I just spoke on talk radio with Stephanie Gunning and Nancy Peske (I definitely want to check out her book, Cinema Therapy) (my NY interview). I’m still wired from great conversation with interesting people so I thought I’d continue the conversation here.
When I finish something I generally think, yikes! why didn’t I…. (probably says something deep about the voice in my head). This time I wish I had mentioned more recent movies! There are a ton! Like The Help. Which made me think about being helpful and the difference between the Hero and the Virgin.
The Hero helps others because they really need it. People could die. He learns there are things that are worth dying for and he pushes back the boundaries of his mortality to do it. All good. Hero grows personally, village is preserved and protected.
Now the Virgin is a different story. When she helps others it is often at the expense of herself as seen in The Help. People have power over her and she makes herself small to appease them. It’s like feeding the angry dragon so it won’t be grumpy and burn you (I’m thinking How to Train Your Dragon here). You give them what they want by being helpful and no trouble. This kind of helping you want to grow out of.
Psychologically, being helpful can be a sign that your protagonist doesn’t recognize her intrinsic worth – she needs a good Virgin’s journey (Maid in Manhattan, Ever After). Sometimes she is helpful to build a debt that she hopes will be repaid later. There is no healthy sense of entitlement that just because she exist she has the right to be the leading lady in her life. She needs to learn she can take up some space in life (that’s my favorite message from The Holiday). She thinks she can help others and some day they will turn around and say “your turn, how can I help you, love you, make space for you.” Of course that rarely happens unit she recognizes she can ask for it.
I did it again. More recent Virgin movies = The King’s Speech, An Education, Easy A, Black Swan – I’ve got to start watching more in the theaters! These are all out on video….