Archive for May, 2010
I gave a talk at Vancouver Film School last week and was very inspired by the students. One asked if Cast Away would be a Virgin story. I had to think about that. I asked what the message of the movie was and we decided it was about choosing your use of time. Time is a value. I never thought about that before. And the Virgin is all about choosing her values which are different from the values of her community. So YES! Castaway would be a Virgin movie in that he learned his true values separate from the values of a delivery business.Cast Away is also a really graphic example of how the Virgin is about exploring your relationship with yourself. He was alone on a desserted island and projected himself onto Wilson for company. He managed to survive against incredible odds but sunk into despair when he lost Wilson. He became detached from his realtionship with himself. Later he is reunited with his true love and she is married with children. But he is ok because he has learned that you just keep breathing and stay open to the possibility of what the ocean might wash onshore. He learned as long as he has his relationship with himself he can greet the crossroads of life with an open heart.
The Hero has the masculine journey to develop a realtionship with himself by learning to physically survive on his own. Cast Away has elements of the Hero’s journey as well, but the really interesting focus of the movie was how he related to his inner world.
This bring up the question of ultimately how many archetypal structures are there. Joesph Campbell said there is only one. I have introduced another, the feminine counterpart to the Hero.
I’m going to go way out on a limb and suggest that there are 3 universal themes in the human condition: Relationship to your self (Hero and the Virgin), realtionship to others (Mother/Goddess and Lover/King) and realtionship to the cosmos (Crone and Mentor).
Can anyone think of a good movie that isn’t ultimately about one of these three themes?
I’ve come to realize that many fairy tales are classic variations of the Virgin’s journey. Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood and now Snow White all demonstrate different ways that the Virgin interacts with her dependent world.
Snow White has a step-mother who is so self focused that she becomes enraged when Snow White’s beauty surpasses hers. How dare Snow White shine her natural beauty! The queen retaliates by trying to kill her and feed her a poison apple.
The same thing happens in Legally Blond, Rocky and Precious, movies you may not have instantly equated. In all, the Virgin is given ideas and self perceptions that are poisonous to her, from the people who are supposed to love her.
Precious is brutally put down and diminished by a mother who is jealous her husband wants her daughter instead of her. Rather than taking a stand against her husband to protect her daughter she thinks only of herself and turns her hatred onto Precious (plays the role of the Hag archetype)!
SO Precious and Snow White have a lot in common. Precious even wears a little red hairband like Snow White does. I wonder if someone consciously made the connection and put that symbol in.
In Rocky, Rocky Balboa is told by his community that he is a bum and doesn’t have what it takes to be a serious fighter. He has to fight against this poisonous message in order to fulfill his potential.
Now let’s look at how it is the same in Legally Blond. Elle is a beautiful, intelligent girl who is told by her parents that she is only a vacant pretty face, whose highest ideal is to marry rich. She is poisoned by the belief, given to her by her parents, that she is a dumb blond. The worst thing she could do was be “serious”.
This is a good time to note that none of these Virgins are inexperienced sexually. They are Virgins because they have yet to come into their unique potential; their promise. They are on the journey to become a person unto herself or himself, through the recognition of their intrinsic value – like a virgin forest.
I had a geat question from Julie on Anti-Virgins and I thought I would do a blog on it.
In an anit-virgin story, the actions of the Virgin and the community are reversed. The Virgin is still a virgin in that she has an unfulfilled potential that longs to come to life, but she is the biggest impediment to it coming true. She insists on being blind to what she needs to do to make her dream come true, even though all the people of her community are pointing her towards it.
Two great examples are Mama Mia! and The 40 Year Old Virgin. In Mamma Mia !, Sophie is young and in love with a young man who wants to explore the world but she is determined to take care of her mother and make her mother’s business a success and even have the whole white wedding her mother never had. Despite the protestations of her mother and fiance, she will not admit to herself that she really just wants to be free to explore the world. This is the challenge of the story.
Similarly, in The 40 Year Old Virgin, Andy is so afraid of being vulnerable in his sexuality that he has sublimated his urges into video games and comic action figures. When his co-workers discover he is a virgin they start working towards helping him get over the hump, as it were. Andy moves back and forth between being a Virgin and exploring his passion, and being an anti-virgin who self sabotages (and uses bad judgement when he actually listens to his yahoo co-workers) and keeps reverting to his old state. Andy is his own worst enemy as he struggles to over come his protective complex which tells him the only way to survive is to avoid intimacy with a woman.
At some point the Virgin stops working against her dream. The community may even start working against her making it a classic Virgin journey. Often, Gives Up What Kept Her Stuck is the beat on which the Anti-Virgin story turns into a Virgin story. Or, she may never learn to stop holding herslef back and we have a very tragic story.
I recently became aware that movies like Whale Rider and Bend It Like Beckham have a secondary story that is an anti-virgin story. The anti-virgin is the father in these stories and his unfulfilled virgin journey becomes the antagonists in the story. In Whale Rider, Paikea has a natural drive to restore the ancient traditions of her people. Her grandfather believes his calling is to find the next chief to lead his people from their troubled time by regaining their connection to their traditions. He is convinced the new leader must be male and is therefore insulted every time Paikea shows her true potential and tries to send her away. Paikea’s fulfillment of her Virgin journey is the catalyst her grandfather needs to Give Up What Has Kept Him Stuck and convert his Anti-Virgin Journey to his Virgin Journey.
Thanks Julie for inspiring this blog.
I saw an amazing talk on TED Talks by Dan Pink which talks about how creativity needs free space where you can make mistakes and follow your bliss. This is what the Secret World provides. It is a place where the Virgin is free to step into the shoes of her authentic self and take it for a test drive.
Keeping a Secret from her Dependent World is also an important first step of rebellion. She chooses to act on her values which are not in alignment with the values of the kingdom. The Virgin embodies the importance of the individual and will eventually bring chaos and change to the kingdom. Before she is ready for the full storm she establishes a Secret World where she can grow.
The Secret World can be a physical space as in Strictly Ballroom where Scot and Fran find place to dance without being discovered.
It can also be a state of mind. In Fight Club the number one rule of Tyler is that the narrator is never to talk about Tyler. The narrator gets so involved in his Secret World that he looses touch with reality.
Alternatively, the Secret World can be anyone who is in on the Secret as in New Waterford Girl where Mooney develops a plan to fake a pregnancy so she can be sent away from Nova Scotia and go to art school in New York City.
The Virgin moves back and forth between the two world, trying to appease the Dependent World, always fearful of discovery during the transition between the worlds.