Your life is not ‘She’s All That’

Heath Ledger serenaded Julia Stiles from the school bleachers — the bad boy making a fool of himself to prove his affection. John Cusack held up a boombox outside Ione Skye’s window in “Say Anything” for the same purpose. Teams make winning plays at the buzzer, people declare their love in public and everyone loses his or her virginity after prom. These are the sorts of moments that movies are made of, and it makes sense. Movies aim to tell noteworthy stories in a few hours, and they aim to entertain — of course they are going to showcase the most exciting, shocking, heart-stopping and heartwarming moments imaginable. I do not blame the commercial movie industry for capitalizing on the hyperbolic. But life, for the most part, is not hyperbolic. And it is dangerous to apply the standards of rom-coms to our own love lives. The larger-than-life movie gestures create expectations. The oft-repeated refrains of films create cultural myths about the ways our lives will go, and reality can’t keep up. Now keep in mind that this is coming from the girl who once made her friends go to Montreal at 12:30 a.m. because she had just watched “Almost Famous” and felt that her life was too mundane. We all get sucked up by the glitter of Hollywood from time to time. But when we try to make our lives like the movies, it generally leads to nothing but disaster. If you try to recreate the moves from “Step Up” in your bathroom, the only likely result is that you’ll end up pulling down your shower curtain as you fall into the bathtub. If you go undercover and end up falling for your teacher, pretending to be jail bait when you’re actually 25 years old, he probably won’t come and kiss you when the clock runs out in the middle of a baseball field a la “Never Been Kissed.” And trying to make your life into a movie doesn’t only hurt you  — it hurts the innocent bystanders in your life as well. Watch “Pride & Prejudice” one too many times and suddenly you’re chasing these brooding boys who ignore you, hoping to find your true love, and forcing your best friend to hook up with their fair-haired, more charismatic friends. Who knows, maybe your friend will actually end up liking the symbolic Mr. Bingley and having a great time with him while you cry in your room and wonder where you went wrong. But if things go to shit, don’t say I didn’t warn you. Tons of wonderful things happen in life, but the best moments are usually nothing like classic teen dramas told us they would be. Perhaps they don’t make for good panoramic screenshots, perhaps there is no swell of music, but the small gestures of the everyday can be the most precious parts of life. Are we missing these experiences as they pass by because we’re waiting for the movie moments? Running into a friend on campus during a crappy Monday might not play well in IMAX, but it is this sort of little pleasantry that life offers to us on a daily basis, and if we reject these moments, we’re fools. We need to realize that life isn’t like the movies, but that’s okay.