Jeremy's Ramblings, Babblings, and Other Pretentious Bullshit.
Tuesday, October 19, 2004
Movie love is dangerous. I realized this last night while watching "Garden State" for the second time yesterday. In the movie, two attractive, quirky, well-written characters (played by Natalie Portman and Zach Braff) fall in love with each other over the course of four days. Portman is a pathologically lying ex-figure skater, and Braff is a heavily drugged unemployed actor. Her boundless energy and his stoic nature are perfectly matched, and so they hit it off right away, and four days later, he changes his life's plans for her, and they kiss in an airport terminal while Frou Frou blares.

Now, don't get me wrong, I like this movie a lot. But this is dangerous. This goes on a list with "Punch-Drunk Love", "Moulin Rouge" and "Amelie" of recent movies that lead hopeless romantics like myself - along with pretty much anyone else who goes under the category of "film geek" - to believe that love is simply a walk in the park. You're just going along with your merry life and WHAM! You're in love.

It's what I call the Gershwin Syndrome. George Gershwin was, of course, the writer of such songs like "I Got Rhythm", "Our Love Is Here To Stay", "Embraceable You" and "S'Wonderful". While he wrote great songs about heartbreak and loss, he is best known for his love songs, which are some of the most joyous, beautiful melodies to come out of the 20th century.

People who suffer from Gershwin Syndrome are pretty starry-eyed, though they claim to be grounded and logical. They understand that romance is filled with difficult and complicated feelings, and that, like Shakespeare said, "The road to love never did run smooth." Yet they have been tainted by so many movies in which beautiful, funny people fall easily in love with other beautiful, funny people that they start mistaking what SHOULD happen with what DOES happen. So they believe too easily in love, and - being fully aware of this - are quick to hide it by being resistant to romance. But they listen to their Gershwin songs, and watch their Woody Allen films, and afterward sit alone and wonder why they have no Nora to their Nick.

How do I know this? I'm not only the president, I'm also a member.

There's a variation of this that I've seen in someone whom I've been around a lot in the past month. He has openly admitted to me that he is obsessed with war. He likes to greet me with fake punches and - since we are in a theater environment with several fake knives and guns - continues to hound me with fake stabbings and shots to the head. He wrote a one-act about soldiers of fortune, which he acts in.

This is probably called the Patton Syndrome, which is the bully brother of the Gershwin Syndrome. This guy, along with several other guys that I knew up in Idaho, does not actually like the idea of war (which is proven by the fact that he is not in the midst of our current war). But the "idea" of the soldier - the chisel-faced man packing an enormous gun, slinking through exotic locales while gunning down faceless foreigners and shouting curse-filled one-liners to his compatriates - has remarkable appeal.

Chekhov (the playwright, not the "Star Trek" character) once said, and I'm paraphrasing here, that we should not write life as it is, but as they way it should be; the way it is in dreams. While I do not disagree with that, it is also a dangerous thing for those of us who suffer from Gershwin/Patton Syndrome, as we start confusing the dream world for cruel reality.

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