Hey 3.5 Readers.
I read this column, “The Dark Side of Rom-Coms” on the CNN website by Julia Lippman, a post-doctoral fellow in communication studies at the University of Michigan and thought it would make for a good discussion here.
Go read it. The gist is basically those romantic comedies might not be harmless as you think. A guy who stands outside a girl’s window holding a boom box in the air a la Say Anything is weird. A guy who hires a private investigator to track down his prom date thirteen years later a la Something About Mary is even weirder.
Though in the context of movies, we laugh and have fun, men might be taking cues to relentlessly pursue or even stalk women…that they might get it in their heads that their persistent advances on uninterested women aren’t bad behavior but rather, charming displays of romance a la Lloyd Dobler.
Hmmm. Well, here’s my first observation:
I am a man and I have zero interest in romantic comedies. Romantic comedies are made for, geared towards, and primarily marketed to women.
There’s Something About Mary isn’t really a good example. That’s more of a raunchy comedy that just happens to involve romance. I liked that one, but any other romantic comedy? No. No interest.
I’ve never seen a commercial that went like this…
He was a guy down on his luck. She was the girl who had it all. This summer, Hunky Guy and Hot Girl in Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah.
…and was like “OMG I MUST SEE THIS!” No. Never. I’ve never seen a rom-com on my own. Any time I’ve seen one involved seeing it because someone else wanted to see it.
Are there all different varieties of men? Yes. Are there some men who like romantic comedies? Sure.
But I don’t like them and while I don’t know if there’s been a study commissioned on this, I’d dare say the lion’s share of men aren’t spending their days thinking “Oh my God I want to see She’s My Gal or Love in the Time of Love or whatever dopey title the latest romantic schlock is called.
So in my opinion, don’t worry. Men aren’t going to become stalkers because of rom-coms because we’re too busy watching super hero movies.
Why? That leads us to my next observation:
As a man, I prefer action movies, super hero movies and so on.
Here is the plot of Avengers 2: Age of Ultron:
A billionaire in an iron suit, a Norse God, a scientist who turns into a green rage monster when he gets mad, an invincible WWII veteran, a Russian assassin and an expert arrow shooter join forces to stop an evil robot.
I loved it. I enjoyed it. And do you know why? Though it was sheer, utter fantastic nonsense, it was more believable than any rom com ever written.
Why? My next observation:
Love rarely works out as perfectly as it does in the movies.
It really, really doesn’t. Which leads to another observation:
Personally, I believe if there is any “risk” involved in rom-coms, it is that they encourage women to yearn for highly unlikely Hollywood generated scenarios that could never happen in real life, all the while ignoring what’s around them.
I’m just going by personal experience. Over the years, women have basically trained me to treat a first date like a job interview. What are the job interview rules?
- Don’t sneeze.
- Don’t burp.
- Don’t fart.
- Don’t scratch.
- Make a little eye contact but not too much. Don’t talk about anything controversial.
- Don’t say anything that resembles your thoughts, opinions, hopes and or dreams.
- Ask questions and provide a general sense of interest. However, not too much interest. Don’t inquire about anything deep or meaningful. Stick to the weather. “Nice weather we are having” will prove that you are alive and have a pulse but cannot be construed as being too intimate.
- Don’t be yourself at all. You are horrible. Wait to be yourself until you’re hired and then it is too much of a chore to replace you.
I mean that’s pretty much what dating has become now, thanks in large part to Hollywood convincing women through romantic movies that they should expect pure, unadulterated perfection out of men at all times or bust.
Men can follow all those rules and still be rejected when women jump to conclusions based on harmless stimuli:
MAN SCRATCHES HEAD.
WOMAN THINKS: He scratched his head sixty seven minutes into the date. That’s a deal breaker. I’ll be damned if I’m going to be saddled with a head scratcher!
MAN DROPS HIS KEYS.
WOMAN THINKS: He dropped his keys. Clearly has reflex issues. I’ll be picking up his keys until the end of time.
MAN SHOWS UP EARLY.
WOMAN THINKS: Must be obsessed with me. Clearly thought about me all day. Probably slept over in the restaurant parking lot all night and day just to be here five minutes early.
MAN SHOWS UP LATE
WOMAN THINKS: What a self-absorbed psychopath to make me wait five minutes.
You laugh! You laugh, but this is what men are facing now. Thanks to handsome, hunky men in romantic comedies who always say and do the right thing, we have to deal with women who aren’t happy unless we’re jacked up and all muscly, picking them up on our white horses with the wind blowing our luxurious hair and we never make a mistake or do anything wrong.
I mean, holy shit, if you’re an average man and you’ve got a wife that Hollywood has trained to think you should look and act like early 1990’s Hugh Grant, then good luck to you if you forget to rinse off your dish before you go to bed one night as she’s going to divorce you, take half your shit and go off in search of Mr. Romantic Comedy Man, who does not exist.
And if you have a pimple, or some minor bodily flaw? Jesus Christ, forget it. Just forget it. Wait for the scientific community to invent robot girlfriends because you’re never getting a human girlfriend when Hollywood is telling women to hold on because Bradley F$%King Cooper is going to swoop in and whisk them away any second.
BQB, this column is getting a little one sided. Surely there are movies that mess with men’s minds too.
There are. There are probably dudes who see hot actresses and expect that women who have jobs and commitments should look like they spend 24 hours a day working on their bodies the way actresses do. There are probably even dudes who like rom coms and expect a woman to be perfect like the rom com leading lady.
Anyway, those are my main observations. Lippman did end her column by pointing out that she isn’t in favor of banning rom coms or anything. And she does note, as I would point out too, that only an idiot would take love advice from a movie.
And if you take the rom com part of it out, the more debate worthy topic might be when does pursuit cross the line into stalking?
Everyone probably has a different idea on that. My general argument would be if you like someone and know your friend is a friend of that someone and said friend is throwing a party and you ask to come so you can chat up the person you’re interested in, that’s just an attempt at kindling amore.
But if you know none of those people and just followed a person you saw walking down the street to a party and you spent the whole night in a dark van waiting to catch a glimpse…yeah, you might be a stalker.
All joking aside, if you like someone, be cool, give it a respectful try, but once rebuffed, realize that there are other fish in the sea, so plant your hook elsewhere.