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A Girl and Her Movies

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It has been a long day and the first thing I want to do to relax is watch a movie. But, the question is what movie? While examining my choices, I realize that I have a tendency towards romantic comedies. They are cute, funny, and romantic. They are the perfect go-to movie for me. They are also the movies that I wish I did not love so much.

Romantic comedies, or rom-coms, seem harmless. Typically they do not involve a lot of violence or obscene language. The occasional sex scene may pop up, but other than that they do not pose a threat. Or, do they?

A typical rom-com features a normal woman, probably shy, who through a series of humorous, and sometimes embarrassing, moments ends up with the perfect guy. What is the harm in that? While it may not create a need to shoot down people, these movies could pose as a problem for young women. Hollywood has created an ideal relationship, one that does not focus on the reality of relationships.

Like so many other women, young and old, I want that funny, romantic story. I want the guy from the movie. I want to randomly meet a guy through email like in 1998’s You’ve Got Mail. Or, I want to have a Mr. Darcy fall in love with me like in 2001’s Bridget Jones’s Diary. But, how healthy is it to have those expectations? It is not healthy.

I have an idea built up in my head of what a relationship should be like. It should have some bumps, sure, but it should be fun and sweet. That is not how real relationships work out. A relationship requires so much more work and does not just happen in a span of a month or so.

And, sometimes the guy is not always going to be the perfect man. Just because a couple gets together does not mean that everyone is going to “live happily ever after.” Rarely do rom-coms show past the moment that the main characters love each other.

Rom-coms have the tendency to make women feel as if the perfect man will suddenly appear to sweep them off their feet. As if by having that relationship all their problems will be solved. Rom-coms, like most movies, are meant to be as a way to escape everyday life. They are not meant to be taken as way that the world truly works.

Recently movies that portray realistic relationships have begun to appear. Well, as realistic as anything in Hollywood can get. In 2009 the movie (500) Days of Summer introduced a movie where there is not a typical happy ending. I couldn’t help but wish for the characters to end up together, despite the line, “This is a story of boy meets girl, but you should know upfront, this is not a love story.”

I expected that line to be contradicted, and yet it wasn’t. The ending fit the movie and seemed more realistic than any other movie involving romance that I had seen. It was refreshing, and I wished that there were more movies out there like that.

I don’t think there’s a solution that Hollywood can create in order to help people see that their movies are not realistic. If they did that then no one would so see their movies. They have to fuel their audience to go and see the latest Kate Hudson movie where she meets the guy who just happens to be her soul mate. Movies like (500) Days of Summer would be a good way to draw in money, but rom-coms are not a force to be reckoned with.

The anti-romantic comedy (500) Days of Summer total income was $32,391,374. Katherine Heigl’s romantic comedy The Ugly Truth raked in $88,914,214. Both movies came out in July of 2009. In June of 2009, Sandra Bullock’s movie The Proposal had $163,958,031, beating both movies. The latter mentioned movies both fall in the typical romantic comedy. Yes, The Ugly Truth has some “guy” humor in it, but the movie is still considered a rom-com. In both movies the main girl is not lucky in love, but happens to be put in a situation with an attractive man. There will be a misunderstanding and the guy will lose the girl in some way. The movie will finish with the main characters coming together after they realize that they’re in love. These movies set up an unrealistic idea about falling in love.

If you were movie producer, which film would you feel safe backing up?
So, what is the best way to keep future girls from seeing romantic comedies as way of life? There are several things that parents can do. But, girls are also responsible for the way they view the world and the lessons that they take from romantic comedies.

Parents should talk to their children and explain that what goes on in a film does not mean that it will happen in real life. Parents should not crush their children’s hopes and turn them into anti-romantics, but they should address that love is not as simple and easy as it is portrayed in the movies.

Romantic comedies are typically aimed at girls, young and old. When watching rom-coms, girls should be careful not look at the movies as way of life, but as a means for entertainment. In order to keep from getting lost in the make believe view on love, girls should examine real life relationships in order to see how love in the real world works. This could be through their parents, other family members, or friends. Seeing that romance exists in true-life couples would help girls see that they can have “fairy tale” romance, but that it does not just happen magically or come without work. It is important to see romance in the day-to-day occurrences, instead of waiting for big, romantic gestures.

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About KJ

  • Wonderful article, you raise many interesting points and I love how you used examples from your own life to illustrate your points. Keep it up!

  • There are of course always going to be some slow folks, but I think most kids, and adults, know that what they see in the movies or on TV isn’t what they should expect in real life. They know that walking off into the sunset hand in hand with Mr/Ms Right following a series of hilarious misunderstandings, or jumping off a bridge and landing unscathed on the roof of a speeding truck, or running through a hail of bullets without being hit once, just isn’t the way the real world works.

    There are a few films that fit into the rom-com category that go against the grain. The Break-Up is one: it follows the main characters falling out of, rather than in love. The final scene, in which Vaughn’s and Aniston’s characters run into each other having “moved on”, is particularly nice, and realistic in its understated awkwardness.

    A couple of the many, many plots of Love, Actually are also unconventional: particularly the one in which Laura Linney’s character’s budding relationship with a handsome co-worker doesn’t go anywhere because of her overriding love for her sick brother; and the one in which a frumpy housewife (Emma Thompson) discovers her husband’s (Alan Rickman) infidelity, and they are not reconciled by the end of the movie.

    And this year’s Crazy, Stupid, Love, while it does follow the formula to some degree, centers on Steve Carell’s newly-divorced character lurching between trying to move on and trying to get his wife back, and not entirely succeeding in either endeavour.