Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Valentine's Week! Day Two

It's day two of Valentine's Week here at Erik At The Gates.  On day one, we looked at burgeoning love between young people, and today we continue with a look at a relationship that someone fought hard for, even if it wouldn't last.

We're going to look at lessons I learned from Scott Pilgrim.

Now, I couldn't really decide between discussing lessons from the comic, the movie, or the video game, since they all have their own style when it comes to capturing the struggle of a young man forced to fight for his life solely for the right to date the young woman who's haunting his dreams.  Granted, the video game  doesn't quite capture the nuances the comic or film does, but it does let you fight zombies, and that's a plus.

Now, I'm not going to do a whole review of the story more than I already have.  What I want to discuss is the relationships, so I guess I should start by saying "whoops, spoiler alert!". Now, in the comic they establish pretty firmly that there's a very good chance the relationship between Scott and Ramona won't last.  Ramona even goes as far as to say this relationship with Scott is what she needs "right now."

Ramona needs a relationship with someone different from all of her previous exes, and she finds that in Scott Pilgrim.  Scott, on the other hand, desperately needs to get get over the fact that he's out of high school and now a (somewhat) functioning adult in the real world.  The fact that the "real world" for him involves punching people so hard they turn into coins is irrelevant.

With each other, Scott and Ramona don't have the best relationship when you watch the movie.  This is, in part, due to time constraints, but you're never really sure if Scott and Ramona are dating for just a few days before the end of the movie or if time passes faster.  There's hints here and there that this is a longer relationship (Ramona's hair color changing, for example), but at the pace the movie moves, it could be up to interpretation.

I'll be honest, of Ramona's hairstyles, I liked the blue best.  The green reminded me of an unfortunate accident a roommate of mine had with his then-girlfriend dying her hair, and the red just didn't strike my fancy.  Besides, as Strong Bad says, "You just gotta go with blue hair!"

Now, when I watch a romance movie, odds are each one will give the impression it will end like a Disney movie, with "and they lived happily, ever after."  It takes a lot of nerve for a movie to actually say "and they spent time together happily, for now."  I think this is a lesson more movies could stand to teach their audiences, since most people don't meet the true love of their life when it's their first, second, or even third significant other.

People grow with each relationship they're in, though in the case of Scott he really didn't grow much until Ramona.  I'll admit, my own dating history and skills aren't where I really expected them to be right now, and I think that part of it is I really did expect that I'd hold out to find someone amazing, we'd click, and things would be rough in spots, but we'd constantly be working to make what we had work.

In other words, I was seduced by Hollywood cliches.

I like to think I'm past that now, and it's lessons learned from movies and books (and games) like Scott Pilgrim that helped me take lessons I've learned in life and put them in context through other peoples' stories.  I learned from Scott that if you really want something, you have to be willing to take abuse sometimes if you really feel it's worth it.  I learned from Ramona that a relationship doesn't have to be the goal in life, it can simply be the map to help you figure out what kind of person you want to be.

From Knives Chau, I learned that you have to be honest to yourself if you want to find someone who likes you for you, and that I should expect that some women's fathers can kick my ass without breaking a sweat.  From Kim Pine, I learned that sometimes, if you want to get past something that really hurts, you have to be willing to walk away and leave a lot behind, and if you hold onto the resentment from being wounded, you'll never be able to live your life.  From Wallace Wells, I learned that not every movie one of the adult Culkin brothers acts in is bad, but I also learned that sometimes a friend will give you a swift kick in the ass if they see you falling back on bad habits.

From Envy Adams I learned that I can't get seduced by something that might be too good to be true, and to keep expectations realistic, but Stephen Stills taught me that, no matter how neurotic I get, I should still try to do the best I can at any thing I do.

Even Lisa Miller taught me that sometimes you have to stop looking back at the "why didn't I"s and "What if I"s and move on with the rest of the world.

...I didn't really learn anything from Julie Powers though, except how to blur out my mouth when I say words that would make things rated "R".

This probably isn't the kind of post people expected me to make about a movie that frequently spins in my DVD player or a book series I'll skim through when I'm bored, but I feel that past the flash, the video game jokes, and the pop culture references is something with a really strong message for anybody who might be at all disappointed that life's relationships aren't where they hoped they would be.

So, what does this have to do with Valentine's Day?  Well, I'll admit, it's a bit of a stretch if you look at my previous description of what I think the holiday embodies, but what they both have in common is they're both about relationships.  You have to appreciate the relationships you're in right now, whether they are just being good friends, testing the dating waters, or being married for twenty years.  Maybe this is the person you're meant to spend the rest of your life with, or maybe they're just a chapter in the book of your life.  But you can't spend every day pondering this or wondering about what happens next.  You have to appreciate the now, and do what's best for what you have.

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