Friday, March 26, 2010

Single and Fabulous?

Note to the Reader: This blog post appeared on a previous blog by the same writer in a slightly different form. Enjoy. Again.

I watched the movie Singles today. It was on cable. I was excited because I turned it on right when it started; I love it when that happens. I hadn't seen this movie in years. It was made in 1992 - I was thirteen - but I remember watching it a lot during my teen years. This movie made me think of many things. One was, well, the nineties and growing up in them. I grew up watching this movie and listening to the music in this movie; the music made me very nostalgic. Remember grunge? The Seattle sound. I grew up listening to all these bands, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Mudhoney, Mother Love Bone, Soundgarden, Nirvana, Temple of the Dog, etc. Makes me feel old, because I still like to listen to these bands. Maybe not old, I guess, but grown up. I remember being a kid and my dad would listen to a lot of freedom rock, you know, Forest Gump soundtrack stuff. That's because that's the music he listened to when he was growing up. I guess at some point, we stop caring about what's new and just keep listening to what we liked growing up. That darn nostalgia gets us every time.

Another thing that was cool about watching Singles again was seeing all the stuff in the movie from that era. Remember the guys who would wear long underwear pants under their shorts? And then they'd wear Converse and, of course, the plaid flannel shirt. At first when I saw Matt Dillon's character Cliff wearing that, I thought to myself, "Is he wearing tights under his shorts?" But then I remembered that long underwear thing that went along with being "grunge." And there's a scene where Cliff is using one of those big, bulky cordless phones with the long silver antenna on it that you had to pull out before he made a call. Remember those? They looked like Chinese yo-yos. Remember Chinese yo-yos? And another character had a watch that could hold phone numbers in it. How funny. No cell phones. Weird. And the scene with the big, huge garage door opener. And then there's the bizarre concoction that the couple had to make in order to find out if they were pregnant. Now we just pee on a stick. Believe me: I know.

That brings me to the next thing this movie made me think of. The couples in this movie. Why are there so many couples yet the movie's titled "Singles"? There's Cliff and Janet. Steve and what's-her-name. Even the annoying neighbor who made the dating video meets that man at the airport. Why is it that whenever a movie (or a book or story, etc) is seemingly about single people attempting to find comfort, satisfaction, or even happiness in their singleness (I almost typed "singlemess" just then. Freudian slip) it turns out that they always find "the one" by the end of the story? What message is this sending to single people who may be watching the movie, reading the story, etc. in order to find exactly what they thought the movie, story, etc. would help them obtain? “Sex and the City” kind of did this too. The entire series was largely about being "Single and Fabulous!" But then they end the series with every single main character having found the one they want to be with, they all live happily ever after, some of them married, some of them with kids, all of them in fabulous houses. Then they go and make a movie, as if the happy ending in the series just weren't shoving single people's faces in it just quite enough.

And don't get me started on "He's Just Not That Into You." Ok, I'm started. This lovely little catch phrase began as a quote from an episode of "Sex and the City" wherein Miranda is among her girlfriends and one of their boyfriends wondering out loud why this guy with whom she went out on a date hasn't called her. They all sit around doing the typical maybes: Maybe he's been out of town. Maybe he hasn't checked his messages. Maybe he's stranded in an underground somewhere with no cell reception. Maybe he's lying in a hospital bed somewhere. And then the boyfriend pipes in (he's the only man at the table) and states boldly, "Maybe he's just not that into you." Miranda finds this very liberating and vows to share this information with all the women she encounters with the "maybes." It worked for her. And let's face works for many of us, too. He's just not that into us. Sounds better than many other things we can conjure up in out post-first date-clouded minds. So, then they write a book by the same title. It's an ok book. Just basically gives women scenarios why you should automatically think a man is just not that into you: if he's not dating you, if he's not having sex with you, if he's not calling you, etc. And it's liberating, too. So, then they go and make a movie, and that's when the rant begins. The movie sucks. Really, really, really, really, really bad. To sum it up, the book and the SATC episode was about realizing that he's just not that into you and you should go on with your life. But the movie is about realizing that he's just not that into you and what are ya gonna do about it? It sucks. It's not liberating at all. It's an annoying albiet cute young woman trying to find out WHY the guy just isn't that into her. A far cry from what the phrase meant to women in the first place. Die HJNTIY movie. Die!

I read a book this last week (Little Children by Tom Perotta) that does end this way, however. The book is about (spoiler alert) two married people having an affair. They are both, obviously, unhappy in their marriages, and by the end of the book decide they will leave their respective spouses and be together. But, they both have these epiphanies about how they don't really want to have each other in a new life; they wanted each other in their old lives. They liked the escape the affairs gave them from their mundane married existences. It just wouldn't be the same if they were together. Then, the woman has this neat soliloquy where she states she's looking forward to being single, raising her daughter alone, on her own terms, without the ridiculous illusion that someone will save her from her life. More specifically, a man. Reading that was great. I considered that a happy ending.

Where are all the happy endings?

Posted by: Missi


  1. Wait a minute, didn't you say at some point that you aren't a feminist or something like that? :P I'm pretty sick of allllll the stories where a single woman always ends up married or dating at the end of the movie. Or she ends up miserable. Or dead. Or whatever. As if being alone is the worst possible thing on the planet. And by alone, I mean no spouse/boyfriend/etc. Books and movies that do this seem to think that life isn't worth living unless you have a husband. Or a boyfriend. Whatever. As if your friends and family don't matter. As if YOU don't matter.

  2. Jennifer (of SAFWC)April 8, 2010 at 4:43 AM

    I'm a feminist. I can't speak for M though, but I wanted to hop in there with, "I am! I am!"