I can do bad all by myself – just bad?

The Wayward Woman

I want to start by saying that I know this is just a movie. And I understand that for some reason, all movies need romance. Which I think is ridiculous, but not the fault of whoever made this movie. I heard once that one of the reasons a great film based on Ender’s Game hasn’t come out is that every time some company tried to get the rights they wanted to make Ender have some romantic involvement. The story takes place when Ender is 6 years old. Please, people, get real.

Anyway, this is not a criticism of this movie, which I enjoyed. I did.

But there are parts of this movie that really bug me. So, the good guy in the movie hugs the wayward woman when she finds out her mother is dead. She’s crying, distraught, he holds her a few moments. Then she goes upstairs and the bad boy pushes her away in his sleep without even noticing that she’s upset. So far, so good. I get where they are leading us.

The good guy...

Later, when she asks him why he held her “like that, “ like he cared about her, why was the answer supposed to be “because he’s falling in love with her”? Yes, I know he didn’t say that out loud, but that was the implied answer. Why couldn’t the answer be “he’s a decent human being with some empathy and so was able to be there for her in a moment of need”?

Because you know, even if I didn’t know you well, if I were next to you when you found out your mother died, and started crying – I’m pretty likely to hug you if you turn to me. Why is the message always that we get all that we need from our love interest? Or that people only do for you if they are interested in you?

What you need is to put down that drink...

When she’s in the bar, crying into her drink over the bad boy’s bad behavior, she says, “I need a man. A good one. One who cares about little kids.” Really?! That’s what she needs? Why? Yes, yes, I know it’s hard being a single mom (especially overnight) and it tends to be easier with help. I got that. But why does the storyline go there? Why can’t she discover strength in herself?

And finally, why, when she says that she wants to learn how to love, does he pull her into his arms and kiss her? Here she is, looking vulnerable, admitting that she doesn’t even love herself too much, asking for help from this “good man,” and his response is sexual? Blech. If they could have spent 30 seconds on a tender hug first, I think I’d have been ok with that scene, but it was just too…too, Ah yeah, now I’m gonna show you love, baby! Ick.


Maybe I’m hypersensitive to all of this because of my interest in community. Maybe it’s because the story that the American public is sold every day about fairy tale endings (see my recent post) is on my mind lately. Maybe it’s because I feel like part of my job every day is about people finding other people – not necessarily love interests – to help them out, to support them, to care about them.

Sing it!

And maybe it’s because of the way the rest of the movie is made. This movie pulls no punches as it makes clear to us values it counts as important. Family, religion, community are all front and center. He’s a bad boy first because he’s cheating on his wife. She hasn’t spoken to her mother in a long time. The church people help out the good guy in return for honest labor. I just wish they would have taken one more step and stood up for strong, independent women. 

Why can’t she do good all by herself, too?


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