Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Rise of Dying Teen Cinema

Today I was scrolling through Facebook and spotted a trailer for a movie I hadn't ever heard of,  but that looked semi terribly cheesy so I think I should have- Everything Everything. From the preview, I could glean it was the story of a girl who was unable to go outside due to some exoticly romanticized lowered immune disease. [TANGENT: Swoon! Am I right?] Here's the trailer so you can see what I am talking about before I move on.

Basically, it's the 2017 girl version of the as seen on TV 70's classic, Boy in the Plastic Bubble, but with less JohnTra and more Ed Sheeren songs [Presumably. I have no idea if that is even true. Ed Sheeren just seems like the patron saint of slow dancing in the rain...which seems like someone no one has ever done in real life, unless they are living their best life and looking death in the kisser.]
 For the record, I love movies and am not above anything. [Tangent: In fact that's pretty much what should be inscribed on my tombstone. As much as I try to watch well-crafted pieces of art, I legitimately enjoy a lot of terrible movies. I hold Never Been Kissed and movies in Oscar contention with equal esteem.]  I LOVE to halfway hate-watch a hardcore scmaltz-fest from the sanctity of my living they are meant to be viewed 100% alone [Tangent:...and then inevitably beginning to cry...and then just get angry at myself for taking the low-hanging bait...and bubble over with self-loathing as the predictability and contrived nature of what I have just viewed sets in.]  I have even paid hard-earned dollars to see them in theaters, because despite my best efforts, I can be incredibly cliche and lame. Here's my friend Rae and I proving that we thought the tear-fest Me Before You needed less montages and more reality. [Tangent: I felt I had to read and see it after all the backlash from the disability community. I don't bandwagon jump until I see it for myself.]

 I have seen all the other movies  that are part of a weird trend of movies that fall under the umbrella of "You're Sick, but I love you!" - Me Before You, If I Stay, The Fault in our Stars...all the way back to A Walk To Remember, which my best friend and I laughed through because we are terribly calloused individuals. 

Still I wonder...
"Why is this a thing?"

Trust. Being in love with someone with an illness is not so romantic [Tangent: I know the Nicholas Sparks of the world would beg to differ because they love to have people come down with sad and glamorous diseases. ]. I wish it was! I'm not saying I completely frown upon this trend, [Trust that I am all for people with disabilities getting some action in the media. GET IT, PEEPS!] I just find it a bit head-scratching...and misleading about how relationships are if one of the people has an illness.

Technically I am not dying, but I have a pretty shit-tastic disease, and I can affirm that these films are complete fiction. If anyone has ever been enraptured by my fragility and propensity for breathing treatments...I have not been aware. [Tangent: And I assure you if I was ever looked at like some kind of inspiration, a solid eye roll would be given.]

And I have never felt like I needed love to validate me...I mean sure dudes were never banging down my door and of course, it made me sad...but the whole savior complex in these movies is real gross, and kind of diminishes that the characters have anything else going on. Suddenly their love story revolves around the disease. Hmmm.. Do you know how much my boyfriend and I talk about MD. Barely ever. It just doesn't come up and its not something we dwell on. Of course, it affects things sometimes, but really it just is something we adapt around...not something that makes me feel invalid.

I know what you're saying...sad cry-fest love stories are not new. Love Story. Steel Magnolias. They all hinge on someone dying and leaving love behind or saying "To hell with death, here's life and I'm gonna do it on my terms!" [Tangent: Sorry. I mean oops. Spoiler Alert for movies that came out over 25 years ago.] But those movies have other story lines and the illness isn't the star of the show.  It is more of a supporting character that moves plot along. [Tangent: Also, for the record...I love both of those movies!]

Maybe I just question why this trend has exploded in the last few years. I feel like every young adult book or movie I see somehow revolves around a premise that one of the two parties is somehow sick or in a life or death situation [Tangent: Or mentally ill...or suicidal.]. It's very odd to me. There are other ways to throw complexities into a story than to reduce a person to a diagnosis and make them the saddest human on the planet.

As I wrote about in this blog post from 3 years ago, my favorite childhood author was Lurlene McDaniel who wrote such hits stories as "Baby Alicia Is Dying"; "She Died Too Young"; "Sixteen and Dying"; "For Better, For Worse, Forever" etc etc. [Tangent: I feel like the titles alone give you a pretty good idea of the content of these books. I probably don't need to explain that in each book a character died and she had a whole series of books revolving around make-a-wish scenarios.] I read every word she printed on paperback. You get the idea, I was a really morbid kid who loved to question mortality and it's effects, but I was 11, so my falling for the obvious devices seemed understandable, albeit a bit strange. Besides it was the early 90s, what else was I doing?

Now with the trailer for Everything Everything, I'm realizing this weird trend is here to stay. Now this is the norm. It seems Lurlene needs to start optioning her books for film. She is missing a huge opportunity.

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