Romantic Comedies: My Love/Hate Relationship
It’s a Friday night, my friends and I have nothing to do. We’ve already exhausted the fun of dining out and watching TV reruns. Going to the movies costs $50 nowadays, so what in the world is there to do? Simple: watch a rom com.
In case you’ve been living under a rock and don’t know the term, “rom com” is a super cool abbreviation for romantic comedy: a light-hearted movie centering around a seemingly hopeless (but not really) girl looking for “the one.” They also will probably include a hilarious and less attractive best friend, the bustling streets of NYC, and an impeccably decorated apartment that you know they can’t really afford.
My friends and I always watch these movies (in sweat pants of course) mostly excited for the grand gesture the guy pulls at the end, proving to the girl that he really does love her. Usually it means that he sprints through an airport terminal, hoping he’ll make it in time before her plane takes off. Seriously, how many times can they reuse that stunt?
But as the credits roll and an upbeat Natasha Bedingfield song begins to play, my friends always moan the same thing: “why can’t that happen in real life!” I roll my eyes, pretending like I don’t actually hope for such a thing to happen to me. Though I daydream, I know that rom coms pose a (very minor) threat to the social development of teenage girls.
Rom coms are meant to be charming and deep, while also comical. Sometimes you can find the right mix in movies like “Sixteen Candles” or “Crazy, Stupid, Love.” Other times, they show an ugly, and sometimes unrealistic side of the dating world. Last year, two similar movies about the same ideal were released, “No Strings Attached” and “Friends with Benefits.” Many girls swooned over Ashton Kutcher and Justin Timberlake, but didn’t realize that they were being exposed to the idea of casual sex as a means for a relationship. In “Something Borrowed,” two long-time best friends fight over the same, dull, ho hum guy who does nothing but strut around the screen in fancy clothes, suggesting that the only “right guy” out there is one with an office on Wallstreet and a house in the Hamptons. These kinds of situations portrayed in rom coms can ultimately mess with a young teenager girl’s mind.
It’s also no presumption that teenager girls crowd the movie theaters whenever a romantic comedy is released (only a few months ago I saw “The Vow” in theaters, and not one person in that theater was older than 25) and overload their Netflix accounts with them, but how do they feel once the movie is over? I know I’ve felt a little down at times, wondering where my soulmate is and if he’ll ever run through the airport for me, and no doubt other girls do too; one of my friends has even sworn off rom coms for the unrealistic expectations they pose, but that’s not how you should feel.
So my solution, Hollywood? I suggest filling your movies with realistic characters and problems, and maybe change the setting once in awhile? Why not set the characters in, say, Denver? It can be just as cool as New York. Maybe.
Hopefully this month’s rom coms, like “The Lucky One” and “The Five Year Engagement,” will make such improvements and build just the right amount of expectations.
Now I know I’ve ripped on these movies for about five paragraphs, but don’t think I’m some pessimistic person who will end up as a crazy cat lady in 30 years. I really do believe rom coms mean no harm, and I usually enjoy them no matter what I think at the end. Maybe one day I’ll be that hopelessly in love person running through the airport… but a phone call always works too. #