It’s Complicated: My unhealthy relationship with romantic comedies
So, I have been meaning to write this for a while now. The idea came to me on a rainy Saturday night after I got slightly drunk making risotto with some five dollar bottle of wine. Glass in hand I went to my room to watch Bridget Joan’s Diary, the DVD wouldn’t work on my lap top so I drank some more wine and started tapping away at the keyboard before giving up and falling asleep.
Now, I am very much sober and coming down from the triple espresso I made in my stove pot, which I use to trick myself into thinking I have sophisticated tastes. I sat there and thought to myself “Wow, it’s almost as if I am living in my “Act Three””
What are you talking about? You may ask. Okay, enough let’s actually start this article.
In my mind; romantic comedies, chick flicks, trashy romance novels are both the best and worst thing that have ever happened to me. For most of my life we have gone through many ups and downs. Some days, I feel that without them the world makes no sense. Other days they cloud my judgement and lead me to make terrible life decisions. Mostly, they are an opportunity for me to waste time.
On that note, let me take you on a journey of unrealistic expectations and self deprecation with just a few examples of how I have been sucked into the deceptive world of romantic comedy.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding
I remember watching this film at a sleepover with my friend and parents. I was probably about nine or ten years old.
(I may have been a bit too young for this movie, I remember asking my parents what a Virgin was and if it why Toula’s brother had to marry a Greek one. They just laughed and danced around the question…if anyone does know what a Virgin is, please let me know. No one has bothered to tell me yet. It’s been, like ten years.)
It was pretty relatable. She had glasses. I had glasses. She had brown hair. I had brown hair. Her family was a lot to take it. My family is a lot to take in.
This was my introduction to wish fulfilment. This film gave me hope. Hope that me, a ten year old girl with uncool glasses and limited no access to a razor (which made year 6 in an all girl’s school so. much. fun) could one day evolve into a beautiful swan who had a cool job at a travel agency where I get to wear an even cooler headset (It’s like a phone but NO HANDS) and in addition to that, meet a charming man who can rock a scarf like no one else who tries his best to fit in with my family of loud, hungry people.
The nostalgic value of this film makes it difficult for me to find reasons to hate it. Toula is intelligent. She’s sarcastic. She takes control over her life, goes to college becomes sassy independent lady and that’s what gives her confidence. She doesn’t have to be a “hot mess” or some “manic pixie dream girl” to be interesting. She inspired her younger brother to go out and enrol in art school. She wanted do something different. I dunno, I think that send a nice message. It’s also just a nice movie about what it means to be part of a family. She just so happens to come from a rather entertaining one. The engagement party scene is probably one of the most consistently funny scenes, I laugh every time. This is most likely due to the fact that it is reflective of most if not all family events I have ever been to.
Warm fuzzies aside, does she really have to stop wearing glasses to prove she’s got it goin’ on? I mean, really. Romantic Comedies seem to have this thing about women (and men, I’m thinking about you too, fellas) in glasses.
I don’t understand. Are glasses only reserved for the elderly? Is it some kind of technical thing, do the lenses reflect the lights from the set? If so, that means Hollywood has the same lighting set up as most of my school pictures and that is disappointing in itself. I mean it sexy not being able to see? Two attractive people groping the air around each other like Velma from Scooby Doo, is that what people want? I mean there is contacts but I don’t think people look attractive trying to put in contact lenses, the risk of having something poke me in the eye makes me nerv-…wait a second! But we’re not talking about clumsy porn stars here; we’re talking about romantic comedies! (That will just have to be another blog post for another day. Or if I decide to talk about the “Bridesmaids” . That sounds like a deleted scene from Bridesmaids.)
Magical Movie Makeovers are problematic. I get that on one hand that playing dress up can be fun and sometimes empowering (I know this because I try to buy my way into happiness and self fulfilment whenever I walk past any shop window with polka dots. I leave with my pockets as empty as my heart ) but I kind of resent the fact that is what we have as an audience to work out “Oh hey, someone’s got everything worked out. Look at those eyebrows, look out world!”. I spend $20 a month making sure my eyebrows don’t look like Grucho Marx’s and my life is still a fucking mess.
Bridget Jones’s Diary
Ah, yes. It wouldn’t be a blog post about the power of romantic comedies without our dear friend, Bridget. I think there are many who have watched this film at some point in their lives and muttered “Ohmygod that is SO ME“. She is everyone, which is what I love and hate about her.
