Lessons to Unlearn from “Smash”

Oy, am I going to have to do this one now?

Lesson: Threatening a woman is one way to show you you loooooove her. In last week’s episode, Michael, the guy playing Joe DiMaggio in the musical about Marilyn Monroe that serves as this show’s premise, made out with Julia, the lyricist/book writer for the Marilyn musical. They had a fling five years ago, on another show they did together. At the time, she was married with a kid and he was single. Now they are both married with kids.

So naturally in this episode, Julia basically wants to pretend that kiss – which was quite a kiss – never happened and wants Michael to leave her alone and not talk to her and not try to be alone with her and DEFINITELY not kiss her. Michael, for whatever reason, is having no qualms about cheating on his wife or endangering his child’s well-being, and wants to talk to her. He badgers her at work. He calls her at home and has a pleasant chat with her husband.  When she tells him to leave her alone, he threatens to make a scene at a rehearsal so that their affair will become known to all and sundry in her working life. He calls her at home and has a pleasant chat with her husband.

Then they fall into each other’s arms because how can you resist a love so rare and true?

The truth: Men need to respect boundaries. No, wait. All people need to respect boundaries. If a person tells you, “I do not want to see you,” then you don’t get to see them. You sure as hell don’t get to threaten their lives to make them see you. Okay, he didn’t threaten her life. Just her work and her family. Which is what she does with her life.

Look, through all this coercing and threatening, they have sex. And, if one can go by the not-at-all discrete smiles on their faces the next day, it’s awesome. So some of you might say, “See, see, the threatening and the blackmail is because he looooooves her and it’s okay.”

Right. But let’s remember this is fiction. The storytellers chose to use those behaviors to clue us in to Michael’s deep emotional thing for Julia. The storytellers chose to use positive post-sex guilty smiles to let us know that their deep emotional mutual thing is totally mutual and awesome.

And that in and of itself is the problem. Threatening someone should be the first act of a person the storytellers are going to show is dangerous. Not hotly passionate.

Darlings, some of you might see this as more goody-goody prating from my alter ego. You think that she is under the impression that dark passion and crazy emotional behavior have no place in love and lust. But darlings, the truth is, the essence of great sex is the knowledge that you can trust your lover to keep his or her counsel. If you do something deliciously dirty with your lover, something that was rollicking good fun but which would be highly embarrassing to you to have known widely, and then your lover says to you the next day, “I will tell everyone you did that thing with me unless you . . .”, you will not only feel terrible about having done that thing which was yesterday delicious and today is only dirty, you will not be inclined to do other embarrassing and dirty things with your lover, no matter how delicious a prospect those things are. 

Yeah, thanks, Sophia. And, because I can’t say it enough, we live in the stories we grow up around, sometimes it can be confusing when our lovers act like the romantic heroes of TV and movies – and fuck up our lives.

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