class and now writing and researching about it, I have a new perspective on it all, and am able to appreciate films for what they are and what they portray, as well as the special people in my life right now and for years to come.
If everyone could take this approach and separate people in film from people in reality, I have to believe that society, in their romantic lives at least, would function a little bit more normally. Another recurring theme that popped up in our class data was a mixture of three things: defeating evil/bad guys, being a hero/saving the day, and a desire for action and adventure. Out of the 12 children’s movies, there were 9 that showed all three of these categories and out of 12 adult movies, 7 showed defeating evil, 7 showed saving the day, and 8 showed desire for action and adventure (View and Discuss).
Again, I am not surprised by this data at all. For children, the bad guys usually show kids what NOT to do, and are later given consequences for their actions. The “hero”? of the movie usually saves the day and gives an example of what TO do (the opposite usually of whatever the bad guy was doing). In order for all of this to happen though, there usually has to be a conflict of some sort and a journey in which the main characters try and work their way through it all. This journey is usually filled with obstacles that need to be overcome and hardship that the characters must work through.
This exact same dynamic is followed in adult movies, except once again, to keep the attention of the much more intellectual audience, the plot is thickened and made more realistic so we mentally put ourselves in the situation and watch the movie as though it is us in the character’s shoes, wondering what is going to happen next. By the end of the movie, whether you’re a child or an adult, you feel a sense of empowerment and triumph both for yourself and towards the imaginary character.
Overcoming the bad guy in any movie is always going to make us feel good, especially with the amount of turmoil the character went through to get there. We as a society will always long for a happy ending, and if we don’t get it, we’re usually not satisfied, and that’s where the low ratings end up in the film industry. As unrealistic as it is to get a happy ending in some movies, such as Transformers (where alien robot cars basically take over the world) or “Titanic” (do I really need to explain? , the movie industry always has a way of twisting it around and giving the audience what they want. Again, I could say this gives us a false sense of hope for what really happens, however, when it comes to action films and over the top villains, I think we better realize the actuality of these things actually happening is much less, meaning that these types of movies, especially for adults, is merely just a form of entertainment, not necessarily a very realistic form of wish fulfillment.
Sure, all of us would love to be Superman or Spiderman, flying all over the world and shooting webs from our fingertips, but we also know that these types of things will never happen, and there is no harm in letting our imaginations run wild once in a while! I think for the most part, all movies really are is a way for us to take a break from reality for an hour or two (or three if you’re the “Titanic” or “The Sound of Music”).
As far as I see it, that’s all they’re meant to be. The film industry itself is just a bunch of people, brainstorming ideas and imagining different scenarios about the world around us. If you think about it, movies are just a very lifelike diary of whoever wrote the screenplay. At some point, someone got tired of simply writing their dreams down in a diary and decided to put it in film and share his or her ideas, wishes, and desires with the world.
Turns out those desires, along with many other screenwriters and directors, were the same as some of our own, giving the film industry the popularity it has today. Both children and adults have dreams and desires that want to be fulfilled. Some, such as having magical powers and being able to talk to animals are more than unlikely and naive, and there is nothing wrong with that, especially for a child whose mind is so full of wonder and imagination that there is no need to stop them from watching these types of films.
Others, such as being wealthy and famous, or finding true love, are not too far out of reach for adults, and I think we often times look to movies to try and solve the puzzle as to how to get there someday. Whether we do or not doesn’t matter, because there will always be another film with another character that we can relate to, with a storyline similar to ours, and an ending that we wish to have all for ourselves. There is however, a positive side to the portrayal of our wishes in films, depending on the person who is watching.
There is the person who watches the film and longs to be just like the main character in every way, but never does anything about it other than continue to watch the movie over and over again. Then there is the person who watches the same movie, relates to the character, and instead of putting his or herself in the character’s shoes, puts on a pair of shoes and lands that new job they’ve been hoping for, finally stands up to the person who’s been bullying them in school, or finally tells that special someone that they love them.
If anything, THIS is the message that media is portraying to us. Not that the things being shown in these films are going to happen to us exactly as the actors are picturing, but that we should be inspired by them to get up and make it happen ourselves. Part of the phrase “wish fulfillment ? is to fulfill what we’re wishing for, and movies aren’t going to do that, WE are.