Once again, Hollywood dishes up stereotypical singles.
When Lauren Bacall wanted to get Bogart’s attention in To Have and Have Not, she didn’t wait for him to make the first move. She shimmied up to his room and purred, “If you want me, just whistle. You know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve? You just put your lips together and blow.” (Every man, woman and bird in a five-mile radius was whistling after she shut the door.) Or take a page from Bette Davis’ book. As she tells one suitor in Cabin in the Cotton: “I’d like to kiss you, but I just washed my hair.”
Not everyone can toss off such bon mots, but the characters in He’s Just Not That Into You, should give it a try.
Unfortunately, love is a many-splattered thing here. Either hearts are breaking, about to break or unrequited love is hanging in the air like the stench of a dead carcass. However, as a primer on 21st-century behavior, Into You is instructive. First lesson — despite mating pressures, our emotional connections are tenuous; second, our technological ones are isolating.
In this dateless-in-Baltimore saga, the city is populated by white 20- and 30 somethings addicted to exposed brick. Minorities, when they appear, are cute or gay. And everyone is remarkably fit and employed. Their romantic solvency is another story.
The film’s title, which began as a throwaway comment on Sex and the City, says it all. In Sex, Miranda is making excuses for a man who hasn’t called. Carrie’s new boyfriend, trying to save her friend pain and suffering, cuts to the chase: “He’s just not that into you.” The explanation is simple; the epiphany astounding! Men are not complicated, and there are no mixed messages. If he doesn’t call after a date, he’s history.
Finding a soul mate — or someone you want to have coffee with — isn’t always easy, but as Into You illustrates, having six different ways to be rejected — cellphones, email, text, Blackberry, Facebook and MySpace is mind-boggling. Prediction: the next hot job will be intimacy counselor. Learning to seduce face-to-face may be a bigger hurdle for Gen Y than deciding to vote.
Into You features an all-star cast — Jennifer Aniston, Ben Affleck, Jennifer Connelly. But let’s begin with its central character Gigi (Ginnifer Goodwin), who is desperate to couple — with anyone. Yet she’s rejected so often, one prays for euthanasia. Puppy-dog panting aside, she’s a sweet girl, but her standards are lower than the market. Anyone with a scrotum will suffice.
She shares her romantic desires with two office mates, Jennifer Aniston and Jennifer Connelly. The former has a longtime boyfriend who refuses to marry her; the latter is married. But in true Hollywood fashion, Gigi is punished for bad hair. Her “do” is so severe, it’s intimidating. Translation: she’s not having sex. Ergo, her husband falls for Scarlett Johansson, who is destined to spend her film career as the slutty muse.
Of course, Into You’s theme isn’t just women chasing rainbows. Men are also susceptible. Connor is so loopy over Johansson he needs gay guys to tell him, “Dude, she’s just not that into you!” Both sexes could benefit from Dr. Gail Saltz’s take on the film.
A psychoanalyst and author of Becoming Real: Defeating the Stories We Tell Ourselves That Hold Us Back, Saltz suggests not wasting time on something that won’t happen. And don’t internalize it as a rejection. Instead of making excuses for men (or women), just move on! Excuses protect us from negative emotions, “but if you are always in denial and your head is in the sand … it keeps you holding onto a relationship where there is none,” she told WebMD.
Take your cue from Rhett Butler — don’t give a damn! Cut your losses and cast your net elsewhere. The world is a big place, though new modes of communication can foster false hope. “The emailing that goes on before the first date creates the illusion that you know the person. When they don’t call you back, it seems more mystifying,” says Saltz, “but you really don’t know each other at all.”
Too true. It’s impossible to read real emotions in emails. Wit can appear snarky, while casual friendliness can mimic desire. Facebook? As the New Yorker cartoon of a posting pooch noted, “On the Internet, no one knows you’re a dog.”
Terrence Real, founder of the Relational Recovery Institute in Cambridge, Mass., and author of several books on male emotional health, sees He’s Just Not That Into You as a plus. It teaches women to have “good psychological boundaries.” Some men, he warns, are just “love avoidant.”
People, let’s strive for a saner course. If he/she doesn’t respond to your overtures, or return calls after a date, chalk it up to experience. If you want to be into something, rent any classic film with Bette Davis, Cary Grant or Katherine Hepburn. The battle between the sexes is fun, the dialogue is snappy and the romance is never gooey. Who could ask for anything more?
So… girlfriends and guyfriends. What do you think about this article and the theme it addresses? Love it? Hate it? Indifferent? We’d love to read your comments below!