This past weekend at Bible Study, we talked about how leadership is really responsibility, and how it’s not so much that God has chosen men to have a special status over women, but how He’s given men more and a different responsibility than women in making them the heads in the household, church, society, etc. Even at the beginning of the world, with Adam and Eve, man tried to shirk his special responsibility. That’s not that Eve wasn’t to blame, certainly she was, but Adam went along with her in doing wrong instead of leading her to follow God’s command to not eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. For some reason this all made me think of the 2001 romantic comedy Kate & Leopold starring Meg Ryan and Hugh Jackman.
Yes romcoms are often dumb, and many think of them as frivolous, but they are far from that. Like romance novels, many truths about the relationship between men and women and society in general can be found in them. I took two key takeaways from Kate & Leopold: First, men have a certain responsibility towards women in a relationship and second, a person has a duty to integrity. The movie incorporates these ideas with a muddling time travel plot in which a duke from the 1870s is transported to modern–er, 2001, New York City. This happens due to the actions of a goofy physicist named Stuart.
Let’s begin with the second takeaway first: Integrity. It’s a sentimental view, but generally we today think of societies in years past having much more moral excellence and care in all that they did than we do now. On some levels that is true, but every era has its faults and strengths. True or not, our view of, say, the 1800s in our stories is largely flattering. It was a time when there were very clear rules for things like courtship, which is a world of difference from today’s dating world where many are left to flounder. Leopold is appalled that Kate, who works in advertising, would advertise items which have no quality and little health benefit for people. Sometimes to live and eat we do find ourselves promoting and getting behind things of little or negative value, and Leopold’s figurative cold bucket of water here is that we don’t have to continue on that road. Like Kate, we can choose to live lives of integrity. It might mean changing a LOT in our lives, but it is possible. Here, the change is a time jump, so rather supernatural, but the lesson is still there. Kate finds that true love is worth that jump.
The first takeaway is what really struck me in thinking of our Bible Study discussion. Leopold has a great interaction with Kate’s younger brother, Charlie, played by Breckin Meyer. Charlie takes Leopold out to meet his friends and Leopold gets to witness firsthand what modern dating can be like. First of all, Leopold is struck by Charlie’s behavior, which is perhaps not quite what the young man really wants to exude. Second of all, he’s baffled by Charlie’s eagerness to get the girl he likes to lead the romance, and Leopold sets him straight, explaining that it’s not a burden, but a happy responsibility. Okay, maybe not happy. Intriguing? Exciting?
Leopold says this, “As I see it, Patrice has not an inkling of your affections, and it’s no wonder. You, Charles, are merry-andrew.”
“A what?” Charlie asks.
“Everything plays a farce to you. Women respond to sincerity. No one wants to be romanced by a buffoon.”
Ouch! But he’s right, women do respond to sincerity. Men do too, I think, so that’s a good lesson for both sexes. Neither sides’ goal should be to come across as a buffoon. But it’s more complicated than that, for women also respond to humor, a guy who can make a women laugh has an in, and no mistake. I’m guessing the humor becomes buffoonish if the men fail to have a point. Women actually talk a lot without a point. We just do. The reasons we talk and the reasons men talk are quite different, but let’s just say for now, that men usually have a point when they are talking, so if that’s missing or appears to be missing, a man can leave the wrong impression on a woman. In the movie, the wrong impression is that Charlie doesn’t really like Patrice in a romantic way. She doesn’t know he sincerely likes her, because he hasn’t told her that, not directly, and not in his other words and actions.
Next, Charlie gets excited because he’s left the next step in the relationship between him and Patrice “in her court.” The ball is in her court. It’s her move, her play. Okay, on the surface this doesn’t seem so bad, right? It’s not wrong for women to make the moves in a relationship…necessarily. The trouble is that it very well may be wrong for the man to leave the responsibility of leading to the women. Leopold tells him, no, no, you want the ball in your court. You want to direct how this is going to go. That rang true at the time and still rings true today, for men are usually the pursuers. They woo the women. Women are really not so good at wooing, and, I think, would rather be wooed and won, no matter how much they protest to the contrary. Anyway, what a boost of confidence it is for Charlie that Leopold helps him learn how to court and pursue a women and he finds it working! Pretty awesome.
Two things from this: One, men say women can do the pursuing, but in reality that’s the surest way to lose a man. Deep down, men likely know this, it’s just not very politically correct to say these days. Two, women prefer the men to lead–unless they are buffoons–and again, this is just not very PC to say today.
Leopold’s view of the leadership responsibility men have in their relationships refreshing and a bit magical. His insistence on integrity is, too. Sometimes following the rules actually leads to happiness, and I think that Kate & Leopold showcases that to some degree. And, in true traditional fashion, Kate leaves her ultramodern world behind and goes to live with her man in Leopold’s world. Feminists may shudder, but she happy, really happy, and in love. She knows exactly how Leopold feels about her and what his intentions are because he’s told her and shown her. He is not afraid to show his figurative hand of cards to her. That takes a lot of guts and is also an act of leadership, of responsibility. Leopold has owned his feelings and used them to produce a positive, productive outcome, not only for himself, but also for the woman he loves.
Bonus: There is a third thing I took from the movie and that has to do with Stuart, Kate’s former boyfriend. Stuart, played by a wonderful Liev Schreiber, is funny and brilliant in his way, so it’s easy to see why she was attracted to him at one time. One wonders, however, why either keep the other in their lives. And they do because, well, it’s part of the plot, but also because the purpose of Stuart’s presence in her life has yet to be fulfilled. Stuart himself says it best: “Maybe the reason I was your guy is so that I could help you find your guy.”
Basically, the lesson is this: Don’t throw away people. A person may not be a certain “one” for you, but they may be in your life for a reason you can scarcely imagine. And it may be quite a good one in the end. Stuart is genuinely happy for both Kate and Leopold, and that speaks volumes for his character.
Next up: A review of Mouse, episode 19 is coming soon. Although 20 is out this week, I may not have time to write a review until next week. Currently also watching Extra-ordinary You, which I can’t recommend highly enough, and also Doom at Your Service, which stars Seo In Guk, enough said.