THIS WEEK: October 16 – 20, 2011
The Week At Large
So former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has been killed, and people are dancing in the streets in celebration. Personally, I’m not sure his death—or anyone’s—should be a cause for celebration. But speaking of death and celebration (a shameless segue if there ever was one), the season two premier of The Walking Dead aired last Sunday, and with a hell of a good episode to boot. Even better, the episode scored a record 7.3 million total viewers, making the show the most watched drama in the history of basic cable … or so they’re saying. And since we’re already talking about horrors, have you heard that Warner Bros. has said that they would like actor and director Ben Affleck to direct the studio’s adaptation of Stephen King’s post-apocalyptic novel, The Stand? He hasn’t been officially asked yet, so no word on whether he’s even interested in the project. Still, Affleck’s a solid director, and I’d be curious to see what he can do with the material. But let’s end it there with the horror. It’s high time for something a little more uplifting.
The Close Up
In the stories told by “intelligent” people, marriage has become something to be wary of, perhaps even to be suspicious of. You see, with (slightly) more people filing for divorce than deciding to stay married, the institution of marriage has become something to be defended only reluctantly…for storytellers, anyway.
Sure, everyone still enjoys love stories, but a story of a happy marriage? That, my friends, is a rare thing. In comedies, a wedding is an appropriate ending, but maybe that’s only because we find the whole institution so laughable. In dramas, we expect our couples to be bitter and unhappy. That is what we call serious and respectable fiction.
Even still, I resist the call to jump on that particular bandwagon. As many have explained to me, I am a sap—always have been, and always will be. And so I couldn’t help but smile (and, dare I mention, tear up … just a little) when I heard the story of Norma and Gordon Yeager, an elderly couple married seventy-five years who both died together and while holding hands.
While driving together on Oct 12 of this year, the couple’s car collided with the another vehicle; Norma and Gordon were subsequently rushed to the intensive care unit of a hospital near Marshalltown. Gordon, age 94, died first at 3:38 PM. But surprising to both the hospital staff and the couple’s grown children was that even after Gordon stopped breathing, his heart monitor still registered a heartbeat. Eventually, staff discovered that, because the couple was still holding hands, Norma’s heart was actually beating through her husband’s body. Nearly an hour later, Norma, age 90, also succumbed to her injuries.
It’s this kind of story that makes a softy like me tear up. Hell, this kind of thing could very well make a grown man weep. And that’s all right. Stories such as these are deeply touching and should be received emotionally and sincerely.
But that doesn’t mean I would ever write a love story that ends with such a deathbed scene. You may remember that the popular film The Notebook had a very similar ending to the ending of Norma and Gord’s story. And yet, if I remember correctly, it was that scene that seemed the most implausible and farfetched. Really? I thought. A couple dying in bed together, and doing so by sheer will? Ridiculous.
And I still think that. Even after hearing about Norma and Gord, I still believe The Notebook has an excessively sappy and implausible ending.
Why do I still think that? Honestly, I don’t know. But I’d love to see the world of fiction and the world of happy marriages try to reconcile their differences and get back together.
But is it too late for such a proposal?
As a happily married man, I hope not.
The 168 Turnaround is a week-in-review column, a place for me to reflect on the week’s most interesting pop culture news items. If it mattered to me or I think it might matter to you, then it will be here. If I’ve overlooked an important news item, or if you have a comment or question, please leave a response below. Thank you for reading.