A Many Splendored Thing

By: Darren Ranck, Brennan Carley, Charlotte Parish

“Here’s looking at you, kid.” “You had me at ‘hello.'” “I hate how much I love you.” Song lyrics, movie quotes, they embody a love we usually are not articulate enough to express. Everyone wants to identify themselves as a pop culture couple or place a moment within a pop framework. Why does society partake in this phenomenon? To put it simply, pop culture is the perfect love story. here’s the meet-cute, the moment that sparks visibly fly. There’s the struggle of making it work. Finally, there’s the moment of happily ever after. In books and movies, it ends right there. These couples are preserved forever in culture.

Not everyone puts love on a pedestal, though. We look at three different reflections on love and pop culture. From hopeless romantics to stifled cynics, The Scene explores the legacy of romance in Hollywood.

Charlotte Parish

What is it about the infamous romantic comedy  that attracts females? I certainly fall prey to the mushy, unrealistic, but oh-so adorable plots like most girls, even though more realistic thoughts of why the movie was ridiculous come rushing in with the fade out. However, in the interum between the opening shot and the credits, I am completely sucked into the world of true love, soulmates, and star- crossed lovers.

Everyone has their go-to rom-com, that one movie that makes them melt and convinces them to believe in love despite any grumbling professed during the weeks leading up to Feb. 14. Whether you call it the sweetest holiday or a Hallmark goldmine (even my other editors are clearly split in opinions) you cannot deny that certain films deserve credit for creating timeless couples.

While I am strongly tempted to give Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet the largest in my heart as Jack and Rose of the infamously ‘unsinkable’ Titanic. However, I simply cannot because of the ending. Yes, it is rather like Romeo and Juliet on a boat, but that isn’t the deciding factor for me. In fact, I admit without embarrassment that I cried when watching Titanic for the first time ever just a few weeks ago. Once the credits rolled and I broke out a bar of dark chocolate, I paused for thought and realized that they had known each other for, count them, three whole days. While the romantic in me adores the idea of love at first sight and soul mates, I cannot help but wonder what would have happened when the boat reached land. Maybe they would have gotten along splendidly, relying on love and the wandering soul of Jack that brought him on the ship in the first place. But maybe they would have descended into domestic passivity and lost the passion that makes Titanic so entrancing to watch.

Thus, it is with a heartfelt sigh of mushiness that I crown Allie and Noah of The Notebook as my all time favorite couple. While the book is wonderful for the beach, I actually prefer the movie and the astonishing chemistry of Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling. This unusual bias for the film version over the book version isn’t just because I am convinced that Nicolas Sparks is actually a female. It is because Gosling and McAdams make their characters’ love so completely believable, from her skepticism over lying in the road to his devastation when there is no response to his letters.

But even more than their youthful passion or their electric reunion, the part of The Notebook that propels it to perfection in my mind is the aged lovers. The point of The Notebook is that Noah never gave up loving her, despite distance, class, war, age, illness, and – the most devastating thing – being forgotten in her dementia. Meanwhile, Allie vaguely remembers her husband even when her children are strangers due to her illness. She so loves to hear their story during her visits with Noah, even though she doesn’t completely recognize that the love he describes is their own. One of the few romcoms that actually focuses on the longevity and success of the lovers, The Notebook is about defeating literally everything for a love that actually lasts. What could possibly be a better Valentine’s Day indulgence?

Darren Ranck

I’ve never been kissed. Just kidding. I have been kissed, numerous times in fact. Before I get lewd, let me state my thoughts on V-Day – it’s a sham. Last St. Valentine’s I saw the ensemble comedy Valentine’s Day along with two other realistic individuals (or as some might call us, cynics). The three of us criticized the movie for its endless montages of love in Los Angeles and the alignment of the stars in every sweet situation and the seemingly in-love-with-love attitude of it all. The one character who had some sense was Jessica Biel, a neurotic publicist, who held an “I Hate Valentine’s Day” party.

