I don't buy many films or DVDs to keep, but if I did one would be "Shallow Hal". Okay, I know it's a comedy, but it still has a message worth getting. If you've seen it, you know what I mean. Hal is just that - as deep as a rain puddle, is the way one character puts it. He wants to strike up relationships with glamorous women, purely because he thinks they look good so that is his definition of 'good' altogether. Then he is hypnotized and programmed to see the real worth of people. Whoever wrote this had a clever idea, and I offer them my compliments. When Hal sees the inner worth or true beauty of people, they appear to be attractive physically. So he meets and chats up a succession of women who look good to him, because they have likeable personalties and good hearts. The significant one is Rosemary, played by Gwyneth Paltrow - the proverbial glamorous blonde. But in real life, unseen to Hal, Rosemary is collossally overweight, which is shown by the way chairs collapse under her and the huge amount she eats. But she has a good heart, and so to the mentally re-geared Hal she looks beautiful. By contrast, a nurse he meets when Rosemary takes him to visit kids in a burns unit is a cold-hearted harridan, and a grasping gold-digger; and to Hal she looks like a grizzly witch, since that is her inner quality. In 'real life' that nurse is physically attractive, but the real her is ugly because she is a selfish unloving user. Hal sees that in her while hypnotized, and sees the beauty of several other women who deserve to be appreciated. For that matter when Rosemary introduces him to two friends who do overseas aid work, kind hearted and noble young men, they look handsome and poised, even though in physical appearance they are not. One is obese, the other has an unfortunate skin condition.
It's a brilliant idea, even though the film is comic. What would people look like if you saw their character in their appearance, instead of the superficial persona they cultivate.
But trouble is ahead. Hal has a pal who is still as shallow as ever. He rejects a girl because she has oddly shaped toes. Can you beat that?
When Hal's pal, who can't handle the new way Hal does things, gets the hypnotic trance lifted everything is confusion. Hal doesn't even recognize Rosemary, or several other people who he remembers as looking good. This leads to terrible hurt for Rosemary, although it comes out happily in the end. He meets up again with several people he does not know when he sees only their physical appearance. Finally he figures it out and takes up with Rosemary because what he saw in her as a person is still there even if her appearance is not what he thought. Lesson learned. So it's a romantic comedy, good for a laugh, but I call it a gem!
It's worth switching for a moment to William Butler Yeats, a literary poet. One of his poems is a prayer for his daughter. He says, let her be not SO beautiful that it goes to her head and she becomes selfish and conceited. Good point!
Obviously physical attraction exists for some purpose. God made it such that we are attracted to some and not others. But it should never be a person's value, whether or not they are glamorous to look at.
I recall a happy moment some years ago. A girl I taught is short and tubby with a bulgy face, and not what many people would call good looking. But she has a warm kind heart. The last time I saw her she had her usual kind smile - and a husband and child, which I know she wanted. Good one! Some days the world looks like an okay place after all!
It would be incredible to see what would happen if you could really undergo what was done to Hal, and see people without being influenced by their appearance. Come to that, I've had a friend who was blind, and he was married. He did not have to see his partner physically to appreciate her.