today i was thinking about why i like the exorcist so much. there are obviously a ton of good reasons — strong cast, excellent character development, amazing special effects, religious themes that resonate with me in a big way — but today i realized something else about it i hadn’t thought of before: no romantic subplot!
i couldn’t believe i never noticed this before. i mean, romantic subplots are ubiquitous, and one of the things i hate most in film, TV, and books. nothing ruins a story for me quicker than a predictable, paint-by-numbers story arc: boy meets girl, they seem perfect together, a misunderstanding makes one doubt the other, the misunderstood one vindicates themselves, happily ever after. barf.
what’s even worse is that so many movies and TV shows actually focus largely on this kind of romantic subplot formula but use different story backgrounds so that they can market the show at a different audience. walking dead and true blood for horror fans, mad men for hipsters, breaking bad for skids, game of thrones and big bang theory for nerds…the list goes on. all these shows employ the same old “i thought i could trust you, tim..i thought you were different from the others. i guess i was wrong…” bullshit romantic melodrama, and it’s not just a small side story. that’s actually the focus of the show. the zombies, sword battles, and meth labs are actually the minor details in those shows. they just provide a seemingly unlikely stage where the romance can take place.
yup, everyone just wants to watch the same shitty love story over and over.
i’m veering way off topic onto one of my usual rants so let me rein it back in here. my point is that while most shows employ hackneyed romantic techniques not only for subplots but for primary plots, the exorcist doesn’t even contemplate romance at all. there is zero romance in it. it’s about other things: good, evil, faith, loss of faith. what a breath of fresh air.
but then i started thinking about some of my other favourite films, like the deer hunter, blade runner, the last temptation of christ, akira, the shining, princess mononoke, and apocalypse now, and i realized that there is very little romance in those too. and what romance there is, is far more complex and understated.
i’m not surprised that i prefer subtle, more interesting approaches to typical themes like romance but what i am surprised by is that i didn’t even notice until now that the greatest films of all time (in my opinion, anyway) would place so little emphasis on romance, if any at all.
that just reinforces my belief that romance for the sake of romance in art is just a cheap technique to sell shoddy products to disinterested audiences. i’m sure the same applies to every other medium, too.
people are so disappointing.
all that being said, i still really like love story from 1970. that was a touching flick.