La La Land did not take the L in my book

Despite the unfortunate Steve Harvey mix up at the Oscars this weekend, La La Land did not take the L in my book. Aside from its incredible cinematography and original scores, this movie stands out to be because of its underlying themes within the plotline. After reading our destruction of Cinderella and seeing the “almost” Oscar-winning movie (ouch) “La La Land”, I compared the two based on their roles of women and concept of happily ever after.

The passage we read about Cinderella states-

“To win the Prince, to be saved, required being petty. All the women care about is this. Being petty is the ticket… being petty, getting to the ball, winning the Prince if the common ground among the women. ”

Mia, the young aspiring actress in La La Land, completely destroys this notion of pettiness and the mentality of women waiting around for a man. After many failed auditions, Mia finally lands an audition that could be her big break in her acting career. She is conflicted because this role would require her to move away from her boyfriend, Sebastian and devote herself wholeheartedly. Instead of choosing love, Mia listens to her heart to choose her acting career. Mia’s decision to put love on the back burner and pursue her dreams encompasses an evolving and women-empowered reality that shatters the sexist premise of Cinderella. Additionally, another powerful aspect of the movie’s plot was the fact Sebastian pushed Mia to take the role, even if that meant putting a pause on their personal future together. He loved her enough to want her hard work and dedication to pay off and be successful. THIS is a true example of the 21st-century prince charming we should be focusing on. The notion of a man role supporting the career and success of his significant other is symbolic of the progressively equal gender roles of our day and age.


Secondly, the traditional story of Cinderella is known for its cliche happily ever after. Cinderella finally wins the love of Prince Charming and enjoys a life of beautiful romance and royalty until the end of time. La La Land differs in the way that it ends with an unexpected turn of events which prevent the love of Mia and Sebastian to prosper. Mia ends up moving away to pursue her career and the two move on with their lives. Sebastian opens up the jazz club he has always dreamed of and Mia ends up marrying another man.  The two run into each other years later and reflect on the what their lives could have been if they had ended up together. Through the use of flashbacks, the audience is given a glimpse of the romance between the two that never was. Although there is a sense of sadness and maybe even regret in this ending, maybe we as the audience must accept that the movie never actually belonged to their romance. Maybe the purpose of the movie was not based on the success of their romance, but rather the diverging paths take in pursuit of their dreams. This unorthodox ending breaks the mold of the traditional happily ever afters and introduces the idea of endings based on individual achievements.


I enjoyed reading this article about the film’s unconventional ending.

-Sarah Holt

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7 Responses to La La Land did not take the L in my book

  1. mediaphiles says:

    Cool comparison Sarah! I agree, I think it is awesome that the film doesn’t have the ending where the girl wins the boy but I also don’t think it deserved Best Picture. Yes, as you stated there were some fantastic elements to the film but I am happy that Moonlight won.

    Katherine Naylor

  2. mediaphiles says:

    This is really interesting insight on the storytelling similarities between La La Land and Cinderella. I really never thought of it in that way, even though me seeing the film and that week in class were so close together. It’s great to see that you point out that Mia, and Sebastian for that matter, start to break away from that Cinderella and Prince Charming archetype by pursuing their dreams rather than chasing love.

    – Cal

  3. mediaphiles says:

    I really love the comparison to Cinderella. I haven’t seen La La Land yet, but from your description I completely agree. I didn’t realize that La La Land was so progressive in that way. It’s amazing how the movies up for Best Picture had such important social messages. Even though I’m happy Moonlight won, La La Land was still a powerful film. -Caitlin Herlihy

  4. I also was a little heartbroken when it was revealed that Moonlight won. I think they are both so fabulous in very different ways, so for me it was like comparing apples and oranges. This is an interesting comparison to Cinderella and I think that the sole reason it was so lovable is that it breaks the Cinderella “happy ever after” ending. I would happily watch it again.

    Kelly FitzGerald

  5. mediaphiles says:

    I think La La Land should’ve taken home the Oscar. I think the production design, score, and acting were the best of any film this year or in recent years. This comparison to the Cinderella story is really interesting. I think La La Land was unfairly labeled as a typical Hollywood film about Hollywood, but it is so much more. At least it won several Oscars in other categories.

    -Walker Rise

  6. mediaphiles says:

    I’ll have to admit, I have not seen this film just yet. All of the reviews that I have heard about the film have been positive. I may have to take the time out of one my days of spring break and watch it. I’m excited to see what all the hype is about.

    – John Armstrong

  7. mediaphiles says:

    I love your analysis of the film. I really believe that this film is about personal achievement and intertwining paths. Both characters meet each other, push each other to succeed, but are not necessary to succeed their goals. For me, I think a large takeaway is that another person isn’t what you need to be happy, but you can find happiness along the path of success. It’s not about who you’re with, it’s about the people you meet along the way.

    Russell Lawrence

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