[Finger](And I’m Sure You Know Which One)

Taken from Great Moments in Framing. Read the article, if you don’t think the picture justifies my title.

Also see a very interesting post by Scott Aaronson, from where I got the link in the first place:

Consider the following template, which (with small variations) might describe a third of the world’s movies and novels:

  1. Girl, the protagonist, is set to marry the well-off, educated Dependable Guy, who does something insufferable for a living such as working.  Girl’s parents strongly favor this union.
  2. Girl meets (or re-meets) Dashing Artist Guy, who steals her heart away.  In the closing scene, Girl and DAG walk happily into the sunset; Dependable Guy is not shown.

[…](The writers stack the odds)
in Dashing Artist Guy’s favor by making Dependable Guy some combination of mean, old, lecherous, ugly, humorless, or vengeful, or by making Girl’s marriage to him a forced one. (Think of Cal in Titanic or Lazar Wolf in Fiddler on the Roof.) In the more interesting variants, Dependable Guy might have none of the negative qualities, and Girl might be shown agonizing over a genuine choice—but she still always goes for DAG in the end.
Interestingly, the writers invariably stack the deck further by portraying DAG as 100% committed to Girl—even though a realistic assessment might find that if DAG stole one heart, then he can and will steal plenty of others as well, and thus the notion of Girl and DAG living together happily ever after may simply represent audience members’ wish-fulfillment fantasy. Indeed, skepticism about DAG’s long-term motives might be the reason Girl’s parents favor Dependable Guy.

I find it a little ironic that I’m supporting something that holds up what is a de-facto arranged marriage as a more sensible alternative, but I console myself by thinking that people who know me (or regular readers here, for that matter) will understand the nuances of the situation.

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4 thoughts on “[Finger](And I’m Sure You Know Which One)

  1. [Warning: stereotypical comment ahead]

    The thing is that writer’s usually see themselves as the DAG (however realistic _that_ assesment is), so, of course, they want to see him winning.

    [Stereotypes ending here, for the most part]

    I’d still go for the dependable guy, it’s something I really value. [Unfortunately, as mentioned above he’s usually portrayed as an asshole and someone incapable of love. As if the mere presence of reason destroys love.]

    Oh well.

    Thing is, everyone has to choose for themselves.

  2. >>As if the mere presence of reason destroys love.

    Exactly!!! Ever read Atlas Shrugged? Remember that scene where Jim Taggart and his wife are arguing over why they got married in the first place?

    “Jim, what is it that you want to be loved for?”
    “What a cheap shopkeeper’s attitude!”
    She did not speak; she looked at him, her eyes stretched by a silent question.
    “To be loved for!” he said, his voice grating with mockery and righteousness. “So you think that love is a matter of mathematics, of exchange, of weighing and measuring, like a pound of butter on a grocery counter? I don’t want to be loved for anything. I want to be loved for myself—not for anything I do or have or say or think. For myself—not for my body or mind or words or works or actions.”
    “But then . . . what is yourself?”
    “If you loved me, you wouldn’t ask it.” His voice had a shrill note of nervousness, as if he were swaying dangerously between caution and some blindly heedless impulse. “You wouldn’t ask. You’d know. You’d feel it. Why do you always try to tag and label everything? Can’t you rise above those petty materialistic definitions? Don’t you ever feel—just feel?”

    The answers, ofcourse, are all over the book. Not that I think it’s all that great. But this specific passage displays my problem with the concept fairly well. And this is coming from someone who always considered himself a hopeless romantic :)

  3. Ok, now I’m thinking, this may not be exactly what you meant. But I wanted to make the point, even so :)

  4. Unfortunately haven’t read Atlas Shrugged, yet. It’s on my reading list (which could be wrapped around the world. Twice).

    I agree with Jim and I don’t… You don’t need to label and tag everything, all the time. But not labeling something cannot be a permanent state. We depend too much on categorising.

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