Degree Year


Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts




Jeffery Pence


Say Anything, Movie, Titanic, Love


I never realized how much movies influenced my life until I saw James Cameron's Titanic (1997) for the second time. It was early March 1998, I was studying in Prague and coping with a deteriorating relationship. Unannounced and against my wishes, my boyfriend of four years had traveled across Europe to convince me of "our" love. Once in Prague, he would not leave and neither one of us knew quite what to do given the situation. One night, I suggested we go see Titanic. I had already seen it with my friends in Prague and wanted to see it again despite my initial disappointment with the movie. As we watched, I cried from start to finish and held my boyfriend's hand. As we waited for the tram to take us home, however, I felt ripped off. The love depicted in Titanic, transcendental and everlasting, was a sham.

Real life was not what was depicted on the screen, and I felt lead on. I was looking at my boyfriend, whom I once thought I would spend the rest of my life with, but who had just violated all sense of boundaries and respect in our relationship. I always knew that films were not an actual depiction of reality, but I believed that the essence of a movie could be realized in real life. My reality in Prague completely contradicted the one on screen, which was the first time that I saw movie's depicted love as an illusion rather than as an ideal. As I grew more disillusioned, I realized that my definition of love itself was rooted in one of my favorite movies: Cameron Crowe's Say Anything ... (1989).

From watching Say Anything, I created a philosophy that was the basis for meaning in my life derived from love, honesty, and individuality as life's most important elements. It was not a philosophy as defined by the rationale of Plato or Sophocles because it was highly influenced by my experiences as a teenager and reinforced by a teenage-themed movie. As a teenager, things are not always rational, and all the emotional experiences of the time influenced by perceptions, and therefore, my philosophy of life. Philosophy, to me, is synonymous with ideals that I believe in and it enables me to define truth in my life. Truth, however, is not an objective reality, but one determined by my rational and emotional understanding of the experiences I encounter. I know that my philosophy and my concept of truth are extremely idealistic when applied to the world because they were borne out of a time when ideals were the basis for my struggle into adulthood. While experience has given me more perspective on life, idealism is still the foundation for what I believe in. An ideal is the only objective reference point in life to help understand the world around me and the world I live in.

Say Anything was my paradigm of love. I saw the relationship between the two main characters, Lloyd Dobler and Diane Court, as an ideal that I wanted to have in my life. I thought the relationship between Lloyd and Diane was different than the surrounding relationships of the movie and I, similarly, wanted to find something different than the divorced or arguing parents I saw around me. Especially as a teenager, defining myself as different from the adult world was a way to assert my independence and my individuality. With my experience in Prague, I felt like I had adopted a false belief system. I did not understand how a movie could have such an affect on my life. I realized that I saw my reality through a type of lens; my identity, my goals in life - all were extensions of my understanding of Say Anything. I did not know who I was anymore because I had made Say Anything a representation of my identity. I felt betrayed by my boyfriend because I truly believed he embodied everything I had felt and hoped for watching Say Anything. Now that our relationship was not following that ideal, I did not know how to let go of the failing relationship without letting go of the beliefs I constructed out of the movie that had guided my life. I had betrayed myself by building a belief system out of illusion, which ultimately failed.