Rushing down the stairs, Esmereldalina tripped on the dragon’s tail, only to be caught by Bruce. Her prince charming survived the battle. They only kissed, but didn’t make out. This is Disney, and they don’t roll like that, but they lived happily ever after. Just like the millions and billions of other feel-good movies being produced at what feels like, an alarming rate.
Many movies end well, but consider the movies that don’t have euphoric conclusions. They have two characteristics. The first of which is that they’re typically rated “R” or “NC-17”. Only really bad movies have sad endings. The second being that nobody likes them. If the main couple isn’t embracing by the time the credits are rolling, then chances are, that the reviews will be bad, then nobody will go see a perfectly fine movie.
We are so encumbered in our own wretched emotions, seeking to have a happy ending, so we can sigh a little and daydream that we miss the forest for the trees. The good stuff gets ignored. I believe the opposite is true as well. Sometimes, just because people get EVERYTHING they wanted in the end and they’re happy, we’re content. Forget the fact that whoever put this vile, kitsch piece of whatever together did so intending to abuse our emotions. The same conventions including character development, soundtrack, and certain visual elements combine to make a shallow, box-office hit. It makes me want to vomit, but it sells well. Happy endings are what people pay for because nobody wants to leave the theater just a little depressed.
There are rare exceptions to these movies (and I should include novels) where ultimately, everything isn’t all hunky-dory when all is said and done. These are classics and include Old Yeller, Where the Red Fern Grows and Lord of the Flies. I treasure these books; the movies that followed them aren’t half bad either. I must admit that dying puppies is another abused convention, but I’m giving them credit as far as the ending wasn’t incredibly happy. There was no doggy resurrection, if you want that, please check out a copy of “Pet Cemetery”-does that end well? I don’t remember.
Anyways, the consumer created the market for happy endings and our need has been met. When was the last time you saw a flick that didn’t end with a content little smooch or with a goal finally being obtained? It has been a while, hasn’t it? Our desire to see everything tied up into a cute little knot has either created or intensified an aversion to negative emotions. We don’t know how to cope with it when things don’t go as they should, because that doesn’t happen in the movies. That’s scary.
What is the result then? Many options exist, including depression, disillusionment, and any number of extreme measures we take. It’s disturbing.Perhaps that’s why so much of the population is on anti-depressants? Not that they’re not depressed, but rather, that our culture never gave them a chance to be happy. We have been programmed from the beginning to think of happiness as something incredibly different than it really is. Happiness is like the end of a good book or movie. Happiness isn’t like life.
I hate to break it to you, but there aren’t always happy endings. There are times when the guy doesn’t get the girl, even if he did heroically slaughter his way through an army of zombies, managing to keep his white unicorn perfectly clean the entire time. Sometimes the best-laid plans don’t bear the fruit that we intend. Sometimes, the good guy dies. I’m so bloody melodramatic, which is unfortunate, because that’s probably another result of our sensationalized media that we all eat up. Even I have bought into it. That’s a shame.
If you ever watch any type of movie that came out of the Quebec film movement, even some of the raunchy movies that came from Europe, you’ll understand that Americans are the only people that suffer this affliction. Mon Oncle Antoine is one example of a horrible movie where I’m pretty sure nothing good happens. The people are all ugly, the lighting sucks and it kind of feels like real life, but in the nasty cold. If we watched movies like this instead of the new Indiana Jones, what would we be like? Probably as nihilistic as the rest of the world is now, but we’d be able to cope, right?
I have no conclusion to this rant, but that if we tried to balance out everything, then perhaps we would be more readily able to handle it when things don’t go our way, while maintaining to remain less pessimistic than the rest of the world.
I’m going to write a fiction book someday too, (In addition to The F-Word) and it’ll have a happy ending only so that it sells well, it’ll be hard, but I think I can manage it!