Movie Grumping

So we watched a rented movie the other night. I'm not going to review the movie or anything, but something about the movie made me cringe. Tell me if you've seen this movie: boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, girl discovers evidence the boy betrayed her, girl tells boy in no uncertain terms to leave her alone (don't talk to her again, don't come to her workplace, etc.), boy realizes girl just needs more facts and ignores her direction in order to show his true feelings (by argument or charitable work or playing a boombox at her window or whatever), girl melts and they live happily ever after. You've seen that movie?

It's a common story arc for romantic comedies, and I am worried about it. This sort of story line is the result of and a reinforcement of the American cultural belief that a) women don't always act with an understanding of the facts and b) women don't always mean what they say. I'm just an old curmudgeon, I realize, but I don't think it's good for our society that boys and men are being taught this sort of behavior through film. I am particularly disturbed by the second meme there: surely there is no need to reinforce a commonly held belief among men that 'no' doesn't always mean 'no.'

Or am I stretching it too far?

5 thoughtful messages from friendly readers:

Bowie Mike said...

Well, there is hunger and genocide in the world that you could focus on, but taking on romantic comedies is admirable as well :)

I have no problem with a romantic story that shows that sometimes good relationships can have rocky beginnings, but the devil is in the details. Since we're opening up here, I do think that our society as a whole has unrealistic views and expectations on romance and relationships, and that view had to come from someplace - perhaps movies and other media. There is too much emphasis on romance, wedding and ceremony, and not enough on relationship. But then again, the realities of relationships might not sell well at the box office.

Fellow Curmudgeon

AbbotOfUnreason said...

I agree with you, of course. I wouldn't want to say that movies cause these attitudes, but I think that movies/media feed into the attitudes, which become more widespread and so the movies/media do more, and so on in a vicious circle.

Jodie said...

Nice analysis - that's certainly an angle of 'why romantic comdeies are fun tp pick apart' that I've never examined before.

I agree with your first point (women and facts) because many men in rom coms seem to believe that the only reason their romance experiences rockiness is because the women just can not see the true situation clearly. Otherwise it might be the mens fault or something.

The no means no argument - I think if you're a guy who is already looking for validation of the 'no doesn't always mean no' or already believe in it seeing a version of it in movies might give you what you need. However I don't think it's going to tip guys who know no means no into the other camp.

AbbotOfUnreason said...

@Jodie, thanks for stopping by. I don't think a movie is going to tip anybody one way or another, but I do think it's a symptom and reinforcement.

i, squub said...

unhelpful comment to old post - the boombox-over-the-head came not as a result of a break-up caused by boy-behaving-badly, if I recall correctly.

In more direct response, it seems to me that these movies are really reflecting a truth, not making something up that might influence reality. From my (admittedly limited) experience, there certainly exist some number of women who will say things like "get away from me and stay away from me" but change their mind about it later. Not that that's a good thing, but it certainly happens regularly around me.