God, I hate romantic comedies with a fiery passion. It’s a cliche, I know–look, the bitter, humorless feminist hates love and laughter–but they make my teeth itch. I don’t fault anyone else for enjoying them, if that’s their thing, but I can’t get over the repeated implication in every single movie that I’m supposed to identify with the inevitably vapid/obtuse/obsessed/otherwise undateable (yet gorgeous, under the ponytail and glasses) woman who will find love at last in the third act.
Christina H., over at Cracked, is with me, and her list of 6 Obnoxious Assumptions Hollywood Makes About Women hits some of my high points: We default to irrational anger on first meeting. We’ll turn on each other at the drop of a hat. We love us some shopping. But with such a wretched expanse of film stock already dead at the hands of such cinematic terrors–just Kate Hudson and Katherine Heigl have nearly 20 between them–there’s no reason to stop at six Obnoxious Assumptions.
7. If we’re happy in our careers, it’s only because we don’t know what we’re missing.
If a movie opens up with a woman on the job, whether she’s cleaning hotel rooms or running a company, you can bet she’s a social-lifeless workaholic who will soon be taught to love life through the introduction of a guy and/or kids. (If it’s a man on the job, he’ll generally just be driven, although he might be presented as a workaholic if he will later be saved by the intervention of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl.)
The Cracked piece mentions the Catherine Zeta-Jones movie No Reservations, which I loved because it was basically cooking porn–all bustling around and adding ingredients without measuring them and arranging things on plates. In the beginning, Kate is shown as this Gordon Ramsay-type head chef/badass who rules her kitchen with an iron fist (such that she’s been ordered into therapy by her boss), and she obviously knows and enjoys her stuff. She takes pride in the quality of her work, she talks and thinks about it all the time, she spends early-morning hours in markets tenderly fondling the vegetables–I don’t think I’ve ever been that happy at any job in my life. Then there’s the stuff with the kid and the guy, and montages and a bicycle built for three, and then the charming bistro and the happy ending.
But if you run it backwards, Kate ditches the distracting boyfriend, her apartment gets clean, her sister comes to pick up her kid, and she’s able to focus on the work she loves.
8. We’re suckers for public humiliation.
Women love it when you bring it all out in public. If you’ve screwed up with a woman and she won’t talk to you, the way to her heart is to corner her in a public place and pour your heart out in front of Jesus and all Manhattan. If she’s marrying someone else, crash the wedding. A woman will never feel pressured to accept a public proposal or a public apology simply because the surrounding crowd–who know nothing about you–think you’re swell and romantic. So grab that mic at the wedding reception and start pouring your drunken heart out. We’ll definitely pull you aside, just to keep you from further spoiling the event, thus giving you an opportunity to win us back. We certainly won’t turn red and walk out. Or turn red, yell obscenities at you, and then walk out.
(Exception: Lloyd Dobler, but that might be only because John Cusack is on my List.)
9. We’re just not that bright.
The one we’re meant to be with? That perfect match? Our soulmate? Has been right there all along, and we didn’t even see. (Made of Honor, Someone Like You, The Ugly Truth, etc. ad nauseam.) You’d think we’d be self-aware enough to see what’s right there in front of our faces, but no. Here’s a person we’ve always seen as a friend, waiting patiently–sometimes even giving us romantic advice–while we pursue one failed relationship after another, and we’ve never looked at him/her with anything but the most platonic eye. It can’t be because we’re just not that attracted to them. Or that they’ve had romantic feelings toward us forever and have never spoken up, apparently expecting us to just smell their devotion like an aftershave, be turned on by it, and make the first move. It’s because we’re not attentive, we’re not smart, we’re not observant, and we’re always too busy going after the assholes. Think of all the Nice Guys™ who could have been saved if we’d only recognized their perfection 35 minutes in while we were crying about that jerk from the office. Thanks, Hollywood.