Saturday, May 19, 2007

Bella DePaulo's "Singled Out"

Bella DePaulo is the author of Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After.

Here's how she responded when I asked her about the casting for a film adaptation of her non-fiction book:
When Geena Davis accepted the Golden Globe for her role as Commander in Chief, she told a touching story about the little girl who looked up at her and said that she, too, wants to be president when she grows up. As some in the crowd started aw-ing at the cuteness of it all, Davis admitted that the tender tale had never really happened. She was just mocking the kinds of sappy stories people tell at awards shows.

Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After is my book that takes aim at all the sentimentalized myths about marriage and coupling, and the scare stories about staying single, that are perpetuated ad nauseam in contemporary American society. You know the ones: Marry, and you will never be lonely again. Stay single, and your life will be miserable and tragic until you die alone in your tiny apartment, where someone finally discovers you weeks later, eaten by your cats. Singled Out says: Those things don’t really happen.

So who should play leading roles? First dibs should go to people who can talk the talk. Take Janeane Garofalo, for example, who said of her passions, “Paying attention to news, paying attention to politics, those things are important to me as I’ve gotten older. What isn’t important is how fat I am and my face is falling, that I don’t have a man in my life, those things magazines waste a lot of time on.”

Someone who could play the role of a person who is single in later life is Lauren Bacall. In 2004, a Newsweek reporter asked her: “You’re 80. You look fabulous. You seeing anyone?” Bacall answered, “Well, I’m talking to you and I’m looking out the window and I’m waiting for my dog to come back from her walk. She’s the one I see the most of and I’m very happy with that.”

Singled Out, the movie, would have attitude. It would be filled with lines like one of my favorites from Mona Lisa Smile. When Julia Roberts arrived at the place where she would be staying with the other female college professors, the rules of the house were explained to her: no male visitors, no hotplates, etc. Roberts moaned that she wasn’t sure she could make it through an entire year without a hotplate.

Do you have examples of clever, original, singles-triumphant replacements for the usual mawkish Hollywood endings in which the unlikely couple overcomes two hours of obstacles and weds in the end? If so, please send them my way! We need a fresh infusion of creativity to keep up with the many imaginative ways that people really are living their lives.
Read about some of the highlights from Singled Out and a Q & A with the author.

Visit Bella DePaulo's website.

The Page 69 Test: Singled Out.

--Marshal Zeringue