Sometimes, on the rare occasion that I have a night off and want to stay in and watch a film, I miss having a boyfriend. And then I remember, that when I had a boyfriend, I had to watch films like The Raid 2: an Indonesian export in which a record number of 180 murders take place over the course of two and a half hours. I was never allowed to watch any of the films I actually wanted to watch, such as Perfect Pitch 2, and probably spent about 1000+ hours of my life watching movies that I couldn't give a s**t about. That's when I remembered I'm glad that I don't have a boyfriend.
Nowadays, I only watch films with my sister, or other people who I trust to not make me sit in silence, whilst ignoring my questions about why this man feels the need to murder all these people, and what do you think his relationship was like with his father?
This weekend, my sister and I finally got the chance to re-watch Labyrinth, one of our all time favourite films, and the one that taught us simultaneously to stay away from and become totally obsessed with absolutely the wrong kind of men. We all know these men, because we've all fancied one: the beautiful, aggressive, emotionally abusive ones who wear eyeliner and heeled boots. And live in dark castles.
If you are not familiar with the film, it stars David Bowie as Jareth, the Goblin King, who steals 15-year-old Sarah's baby brother away when she carelessly wishes for it to happen because he won't stop crying. Jareth says she can only have him back if she completes the Labyrinth. Apparently, Jareth does this because he is in love with Sarah, and wants to grant her wishes: 'Everything I've done I've done for you.' And at the end, he begs her to stay with him in his Goblin castle. Thankfully, Sarah has far more sense than that. And far more sense than the rest of the world, judging by the amount of Labyrinth fan fiction present on the internet.
Here are some of the reasons why it's really good that Sarah doesn't stay with Jareth:
1) He literally doesn't care if she dies.
He sets a sharp goblin-powered metal machine after her in a tunnel, drugs her so she has dreams about dancing with him, and almost drops her in a bog which makes you smell forever: arguably worse than death for a teenage girl. I know what you're thinking.. SEXY right? How hot is it that he'd rather see her die than let her win. He's going to be fun to play Scrabble with.
2) He is extraordinarily emotionally manipulative
'I have turned the world upside down, and I have done it all for you!' You definitely didn't, Jareth: you did it because you wanted another little goblin for your goblin army. But he's saying he did it for her so she'll feel in his debt and then he can guilt trip her into having sex with him. If she did fall for it and stay in his castle, eventually it would be, "Why don't I get a blow job? I bought us those Goblin Rock tickets for your birthday". "Goblin Rock are your favourite band, Jareth! I'm not falling for that again!"
3) It's all on his terms
Sure, he'll be with her, but only if she comes to him. He'd be perfectly happy if she popped round, but he'd never go 10 stops on the tube to meet her. She'd have to go and live with him in his dark castle, with all his really weird friends. And he'd stay up with these weird goblin friends late playing video games until eventually he decided to go to bed at which point he'd expect her to be there. And if she got annoyed he'd be like, 'if you don't like it, you can leave'. And she wouldn't. Because no one leaves David Bowie.
Jareth is basically the worst person ever. So why, why, why, do I still really fancy him? As much as I know he's bad news, and would never let me watch the films I wanted to watch, I still sort of want him to trap me in his goblin castle and not let me talk to any other boys. It makes me angry, because I have still stupidly fancied people in my life who a) I'd always have to go to and would never come to me, b) probably didn't care if I died, and c) I allowed myself to be emotionally manipulated by because they were beautiful. And watching Labyrinth again has reminded that I don't ever, ever want to get stuck in someone's goblin castle ever again.
This is why the ending of the film is so brilliant, and we can all learn something from Sarah: 'you have no power over me', she says to Jareth. It is this that defeats him. The only way to beat these sorts of men, is to not like them. And really, the only way to do that is to not go there in the first place. Sarah very sensibly runs away from Jareth, and we know that because she did this, she will grow up to do great things, probably in the arts, and have loads of fun hanging out with awesome friends, and then one day meet a man who would never try to drop her in the bog of eternal stench. Amen to that.
"Now, Chloe" I said to my sister, putting the remote down. "What do you think Jareth's relationship was like with his father?"
Thank you David. You were a hero for so many, and you were my first love. And I will remember you now, especially every time I get the eye from a dangerous-looking young man in heeled boots. Before I run very fast in the opposite direction.
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