Hollywood may have gone ga ga for La La Land, but not everyone agrees it’s worth the hype. As Mark Judge points out, many have found the movie to be little more than “a dramatic facade.”
But did it need to be so dramatic?
But the drama would have imploded if the two main characters had simply tied the knot.
And there was no compelling reason for them not to.
I suppose the conceit that Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) and Mia (Emma Stone) felt they had to choose between marrying each other and their careers is a realistic portrayal of modern youth; but it also makes the movie less of a dramatic facade and more of a prettily dressed window into reality. For reasons that remain perplexing, young people today have bought into the silly narrative that they cannot both get married and flourish professionally. This is mostly driven by the post-feminist narrative that women should be established in their careers before they say, “I do.” Case in point, articles like this one in Slate, which argues that a husband is actually worse for a woman’s career than her kids.
And yet, many of these very same women are already living as if they were married, taking themselves off the dating market and cohabitating with their boyfriends. Plenty of them even clean up after, cook for, and bear children for their boyfriends, who in turn offer absolutely nothing.
At least in La La Land, Sebastian cooks Mia a nice dinner; nevertheless, they are very much like many young couples today at the start of their careers who feel like they must consequently keep marriage at bay. Study after study make plain that today’s millennials are delaying or forgoing marriage entirely at unprecedented rates, with economic and professional reasons as the primary cause. As one Washington Post article on the phenomenon put it, “Marriage is indeed a financial investment, which explains why people their 20s aren’t ready to take the plunge.”
And yet that statement is a nonsequitur. People who have very little money can still invest and are constantly encouraged to do so. Today’s financial gurus will tell you the earlier you invest, the richer off you will be later; that a dollar today can turn into a million dollars after a few patient decades. And so on.
Likewise, with marriage, you are making an investment of yourself with another person, often long before you have fully blossomed into the person you are meant to become. And anyway, do we ever stop developing as people? The idea that we cannot commit to another person without being fully established as ourselves, something that arguably never stops occurring throughout our lives, just short-changes us of the chance to develop more fully as a part of married life with another.
And making a life-long commitment actually has the effect of forcing two people to maximize life goals together, something Mia and Sebastian could have pulled off. Had they been married or engaged, something tells me they could have pulled off her traveling overseas to shoot her film for a few months while he took a break from touring. Then she could have returned while he opened his jazz club. Or they simply could have endured a few months apart (they wouldn’t have been the first couple to do so). Then they could have had kids, and balanced the various demands of their careers, each making sacrifices for the other. That would make them just like many married couples who simply find ways every day to make it work, to pursue our dreams alongside each other, while at the same time continuing to grow together.
You don’t have to live in la la land to be happily married with kids and two fulfilling careers. Anyone who tells you otherwise is the one living disconnected from reality.