We live in an era where it’s impossible to hide a twist ending to a movie. Movies like “The Empire Strikes Back” or “The Sixth Sense” simply could not be made today and have the same impact. As soon as someone sees it, they just tweet the ending and it’s spoiled for everybody. Even those without social media can’t avoid it.
You could argue whether or not this is a good thing from now and until our robot overlords enslave us. I’m not going to have that argument here. It’s not an argument anyone can win, let alone an aspiring erotica/romance writer. However, this era of excessive spoilers does sometimes pay off, if only in the sense that it saves you a few bucks here and there.
This brings me to the movie, “Passengers.” It stars Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt, two big time Hollywood stars that are at the top of their game at the moment. I’ve made my love of Jennifer Lawrence very apparent many times here on this blog and it’s not just because she walked around naked in an X-men movie, although that definitely helps.
Now I love Chris Pratt too for his role in “Parks and Recreation” and “Guardians of the Galaxy,” but I’d much rather see Jennifer Lawrence naked and covered in blue paint. That’s just me though.
So with two acting talents like this, I was naturally excited about the prospect of “Passengers.” It’s a sci-fi movie with a lot of sci-fi elements, from interstellar travel to conflicts involving how mankind goes about traveling the stars. It also is heavy on romance, which definitely appeals to me as an erotica/romance writer. After seeing the trailer, I was tempted to reserve my ticket right then and there.
Then, I read the spoilers. I found out that there’s a very important detail that this trailer leaves out. I won’t go into the full scope of that detail, but I’ll just keep it simple. This whole movie is just one big case study in Stockholm Syndrome romance and personally, that just doesn’t appeal to me.
What is the Stockholm Syndrome? Well, if you saw Beauty and the Beast as a kid, then you already know, but didn’t realize it. It’s when a hostage begins developing sympathetic, almost affectionate feelings for their captors. It’s not as crazy as it sounds. In fact, it makes perfect sense with caveman logic.
For centuries, we lived in small bands of tribes. Those tribes didn’t always get along with other tribes. Sometimes those tribes fought one another and took captives. Psychologically, this is pretty damn stressful for some people. Our brains, wired only to help us survive and reproduce, developed a mechanism to help us cope. Just being upset and terrified all the goddamn time isn’t a productive use or resources.
While it makes sense with respect to caveman logic, it also makes for a really shitty love story. This is not “Titanic.” This isn’t even “50 Shades of Grey.” At least Anastasia Steel willingly entered Christian Grey’s world of BDSM. The characters in “Passengers” didn’t get to choose shit and when they did, they chose badly.
Now based on the spoilers I read, there is a concerted effort to redeem the characters. There’s even a concerted effort to make a happy ending. However, as the Rotten Tomatoes score for the movie shows, it didn’t really work.
What happens here is that Chris Pratt’s character basically dooms Jennifer Lawrence’s character and he does it for all the wrong reasons. He just does it because he’s lonely and losing his goddamn mind. That’s understandable when you’re marooned, lonely, and lacking in some of your most basic needs as a human. However, it’s worth restating that this is a awful way of establishing a romance.
Even “Beauty and the Beast” did a better job of twisting the Stockholm Syndrome premise just enough to feel genuine. There’s none of that here. There’s nothing Pratt’s character can do to redeem himself. He effectively killed someone just because he was lonely and basically tried to lie, cheat, and justify his actions. That’s not romance. That’s making excuses.
As a result, I’m not seeing this movie. That’s not the kind of romance I care for. It sends the message that if two people are stuck together in isolation, then eventually they’ll fall in love, no matter what sort of lies and atrocities are committed behind the scene. I like to think genuine love is a bit more complex than that.
This movie sends a message that someone can just randomly pick another person and get that person to fall in love with them. I’m not a love expert by any stretch, but even I know human emotions aren’t that basic. A love story based on that premise can only ever be forced and nothing is less sexy than a forced romance.
Now there may be other factors involved in how this movie played out. The premise of the movie might not be the same as the result of the movie. I’m not qualified to speculate, but the folks at Midnight’s Edge, a YouTube channel I follow that digs into Hollywood news, do a great job of breaking it down.
Overall, it’s times like this where I’m grateful we live in a world of abundant spoilers. If this movie came out in the mid-90s, I probably wouldn’t have realized the flaws in this movie until after I bought the ticket. Thanks to spoilers, I saved myself money that could be better spent on whiskey and comics.
Now I don’t want to give the impression that my distaste for this movie is because of some radical feminist concept of men manipulating women for their own ends. I’ve made it clear on this blog that I take issue with a lot of firebrand feminism. My aversion to this movie has more to do with how poorly it handles romance.
As an erotica/romance writer, I feel like my standards for solid romance are a bit higher. Maybe that’s just a byproduct of writing about it so damn much, but it means forced romances like “Passengers” just don’t do it for me. I think Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence deserve better. Hopefully, they’ll get a chance in a future movie.