One recent reviewer of the movie “Passengers” wrote, “this wasn’t science fiction, it was a chick flick.” I’m sorry, but I think it was GREAT science fiction— in fact it was Science Fiction’s apology for the juvenile way that the genre has treated women for many years. Let me explain.
Webster’s dictionary defines chauvinism as “an attitude of superiority toward members of the opposite sex”— and today, Valentine’s day, is a good day as any to expose the chauvinistic attitude that any film which promotes a genuine love affair between a man and a woman is a “chick flick.” A man who says stuff like this would be offended if a woman called Saving Private Ryan “a guy thing.” Who in the world ever started this battle between the sexes? Maybe Valentine’s Day would be a good day to end it.
What do I mean? I mean that in either case— a “chick flick” or “a guy thing”— the suggestion is that members of the opposite sex get a peculiar pleasure out of certain things. Women like romance and men like action. That’s absurd. That’s like saying women like air and men like water.
The fact is that romance is an absolute essential for both sexes. And for a guy to mock romance shows how shallow a fellow he really is.
Why am I harping about this today, and in relationship to Passengers? Because Passengers is the perfect vehicle (pardon the pun) for understanding the subject of romance. Now that some of you have seen the film, I can say some things without spoiling the movie.
The young man is accidently woken up out of cryogenic hyper-sleep to discover he is still 80 years away from his destination. He is the only human being awake on a ship with 5000 other sleeping passengers and a sleeping crew of 200+. The prospect of spending his life alone without a companion is unbearable.
And yet he is faced with a choice. Should he awaken a sleeping girl? He agonizes for almost a year over the situation. He knows that if he does this, the girl will be trapped in the same situation. She will have to spend the remainder of her life awake on a ship that is a lifetime away from its intended destination. The destination world will be full of life and adventure and people— and the prospect of missing all that would haunt the girl as it is haunting the guy. Can he morally justify waking her up? Not really. But can he live by himself without a companion? Not really.
The film is only a type of what is really going on in all our lives. Good science fiction has a way of allowing us to contemplate extraordinary circumstances like this. We may not be sleepers on an interstellar spacecraft, but we have exactly the same extraordinary circumstances. What do I mean by extraordinary? All of our lives are really extraordinary, if only we will think about it.
Folks, we only have one life to live. And to live it alone without a companion is excruciating. But how to reach out in our need to someone else— and get the kind of response we are looking for? Why do you think our adolescent angst is so real? We reach out in hope— but we can be awfully hurt in the process. Why does young love so often wind up hurting so much? Because when we reach out with our hearts on our sleeves we are saying, “I need you— do you need me?”
The situation in the film shows the conflict graphically where we can see it. The same process is going on all the time here on earth. A man reaches out to use a girl and wakes her up to do it— that’s actually what is going on in our much-touted “sexual revolution”. The idea of a one-night stand or the sort of philandering so popular nowadays seems so innocent until you consider it in the broader framework.
What do I mean? For those of you who are not Christian, you’ve probably never been told that our destination is the “goldilocks planet” of Heaven, and that our current lifetime is only the journey, not the destination. And during the journey, certain conditions apply that will not be needed when we get there— but those conditions apply now, because of our very limited circumstances.
What do I mean by limited? We will not stay “forever young”, for instance. The journey will not always be fun and games. The “partner” that we “wake up” will sometimes irritate us and sometimes drive us crazy. The dilemma we all face, in such a journey, is “what if we wake up the wrong person and are stuck with them for life?”
That’s where romance comes in. The young man, Jim Preston (Chris Pratt), awakens the young lady, Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence), and while she believes her situation is an accident, she is able to cope, but when she discovers that Preston woke her up on purpose, she goes crazy.
You see how God has ordered reality? He has placed you here to face your life alone until you can muster the courage to reach out to another human being. And the resulting encounter can’t be orchestrated by drugs or parental manipulation or magic. It has to be begun by one person reaching out to another person in hope, but gently, without manipulation, without force— always giving the other person the right of rejection. Rejection is a God-given right. It’s part of what’s called free-will. We are given the right to reject, and the right to accept. And when you accept, that’s love. The reaching out part is romance. Preston can’t romance her awake, but he can bring her back by romance.
Forty-six years ago I reached out and woke up a sleeping girl. She’s now been my companion for most of my lifetime. I could not have made this trip alone. She has been the love of my life. And I certainly could not have made the trip if she had resented my approach. I think a bit of romance has helped us both.
I mean, after all, even Jim Preston found a way to win Aurora’s heart, under the most extraordinary circumstances.
What am I saying? Romance is the key. When a film features romance it’s easy for a guy to say “that’s a chick flick”— but without romance, fellas, the trip would be a nightmare. Start a bit of romance today— take her out to see a movie, make her want to spend a lifetime with you.