Love in its most sickeningly sweet form, has never been my style. I think of the Paul McCartney and Wings’ song “Silly Love Songs.” The opening lyrics explicitly say, “You’d think that people would have had enough of silly love songs.” I find myself nodding in the affirmative until Sir Paul suddenly asks, “What’s wrong with that?” I feel led astray when Paul starts to belt out, “I love you,” harmoniously. To have the rug pulled under you by the reigning Beatle is not a thrilling feeling, but I wonder if I need to start accepting the over-the-top nature of this Hallmark holiday.

My favorite love stories in pop culture never really end well. I think of (500) Days of Summer, a film about the most hypnotic woman in America. I loved that a lovable loser like Tom could meet and fall in love with a woman as quirky and intriguing as Summer. Summer breaks Tom’s heart, though, in a most egregious way, and while I should be angry with her and think look down upon their relationship based on lies, I can only think, “That kind of love is pretty great.”

I feel as though love, in its glimmering moments, can be something beautiful and gush-worthy. One movie tugs at my romantic heartstrings – Sleepless in Seattle. The plot is, in all honesty, rather ludicrous. A woman falls for a man after he pours his sorrowful heart out on the radio, and his young son arranges a rendezvous in New York City. Although an enjoyable movie, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes at the folly of it all. Then came the moment of the meeting atop the Empire State Building. Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks lock eyes. The plucking of strings ushers in Jimmy Durante’s “Make Someone Happy.” That moment took my breath away. Never before did I think my heart could overflow and burst right out of my chest. Never before did I “love, love” more.

We always talk about romance being like “those scenes from the movies.” With the movies I watch, I don’t know if I want that burst followed by the slow burn. Those moments, though, the moments when love seems pure and untouchable, those are the moments even I can say look nice. Wonderful, even. I do think there are too many silly love songs, love poems, etc. That doesn’t mean I would miss an opportunity to meet a stranger atop the Empire State Building.

Brennan Carley

The rapidly approaching Valentine’s Day marks the first one that I will spend with my girlfriend (or any girlfriend, for that matter). It makes me think back on the past year we’ve spent together. How have we carried out our relationship? We’re big on movies, of course—she accompanied me to showings of Chloe and Remember Me back when I was just beginning my time here at The Heights. Our first official date was actually dinner and a movie, the latter of which was (and believe me I realize what a wacky choice this was in retrospect) Precious: based on the novel Push by Sapphire. Luckily, she stuck with me through it all (it was especially hard for her to sit through Tron: Legacy), which got me thinking about what pop culture couple we could best be compared with.

It would be so easy to say that we’re like Jim and Pam Halpert from The Office because, well, we’re pretty much exactly like that. We have the same taste in everything just like the Halperts do. We share laughs together all the time, and whenever I look up from my desk and see her sitting there, it makes me grin from ear to ear. We’re like Marshall and Lily from the creatively resurgent How I Met Your Mother, able to goof around with the knowledge that the other will always be there in times of struggle. She is the Tami to my Coach Taylor, excluding the fact that I know next to nothing about football of course. The couple from Friday Night Lights portray the most realistic relationship on TV currently. It’s wonderful to see them fight and then, in the end, air out all their grievances because it shows how rock solid of a marriage it is.

For the music lovers out there, she is the Zooey Deschanel to my Ben Gibbard. Why are we like the pair? For starters, the indie music darlings constantly pop up at tiny clubs across the nation to check out bands. One of our favorite things to do is hop on the T and head to a concert—and when I say one of our favorite things, I actually mean it’s our absolute favorite. Over the course of our relationship, we’ve seen acts from Florence and the Machine and Lady Gaga, to Robyn and LCD Soundsystem, and M.I.A. to Broken Bells. It’s kind of our thing.

I would be remiss if I left out the oh-so apt-mention of how she is the Nicki Minaj to my Drake (although many of our friends would argue the opposite, what, with my adoration of Her Minajesty). We both act wacky a fair share of the time just like the reigning queen of hip-hop does so brilliantly. But at the end of the day, just like in the magnificent “Moment 4 Life” video, we are content just to rest in each others’ arms. Oh, and the both of us can totally destroy (in the best sense of the word) her verse on “Monster.”


February 10, 2011