If you see as many movies as I have — and I’d strongly caution against doing so — you’ll start to notice the patterns. Through sheer repetition of stock characters and plot threads, Hollywood perpetuates a lot of myths about modern living that are not exactly true. Many of them are downright ridiculous. We Were Promised Hoverboards is a weekly series in which I investigate these myths for sociological and comedic purposes.
The Myth: If you fall in love with someone under false pretenses while conducting an elaborate ruse, your new lover will be mad at you once the truth comes out, but they will forgive you right away.
The Perpetrators: The Secret of My Success, Tootsie, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Working Girl, Never Been Kissed, 27 Dresses, Nobody’s Perfect, Just One of the Guys, Yes Man, Failure to Launch, Overboard, While You Were Sleeping, A Fish Called Wanda, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, Ladybugs, Avatar, Juwanna Mann, The Hudsucker Proxy, Employee of the Month, Kindergarten Cop, There’s Something About Mary, Opportunity Knocks, Straight Talk, What Women Want, 10 Things I Hate About You, She’s the Man, Whatever It Takes, The New Guy, Boat Trip, Hiding Out, Wedding Crashers
When it comes to romantic entanglements, trust is crucial. Most of us really seem to get a kick out of not being totally betrayed by the person whose gentle caresses light up our lives. Unfortunately, sometimes in this crazy world, circumstances force people to weave a web of lies. For instance, a struggling actor might dress up in full body drag for an extended acting job, all the while forging a deep Sapphic bond with a female costar, causing her to question her sexual orientation. Then again, maybe the lie might be one of omission, like a reporter failing to mention to the woman he’s dating that he is secretly writing a profile for a popular newspaper about her being a perpetual bridesmaid who is obsessed with weddings. It’s like the great military strategist Sun Tzu said: “Love is a battlefield!”
What people in the middle of a complicated ruse probably never see coming, though, is the possibility that they might actually fall in love with someone during the course of lying to their face all the time. Unfortunately, since love is a thing that’s built on mutual respect and trust, once this particular love-fest is inevitably revealed to be wholly a product of manipulation, that’s the end of that chapter… for like 10 minutes.
It sounds a little farfetched, sure — total horsecrap, some might even say — but people apparently don’t waste much time before absolving their betrayers for the sin of their trickery. Somehow in movies, relationships founded under false pretensions are always restored to their former glory almost immediately. “Everything I thought about you until now was based on lies. Not mere fibs, but serious, balls-out lies. Clearly, you have ‘sensible decision’ written all over your face. Go wash it off your face so we can go have sex more.”
This is absurd. For one thing, very few datable individuals would allow themselves to become ensnared in some long-term subterfuge. And of those nonexistent people, even fewer might actually fall in love in the process. Most would be too racked with paranoia about having their house of liar-cards blown down. More importantly, though, after the deception came to light, how would their partner ever be able to trust them again? It’s not as though they confessed what they were up to once they realized they were falling in love. Nobody ever confesses because once they decide to do so and announce, “There’s something I have to tell you,” that is precisely when the phone rings with some news that renders the confession inconvenient.
Trust is something easily broken, but nearly impossible to fix. It’s bad enough catching your partner in a big lie, but if that big lie is part of what brought you together in the first place, that’s no mere deal-breaker; “it’s a total eclipse of the heart,” as Stephen Hawking might say.