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June 30, 2010

She lived happily (and single) ever after . . .

Congratulations! You were lucky enough to win a spot on Family Feud (back when the show was still cool because Richard Karn rocked the house). You’re only a few points away from victory, and if you get this next question right you will have done enough to send the other team packing. You brace yourself, feeling your hand creep closer to the buzzer, lips tingling with the anticipation of your next answer...

“Name a movie that ends with a woman falling in love with - or perhaps marrying - the man of her dreams.”

Pfft. Forget that. You’ve already won.

Why does it seem like 99.9% of books, movies, TV shows, songs, and [insert example here] culminate with the female lead falling in love, finding a boyfriend, getting married, or some variance of the three? I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently, and popular culture seems to think a woman’s ultimate goal is to wait patiently until she's swept away by her "prince charming." And while I, too, am a huge fan of love (at least the idea of it), I don’t see why that has to be our main objective in life.

In fact, when I tried to think of a movie that didn’t end with the immensely overrated "and they (implying a man and woman) lived happily ever after," I nearly gave myself a hernia. (It wasn't until after the dizzyness wore off that my brain kindly reminded me that I had seen such a movie. Nice.)

About a month ago my parents went to Canada to celebrate their twenty-something wedding anniversary (did you know Ontario is the new City of Love?), leaving me to defend the homestead. I ended up spending the weekend with one of my best friends, and in our boredom rented a movie called Whip It on On-Demand.

Whip-It is honestly one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long, long time. It stars Ellen Page (the lovable, smart-mouthed heroine of Juno) as Bliss Cavender, a quirky misfit who, like many of us, hasn't found her niche. Bliss's mother, a mail-carrier and former beauty pageant dynamo, expects her daughter to be the same southern belle she had been in her youth, and as you can imagine this creates more than a few problems. In a classic scene of juicy rebellion, Bliss shows up to a pageant with dyed-blue hair. Aww yeah.

The theme of the movie "be your own hero" isn't exactly original, but I found myself intrigued by the subculture of roller derby women Bliss eventually finds herself connecting with (and with names like Maggie Mayhem, Smashley Simpson, Iron Maven, and Rosa Sparks, can you blame me?). These women are tough, fearless, and unique (to say the least), and the young teen is soon welcomed into their ranks as Babe Ruthless, discovering a talent - and toughness - she never knew she had.

So, why did I bring this up?

You see, Bliss eventually falls for the lead singer/guitarist of a punk rock band, Oliver. They hit it off, he's great, he's cute, we're subject to several mushy scenes of their budding relationship . . .

But when Mr. Cool leaves to go on tour things turn ugly. First, he doesn't answer Bliss's calls when she actually needs him (i.e. after storming out of her house after a particularly nasty argument with her mother). Then, in an act that would win my dad's coveted "Dumbass Award," he gets involved with a new girl, and has the audacity to give her a shirt that Bliss had given to him.

And of course, he posts this all online. Ugh.

To make a long story short, Bliss realized what a complete jerk Oliver was. Sure, she had her moments of devastation (can you blame her?), but in the end she didn't need him to realize her own happiness. She went on to kick butt, eventually becoming this insane roller derby prodigee, and that is how the movie ended. Not with a cliche kiss, or a boyfriend, or a soulmate. And definitely not with a wedding.

If you missed my point, this whole obsession with finding "prince charming" has got to stop, ladies. Love will happen in time (if that's what you really want), but tying your own happiness, worth, and sense of accomplishment to whether or not you have a boyfriend is just ridiculous. Don't you think it's time we start making our own happy endings?

Want to check out the official trailer for "Whip It"? (You're welcome.)