Friday, September 11, 2015

Love Sucks, Love Sells (And Make Movies Look Bad)

Last weekend, I went to the cinema - out of boredom. I rarely go the cinemas these days, and making this rare visit reminded me once more why I stopped going to the cinema.

Movies today suck. Their sins are aplenty (predictable plots, excessive CGI, cardboard characters, etc.), to which a single article alone does not do justice explaining them all. On this occasion, the Japanese live action movie Attack On Titan commits a truly unforgivable sin: adding an utterly unnecessary and unconvincing love story as a subplot.

Don't worry, no harm will ever come to a woman holding a baby - one of the golden rules of cinema

Love Sucks

Love, love, love... It's in every damn movie. Doesn't matter if it's action or drama. Every script must find space for kisses and foreplay, never mind that the entire world is teetering at the brink of destruction.

Attack On Titan was a typical futuristic dystopian fare - humans huddling in terror, hunted by monsters. Gripping action, heart-stopping thrills... and then midway in the second act, a love triangle sparks off and slows everything down into long-drawn starry-eyed scenes. To fanboys, this must have come across not only as an unexpected twist, but a rude shock. For in the original manga and anime - surprise, surprise - there's nothing romantic going on between the two youthful protagonists Eren and Mikasa!

David Fincher's The Social Network is another perfect example of film-makers making shit up. Very early in the movie adaptation, we learn that Mark Zuckerberg is an arrogant, awkward geek driven to build Facebook after being dumped by a girl - out of spite. But the girl doesn't exist. In real life, Mr. Zuckerberg is happily married to his varsity sweetheart Priscilla Chan of whom he met during, yes, his varsity days (before he dropped out).

And then there's The Hobbit trilogy. Good Lords of Mordor, I don't even know how I made it as far as the second movie. An interracial dwarf-elf romance with Legolas playing third wheel... yes, a glum-faced Legolas who - surprise, surprise - does not even feature in the original novel. Sadly, no amount of dragon fire and magical spells can erase those horrible barf-inducing moments from our living memory.

Legolas: wtf we even doing in this movie
Tauriel: omg ikr?!

Love Sells

Look, I'm not against love stories per se - they are fine for romantic movies (obviously). But no need to throw them into action and drama movies - they only serve to distract and dilute greater themes at play.

Why all the lovey dovey crap? Why must movies make it seem that only a person in love can do great deeds? Can't a hero save the world simply by the sheer force of his will and courage? (No, according to the Matrix, you can't - not without first experiencing true love and, yes, hot underground sex)

But I get it. Love sells. Sex sells. It's shrewd and subtle marketing. Putting love scenes into action or drama movies help widen its demographic appeal amongst female viewers. So if a guy desperately wants to watch gigantic Titans eating puny humans on a Friday night, at least he can say to his girlfriend: "There's like this super intense love triangle going on, honey. And a lot of sad starry-eyed scenes. You'll love it."

Love stories have become an obligatory part of modern movies not because of narrative necessity, but commercial exploitation. The movie industry is playing with our feelings. They're like the smug jocks in high school thinking they can knock us (guys and girls) off our feet with a single sweep of their molten hazel stares. They're taking us for a ride. They think we're idiots.

More terrifying than giant man-eating Titans - the creepy alpha male who's got your girl 

Reject The Power Of Love

But we're stronger than that. We don't need their pathetic crumbs of romance. We don't need to be shown, told and reminded about the power of love in every single damn movie. Boo loudly whenever a sappy love scene pop up in the cinema. Boycott movies with trailers that hints of shades of pink and soft porn between the serious action.

Are we being heartless for rejecting love in movies? Not at all. It simply means that we have enough love in our own lives.

We know what love is. And even if we don't, the last place we should look for inspiration are in movies about humans battling giants or dragons. We know what heroism is. And even if we don't, the last place we should look for advice are in movies telling us that the power of love - not our skill with swords - is what that's really required to vanquish giants and dragons.

So reject the power of love, folks - not out of hate, but out of love for better quality movies.

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