Do rom-coms make us crazy?

Posted at 2:00 PM Apr 08, 2010

By Andrea Grimes

Last night, I settled in with a giant cheese plate and a glass of Franzia (Sunset Blush, natch) to watch some Insta-Netflix. Lucky for me--or so I thought--the Ryan Reynolds-Sandra Bullock rom-com The Proposal was available, and I settled in for what I hoped would be copious shots of Reynolds with his shirt off.

Sadly, the shirtless Reynolds shots were less than copious. But the crazy I was driven by this one single romantic comedy was extensive. At the end of the film, I found myself both bawling and feminist-furious: the movie's romantic logic made absolutely no sense, yet I was pissed off that this nonsensical bullshit romance was not present in my own life. Why was I, as a thinking feminist lady, so nutballed by this stupid, stupid film?

There seems to have been a lot of feminist rom-com pooh-poohing going on on the ladyt00bz of late, and so after watching The Proposal, I couldn't help but wonder: do rom-coms make us crazy?

Until last night, I hadn't watched a romantic comedy since the last time I was in a relationship. Some women find rom-coms soothing and hope-giving. I find them false and misleading. So my getting-over-someone process includes alcohol, cigarettes, casual sex and immersing myself in work and school. It does not involve ice cream and crying at stupid romantic comedies whilst painting the toenails of my girlfriends and using my cat as a tissue box. But last night, I felt confident in my singleladyhood and also wooed by the potential of seeing aforementioned Reynolds with his shirt off. The resulting rom-com watching was certainly ladyboner-inducing, but it was also the first time in a long time since I can remember that I felt bad about not having a boyfriend (who would fall in love with me 3 days after hating me and who would fly across the country and ask me to marry him so that I wouldn't be deported so we could date and probably have the babies and shit someday). I DON'T EVEN LIKE BABIES AND SHIT.

Is it coincidence, then, that I have not watched any romantic comedies and also been blissfully single for months? My real-world life positively reinforces the decisions I've made: I am happy with myself, my friends, my career. So, wherefore the ridiculous socio-cultural power of the not only fictional, but patently improbable, rom-com? How is the rom-com able to override all logical knowledge I have about the patriarchy, relationships, the general workings of the world, all to leave me sobbing at the same time I'm shaking my fist at the screen? Am I a bad feminist? Am I no feminist at all? Or am I simply a lady who, despite all her emotional prowess and strength, has been inculcated with particular cultural beliefs that cannot be overridden in a few short feminist-thinking years? And if I, with all of my supposed feminist knowledge, am still charmed by the ridiculously improbable romances of movies like this, what does this mean for those among us who take these films at face value?

I'm just saying, if someone wants to compile a YouTube video of just clips of Ryan Reynolds with his shirt off, that would save me a lot of emotional trouble of having to watch him in crappy sexist films.



Cynthia said:

Amen! I too was quite disappointed with "The Proposal" and irritated with myself for continuing to visit the theater to see such rom com ridiculousness. Thank goodness for YouTube, get your Ryan Reynolds shirtless fill here:

BorgQueen said:

Putting aside the feminism issue of rom-coms, how they create unrealistic expectations of relationships and the false notion of a princess being "rescued" and living happily ever after that girls/women have been force-fed for too many generations, presenting women as needy and insecure and only validated when they are with a man (do they even have lesbian rom-coms?) *deep breath* the movies themselves just plain SUCK. Seriously, give me a sci-fi thriller, action shoot-em-up or intellectual indie any day over this drivel.

I am totally all over that Ryan Reynolds video though.

James Early said:

The problem with The Proposal is that it was lacking the crucial 30 minutes where the characters actually fall in love! An utter lack of chemistry between the two leads and and the contrivance of a last minute realization: "Hey! we're in love!" made this into a typically pointless cinema exercise. A bad movie will always leave you feeling empty.

RachelB said:

Rom-coms? Hate them. Not enough 'splosions.

More importantly, why is it that women are never considered fulfilled unless they have a man? It's okay to be single. Single rocks! And yet we never, ever see a happy single woman portrayed in popular culture. Women aren't considered complete human beings unless we can be defined by our relationship to a man. That's why I always hated "Sex and the City." Those women all had fabulous careers that were always completely incidental to their man-troubles. They were never actually working! Pissed me off. That, and lack of 'splosions.

Paul said:

There are three rom-com's I've willingly gone to see. Two of which I own.

High Fidelity, because it is hilarious.
Stranger Than Fiction, because it was a neat concept.

And I willingly went to see The Lake House, because it had time travel in it.

SJ said:

I agree with RachelB romcoms are so booooring! The only ones I've ever liked were the old school kind that Katherine Hepburn was in, they actually had adults act like adults and they were funny.

And word to being single, Sex and the city was crap. Who needs a bunch of so-called successful women looking for Mr right- again dull.

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