Shawna Benson vs. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

This is a story about how I saw Scott Pilgrim vs. the World twice before it was released to theaters, and how I felt about the film each time.  This is also a story about the last year of my life.

WARNING – There are spoilers for the film “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” in this post.  If you don’t want to be spoiled, come back after you’ve seen it to read.  I’m sure there won’t be much else here to read for a few days anyway, as I travel back to L.A. from Illinois…

In April, I was lucky enough to get grabbed by one of those random chances on the street – outside the Arclight theater my sister and I were asked if we’d like to see a film far in advance of its release.  This happens often in this town, of course, but this time we were amazed it was a film we actually were excited to see.  That is how I saw Scott Pilgrim the first time.

It was probably 80-85% done.  A lot of the effects were there but not all, and certainly there hadn’t been a lot of the final touchups in place.  It was still a work in progress, even if it was mostly finished.  I enjoyed that viewing thoroughly.  It’s interesting because at that point in my life I was identifying with the character Scott Pilgrim.

Last warning about spoilers…

So in April I felt I was Scott Pilgrim.  I had, in the last year, broken up with someone I got along with very well, but wasn’t quite right for me in other ways and was lured to a relationship with someone else.  That second relationship seemed to be full of spark and life, and I felt, finally, like I had found the right person to be with.

No, I didn’t have to fight seven evil exes, but the relationship was short-lived, and I was dumped.  It hurt a lot.  I am still very fond of him, and I know he is a really good guy, but as with most things, it was not meant to be.  So, when Scott Pilgrim was screened in April, it made perfect sense that he wouldn’t get Ramona and would end up with the person who he was best suited for, Knives, the girl he dumped to pursue Ramona.

This didn’t mean I was compelled to restart the older of the two relationships – I felt I had damaged it beyond repair anyway, but it did give me some hope, that perhaps the “right one” was still out there for me.  I really liked this ending and left the theater completely satisfied by the experience.

The next four months were pretty brutal for me personally.  I still wasn’t coping well with the loss of that dynamic relationship, the one I thought would be THE ONE.  I started the year ready to tackle the world, and within two weeks, the world had tackled and pinned me to the ground.  From January to August I flailed, occasionally getting up off the mat and walking away from the fight, only to find myself drawn back to it and landing flat on my back once more.

It was while I was struggling to move on with my life and embrace the opportunities in front of me, that I saw Scott Pilgrim a second time, this time at Grauman’s Chinese Theater for the premiere.  Again I enjoyed the film, but I noticed a strange shift in my perspective as I watched the film.  Instead of identifying with Scott, I suddenly found myself identifying with Knives.  Scott seemed like an ass, using, then throwing away various girls until Ramona, who he pursued while still dating Knives.  And then he dumped Knives, which, though the right thing to do, felt incredibly harsh.  I had, after all, been a girl recently dumped and still hoped against hope that he, my version of Scott, would come back to me.  This change in perspective had me anticipating the ending all the more, as I knew Scott would go back to Knives and the two of them would end up at the arcade happily playing video games together once more.

But that isn’t what happened.

As the final reel of the film unspooled, I started to realize that it was not the ending I had seen before.  Confused, I watched as Knives gave her blessing to Scott for him to go after Ramona and try their relationship again.  No!  This wasn’t the right ending!  Knives was supposed to get Scott!  And I’m Knives, which means I get the guy!  And Ramona hasn’t shown an ounce of love for Scott, where Knives very clearly was infatuated.  This was messing up everything!

I left the theater, upset about the change, certain that stupid test audience notes were responsible for this egregious mangling of the story.  It tainted my experience of the premiere somewhat, though I still had enormous fun at the party, I couldn’t quite shake the nagging thought from my mind: Knives got screwed.

In the week or two following the film I felt even more determined to try to get back what I had lost in that relationship, so I pursued harder, and found that I was pushing him further away.  The realization was devastating and I suffered a complete meltdown.  It was probably what needed to happen.  I needed to not just be pinned to the mat but punched in the face to get the point – THIS ISN’T GOING TO HAPPEN.  My brain finally registered the reality.  Once I was told that my feelings were not reciprocated, and most likely wouldn’t be, there was no hope left.  Maybe I could finally move on.

The morning after that brutal yet honest assessment of things, I had a revelation.  I thought back to Scott Pilgrim vs. the World once more, pondering how this film could hold so much meaning for me.  I then realized that the new ending was the right one after all.  Knives was too young for Scott, and honestly deserved better than to be the afterthought girlfriend post-Ramona.  Scott did deserve a second chance with Ramona, without dealing with seven evil exes and Knives deserved to find someone who would treat her as the best thing in the world rather than a ‘good enough’ friend to pass time with.  Finally I was at peace with this ending, understanding that we don’t always get what we want (except Scott Pilgrim apparently).

It’s all very silly, I realize, but then, this is why we go to movies in the first place.  We watch them to be entertained, yes, but also to identify with characters, analyze the decisions they make and how those decisions would affect our own lives.  I will never blow up the Death Star, but like Luke Skywalker, I left my home to seek out a different sort of life than the one that stretched before me like the Tatooine desert.  We watch films to cheer us up, make us sad, provoke thought and shut off our brains.  The joy is in the discovery of what kind of film a new one will be for us, and whether we will return to it as a remedy in the future.  My sister and I watch “Sense and Sensibility” repeatedly, because it soothes us and brings us some comfort when we are feeling down about our lives.  We need only look to the Dashwood sisters to remind ourselves how much better positioned we are in our lives than they are in theirs, and that our futures are wide open to our own actions, and we are not limited in our options as the Dashwood women are based on the standards of the day.

So here I am, brushing myself off, rising steadily off the mat once more and walking away from this fight.  I’m not looking back anymore.  Sometimes it’s best to know when you are defeated and move on to the next challenge.  And the next challenge, while not a relationship, is something I will tackle with every ounce of my determination.

And someday I’ll find my own Scott Pilgrim, or Ramona, depending on the point of view.  Or maybe I won’t.  But that will be okay too.

Posted under analysis, randomness

This post was written by Shawna on August 12, 2010

Tags: , , , ,

4 Comments so far

  1. Eric Lytle August 23, 2010 5:39 pm

    I think maybe you mean the “past” year of my life because “last year of my life” means something else.

  2. Kenny August 24, 2010 9:57 am

    Wow, the original ending had Scott with Knives? One of the things I liked best about the movie vs. the books was the way Knives was made relevant in the climax, and how it paid off their relationship and ninja-skills. And when it looked like Scott was going to end up with her, even though it was changed from the books, I was surprised to find that it was working for me. Then Knives sent him after Ramona and it ended up like the books after all, and that was fine. But reading your post I started to question whether I would have liked it better with Knives at the end — in the movie it’s the better-developed relationship and she is so darn adorable. By the end of your post you had mostly convinced me that the current ending is okay, but now I’m left wondering if I would have preferred the other.

  3. Josh September 3, 2010 8:27 am

    Shawna —

    Isn’t it great (and horrible… and great) when we identify with a story so much?

    This is one of the best, most personal reviews of this film I’ve read. So thanks.

    Jul and I finally got to see this last weekend and found the back-and-forth ending with Knives and Ramona odd, so it’s interesting to see that they originally had him with Knives — makes that moment make SO much more sense now, though I think the mixed messages it sends means it would have been better left out.

  4. Jeff September 4, 2010 12:22 pm

    I absolutely enjoyed this film when I first screened it two weeks ago…

    …and now I think I absolutely enjoy it a whole lot more.

    Thanks for that wonderful and very personal review. And you’re right. THIS is exactly why we go to movies and, in some cases, try to write ’em.


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