Happily Ever After · 30 July 2016

by Anne Anderson (1874 – 1930)
This work is in the public domain.

Watching movies this summer has got me wondering. What is wrong with happy endings?

Summer is a time when my wife, The Mindboggling Mrs. Miyoshi, and I catch up on our movie watching. We have watched several so far. No marathon watching or anything like that, but we have watched quite a few. Apparently, I have no ability to pick good movies. My wife points that out whenever I happen to get a movie from the library that does not meet her standards. She is right of course (that is a completely different story), but do not tell her I said so.

We have watched a variety of movies so far. Some good. Some bad (and not all were my picks). Some, somewhere in between. We have watched action and romance and comedy. And we have watched teen movies.

It is funny, but the movies geared toward teenagers are the ones I wonder about the most. Why is it that they do not seem to have many happy endings? They make me wonder if there is something wrong with happy endings.

Sleeping Beauty
by Henry Meynell Rheam (1859 – 1920)
This work is in the public domain.

Now, I know that life is not like Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty or any of the classic Disney movies that I grew up with. Life is not even like Shrek, where an ogre gets to marry the princess in the end. Of course, in all of these stories, they lived happily ever after. While I know this is not always real life, it is nice that we can transcend life and look to a happy ending. It is nice to think that there is something better than just trials and tribulations all our lives and then it is over. If I was in a preaching mood, I would say that it is even Biblical to look for happily ever after. But again, that is another story.

Or maybe not. Maybe the point of happily ever after is just that. Pointing to a better life may be the whole point of happy endings after all.

Which brings me back to those teen movies. It seems odd to me that the ones who need hope the most like the movies that give hope the least. Those movies geared toward teens seem to be the ones that are darkest and give us little hope. They point to the worst in people and give us reasons to shun others instead of showing us the best in people and giving us reason to embrace each others’ humanity and protect each others’ frailty.

It is odd to me that even the most violent and action-packed adventure movies almost always have happily ever after endings. The good guys win and the bad guys lose. Justice prevails, and we finish the movie satisfied that all is right with the world. But the movies that ought to be fun-loving and hope-filled are dreary and sad. Or at least anti-climactic.

I guess that is life these days. We want to watch those depressing movies so that we can compare ourselves to them and say that we must be doing okay. We cannot think that we might possibly have an outside chance at a happily ever after ending. So we do not watch those kinds of movies because we do not want to get our hopes up.

Or so the reasoning goes.

Fortunately, I can reject such reasoning. I must hope for the best in life. I must see the best in each person I meet. And I must make the best of each and every situation I find myself in. I must even rejoice in suffering. (By the way, that is Biblical too.) But in this fragile world, I embrace the good and the bad, the happy and sad, and even the blah because it is all part of this wonderful life. The worst helps make the best even better. (Yes, those bad movie picks are worth something.) So even if nobody else does, I like happy endings. And even though we do not always get to have the happy ending in real life, I for one always like the shows where they lived happily ever after.

© 2016 Michael T. Miyoshi

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