In Hollywood, Bollywood, Nollywood, Tollywood etc. whenever the on-screen characters have a problem, it’s usually followed by a direct confrontation and a bit of turbulence along the way, but in the end there’s always a positive outcome. This is the typical movie formula and it runs like clockwork.
You’re probably thinking, “Well duh Sharan of course movies run like clockwork, they’re scripted!” I know, I know, just humour me for a second.
In movie confrontations, no one interrupts anyone mid-sentence, everyone listens (I mean actually listens!) and each person has equal opportunity to profess their profound monologue, there’s even room for pregnant pauses for thought. This gives us hope as an audience, that maybe just maybe, we could apply their communication techniques, which seem so simple but healthy, to our own real life (messed up) situations…but I’m here to say we can’t.
Those people on the big screen are just paid actors reciting words from a script. Real life is not so neat and tidy, it’s a mess!
In real life, if you decide to confront someone, even if you have the purest of intentions, they may not even give you two seconds of their time to say your peace. And if they do decide to humour you, chances are they won’t be sitting there silently giving you their undivided attention until it’s their cue to speak. Be prepared for lots of butting in, eye rolls and strong language flying about.
In the heat of the moment, half of the things you say may not even make any sense! The actors follow a script that’s been revised a billion times before getting a final seal of approval, so you can be sure that every single word they utter will be strong and meaningful.
In real life however, we’re not all articulate enough as to be able to express in words in that precise moment what we’re feeling or what we really mean, which can lead to lots of frustration and anger. Plus we sure as hell don’t all have the patience to listen. When we feel like we’re under attack we’re only focused on defending ourselves or hurting the other person.
Additionally, in the movies, if there’s a dramatic exit and a person leaves the situation, they’ll go away to contemplate what was said (the other person’s words echoing in their head, usually in the pouring rain with contemplative music softly playing in the background). Eventually after much thinking, they’ll return to tie up all loose ends and everyone hugs it out and moves forward together.
But in real life, when someone leaves, there’s no guarantee that they’ll return. And even if they do, they may completely avoid the situation and never address it again, leaving the issue swept under the rug…neither scenario is particularly healthy.
The thing is, you just can’t predict which way the situation will go. Will you be met with complete silence? Or utter denial? Or floods of tears? Or wall punching? You may not get honesty and openness, or that therapy session that the movies made you believe was possible, especially when someone feels like they’re being ambushed, they’re unlikely to respond to you in a calm and collected way.
In real life there’s no narrator in the background telling us what the other person is thinking, or what our next move should be. There’s no fast forward time facility to see if everything will work out well in the end. There’s no mood suggestive music to indicate whether you’re about to have a positive or negative encounter.
Talking about your feelings and laying everything on the table requires A LOT of maturity and security in yourself, not all of us manage to reach that place in our lives. It’s easy to point fingers at others and call out someone else’s behaviour, but when our own character and choices are being questioned, few of us are able to handle it.
So as much as we may love to watch movies, maybe we shouldn’t use them as guidelines for our real lives, because in doing so we could end up doing more harm than good. Instead we should take into account what our friends/family are like as real people and act according to that in a mature and judgement-free way.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, let’s stick to watching movies more as a means of escapism and less as a self-help tool!