I find Lady Gaga such a fascinating figure, not because of her artistic talents as much as the paradoxical nature of her public self. On the one hand, she often comes across as naive or simplistic, with the “love yourself” message she constantly sends out to her adoring fans. As I’ve written before, you can’t achieve authentic self-esteem in that way, but she nonetheless seems genuinely to believe in that message. During the many talk show interviews she has given, whenever she speaks to fans in the audience, she comes across as sincere and caring.
On the other hand, here’s what she said to Anderson Cooper about “fame management” during their interview on 60 Minutes: “One of my greatest art works is the art of fame. I’m a master of the art of fame.” This makes her sound almost calculating, so entirely conscious of herself and the impression she makes at every moment of every day that you have to wonder whether her “love yourself” message is just another part of image management.
Rebecca Miller’s “The Ballad of Jack and Rose” (2005) presents an intimate look at how father-daughter relationships can cross the line into covert or emotional incest. Rose (Camilla Belle) is the 16-year old daughter of terminally ill Jack (Daniel Day-Lewis). They have been living in isolation, just the two of them, on a small island, the site of a failed commune; Rose’s mother had long since left. From the start, we get the feeling of a complicit, intimate, and closed system between father and daughter. Not only has Rose taken the role of “wife” in the household, but having home-schooled her, Jack has shut her off from developing relationships with others.
One way of looking at romantic love is through these three stages:Love without Knowledge, Knowledge without Love, Love with Knowledge. We explore these phases by looking at “Sleepless in Seattle,” “The Story of Us,” and “When Harry Met Sally.”
Even though this film was made in 1999, and took place in 1969, many of the themes covered in A Walk on the Moon are still relevant for some women and some relationships today. Set in the 60’s, a time of change, this film poses questions of unlived lives, longing, sacrifice, duty, and choice. Our characters grieve for what cannot be, explore new territory, and experience initiations.
In Part I, I wrote about ideas of lost love and creativity; here are some film examples of creativity after loss. I believe our quality of life is enhanced by our ability to feel our whole range of emotions, including our grief. It is challenging to be a fully feeling human being, but being so allows us more access to our creativity and depths.
Certain films point to the creativity that can follow in the aftermath of an impeded, unrequited or lost love, or simply a love that just doesn’t work out. Sometimes a juncture is reached in a relationship in which it can go no further, whether through death, divorce, rejection, betrayal, circumstance or choice. There are various ways we can react to such loss and grief. We can be in denial, numb out, avoid our pain through addiction of any sort (including busy-ness), become stuck in the past, or try to find another “love object” ASAP, among other things. We can sublimate, or something new can emerge
It seems challenging to find a “good” man (especially a father) who is presented as a sexual being in movies. This seems to reflect the “splitting” in our society; having lots of sex and being sexy touted as being supremely desirable, especially in advertising, yet we don’t see many male role models in television or film depicting an integrated male sexuality. What I mean by this is a man considered both “good” and hot.
Adolescence is a tricky time for fathers and daughters. The film My First Mister (2001) presents some ideas of how to skillfully traverse this territory. Jennifer (Leelee Sobieski), who goes by the name of “J”, has just graduated from high school. She self-mutilates, is a “goth,” and is alone, lonely and nihilistic. Her parents are divorced. Her mother (Carol Kane) is Pollyanna-ish; the mother and daughter are polar opposites who can’t relate. Her father (John Goodman) is a pothead with whom she has very little contact.
The film “Pandora and the Flying Dutchman” (1951) gives us the opportunity to question some of our most cherished notions about romantic love.
The film Pandora and the Flying Dutchman (1951) illustrates the archetype of the Ghostly Lover. An archetype is a symbol or pattern that consistently recurs and is recognizable as a part of human experience, often seen in myths or fairy tales. Viewing Pandora as if it were a fairy tale helps shed light on the dynamics of the Ghostly Lover who keeps us in the realm of dreams, not of earthly life. This lover can be someone for whom we “carry a torch,” the one that got away, or a fantasy ideal of a soul-mate. He or she often resides in the land of “what if” or “what could have been,” creating what Linda Schierse Leonard calls an “impossible possibility.” This dynamic can set up an infernal longing for something that does not exist or can never be.