Why Our Lives Are More Perfect Than The Movies…

Last week I discussed why rain will never be as romantic in real life as it is portrayed in the movies. I discovered that movies romanticize a lot of things. This led me to the following question:

Do movies sell us standards no one will ever be able to live up to?

This question is very hard. I mean, it is not hard to answer: Yes. Yes, movies definitely sell us standards no one can live up to. A hilarious number of shattered first date expectations, “proposals gone wrong”-videos on YouTube and emergency room admissions for brides who were danced away by their back flipping dads can prove that.
The tricky part of this question, however, is to explain what these high standards mean for our real life. Do high standards have a large impact on our expectations? Does the lack of fulfillment of these expectations make us less happy with what we have?


Let’s answer the last question first. If we consult Buddha – you know the guy most of our parents have in their backyards – we will find that expectations are the  one thing that makes us unsatisfied and therefore unhappy. Buddhism basically says: ‘Have no pleasure and you will have no pain’ and ‘the expectation of pleasure most likely brings nothing but pain’. While this attitude is rather hefty and made Buddha want to spent most of his life in strict ascesis, he has a point. Expectations are what can ruin a perfectly good thing. We all know this phenomenon. Movies, to stay on topic, are a great example:

So, your friend is talking up a movie she recently watched in the theater. “Oh my gosh, it was like, the best movie like eveeeerr” –  yes, your friend is in a sorority. She keeps talking about how brilliant this movie is and convinces you to finally watch it with her. Pumped up by the expectations, you are totally let down by the movie. Sure, it’s ok, but not nearly as good as your friend promised it to be. Had you seen the same movie on a rainy night on your couch with no expectation towards it whatsoever, you probably would have liked it a lot more!


In order to answer the question whether movies have a large impact on our expectations, we have to go personal. Since a movie’s impact will vary from person to person, it is hard and  maybe not wise to generalize. If I consider myself, though, I can tell you that movies have a major impact on my expectations and my entire worldview. “Love actually…”, for example, had such a huge impact on me that I actually wrote my feelings for a girl in my class – I was in elementary school – on a piece of paper and delivered it to her doorstep. Unfortunately, I only wrote something weird like ‘Ich find dich irgendwie total super’ and ran away  awkwardly after handing the paper to her, instead of bravely awaiting her reaction like Andrew Lincoln did. This ended up in me never talking to that girl ever again and why? Because my expectations were too high and her expectations were too high and admittedly because I was an awkward, clumsy baboon. But also the expectations thing.


No matter how romantic a first date, how touching a eulogy and how empowering a motivational speech is, you will always be able to find a movie which does it better. Why? Because they can have as many takes as they want. Because they have 6 people thinking about what one person is going to say. Because they have adequate music in the background for any situation imaginable and because they are not real! What actually is real is a grandpa who cannot deliver the eulogy for his wife, because she touched his heart for a lifetime instead of just 90 minutes. What actually is real is a couple to be, who have sweaty hands and behave awkwardly because this shows that what is happening is really important to them and may be really important to the future and not only for 90 minutes. What actually is real is the motivational speech that never has to be held because your motivation is your social environment in which you invest so much effort, so much tears and so much more than 90 minutes.

Real life is longer than 90 minutes. And many emotions are delivered over a very long time. They don’t have to be discharged in a heart-breaking period of 20 minutes. What happens in the real world is much more meaningful, just less intense. And  it certainly is less perfect… less planned… less thought through. But isn’t this imperfection the thing that makes what happens in the real world unique? Isn’t this imperfection the one thing that sets us apart most from the movies and that the movies will never be as good at as we real people in the real word? Isn’t this imperfection the thing that makes our lives the most… perfect?



PS: Remember to be as weird as you can possibly be.

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1 Comment on "Why Our Lives Are More Perfect Than The Movies…"

6 years 10 months ago

Such a worthy topic, thanks for writing about it!