She acts as this blank canvas where one can project themselves onto using one of the many hang ups people tend to hold against themselves. These “hang ups” usually come from all kind of horrible, nasty things like friends who go to the gym to take selfies of their abs and the all evil and all consuming creature called The Media. Be it, the possession of as Bridget puts it “wobbly bits” or lusting over unattainable love interests, Bridget Jones has made feeling sorry for yourself fun, flirty and fashionable and what I do (what we all do) after a few glasses of wine.
Dozens of girls on Tumblr, Buzzfeed and Twitter would have reblogged some gifset of Bridget eating whipped cream from a can with the caption “This” underneath thinking it makes them as interesting and as funny as the character herself. (Spoiler alert: We are all just as unfunny and unoriginal as each other!). Then again, that is SO something our Bridget would do, isn’t it? (It so is. I’d follow her on twitter). It causes because people like me tend to compartmentalise themselves into character types. You are no longer a human; you are a character. This lets us believe that our actions, no matter how irresponsible fuled by alcohol will result in us finding happiness because there is no such thing consequences. Consequences are for you boring friends in the real world. No, in the film that is your life, everything can be solved with some hilarious and impractical solution. There is no time to deal with with your problems head on, how boring. No, its all about getting drunk alone on your balcony singing the David Bowie and Beatles music. A large part of my coping mechanism for anything that goes wrong is that “I would laugh if I saw this in a movie”.
That being said, Bridget isn’t perfect which is actually a good thing. She isn’t that typically nice and sweet young and proper lady. She smokes, drinks and swears and she doesn’t have to apologise for it. She is living her messy, adult life as she wants to because, quite frankly no one really has their life together. Not even the popular kids from Middle School. (They are all as miserable as you). No one is that florist J-Lo played in whaterveritis (Unless you are a florist, then good for you. You have a really cool job. Reach for the stars ). People are poor, misguided creatures living in a chaotic, unforgiving world. Which is why we should love people just as they are. (If you have seen this film as many times as I have you know what’s coming)
Yes, this scene. That guy, Mark Darcy.
I think we can all safely say that Mark Darcy is flawless, even with all his hang ups. His uppity attitude, smugness and horrible taste in jumpers we still like him, very much, just as he is. Mark and Bridget aren’t perfect. They are two flawed people, who sometimes get on each other’s nerves but find a sense of companionship with each other. Because they…I don’t need to repeat that line again. What I’m saying is that Perfect people and perfect relationships are boring. Mark and Bridget just as bad as each other and we love them for it.
I feel like I should be saying something about Hugh Grant’s character, Daniel. I see his purpose, mostly to make Mark Darcy look like an even more perfect example of a human being and every film needs a villian. To be quite frank, I am surprised how there isn’t more sexual harassment cases filed in rom-com land. There are many bosses like Daniel Cleaver in many other movies, in fact they all are like Daniel Cleaver. What are the HR Departments even doing in these films? Probably all sleeping with each other because, as I said before in romantic comedies consequences do not exist so every one charms the pants off each other like sexy British snake charmers.
Already you can see how easily I fall for this. Many people so and it’s a problem for people everywhere, I would even go as far as saying it is a global issue. We all can’t have lives like Bridget. It would be chaotic, a world gone mad. Our politicians would make even worse speeches and the price of wine would triple due to scarcity caused by high demand, there would be no fountain that didn’t have people fighting in it. As much as we think we’d like having Colin Firth and Hugh Grant tell tell us that we’re all lovely in their adorable accents whilst they slap each other silly it would get a bit much after a while. If I’me being realistic, without “It’s Raining Men” playing in the background it would actually be really cringey and probably piss me off. So much awkward shoving and grunting.
So overall, much like the rest of my life. I can’t seem to make up my mind about romantic comedies. I do actually have a lot more to say but I feel that I am already pushing the limits to how long I can take up some one’s time on the internet. People place a lot of value on how much of their lives they are wasting on Facebook, so thank you if you make it this far. I really appreciate it.
Cathleen is your typical twenty-something. She spends most of her time on the internet in an attempt to fill the emptiness inside her with relatable quotes from people much funnier and more successful that her. Despite appearances she is relatively well adjusted. You can listen to her complain in real time on twitter!: @catsspace