“Summer Finn was such a bitch!”
This is a consensus among those who’ve watched the modern day classic ‘500 days of summer.’ The movie’s plot revolves around Tom, who falls madly in love with Summer. They spend a few happy days together and then she walks away from the relationship, leaving him devastated. On the surface level, Summer is the ice queen while Tom is the lovable romantic. The facts seem to convey that Summer was indeed, a terrible person. But think again, was she really in the wrong?
I for one do not agree. Summer does not necessarily become a ‘bitch’ just because she decided to call it quits with Tom. She took the decision because she was not in love with him. All that makes her is a flawed human being who was dealing with complex emotions. She had made it very clear that neither was she looking for a relationship nor did she believe in love. Tom had deluded himself into believing that Summer was ‘the one’ without taking into consideration her expectations and desires. Yet, she became the antagonist in the eyes of the viewers and Tom, the heartbroken victim.
Mainstream cinema, especially the rom-com genre has been portraying female characters in a rather clichéd manner. Their character arcs always follow the same graph; it starts with the woman looking for ‘the ideal man,’ she then meets a less than perfect man who makes her realize that love is not always to be found in perfection. However, in the end, the woman always ends up with the male protagonist. The movie industry is selling a flawed fairytale to its female viewers who are always made to believe that if a man is in love with you, you are bound to fall in love with him too. But, is that really how things work in real life?
In reality, women are not two-dimensional beings who are only looking for love. On the contrary, they are thinking and feeling beings with layered personalities and desires beyond a relationship. Contrary to popular belief, women aren’t always die-hard romantics. Summer wasn’t one, and neither are countless regular women. A close friend of mine recently walked out of a supposedly happy 13-year-old relationship because she wanted to explore who she was as an individual. However, she is still bombarded with advice from all quarters to go back to her ex. What people fail to understand is that she prioritized her individual needs instead of submitting to the idea of the clichéd ‘happily ever after’ which has been sold to us through countless movies.
It is often said that art imitates life. If the world that we live in is evolving, so should the movies. Had 500 Days Of Summer been made from Summer’s perspective, the viewers’ perspective would have been very different. We need cinema that teaches our girls that finding love is not the only goal of a woman’s life. She is allowed to have different priorities and desires. We need not antagonize characters such as Summer. Instead, we need to empathize with them, for their desires and expectations from life are as valid as those of Tom.