Oh my! Doesn’t that just make your toes curl? Or rather, doesn’t that make your stomach flip, and – like me – your eyes to roll sarcastically? Okay…that was a lie. I LOVE Pride and Prejudice, but I do think that watching this movie as a love-struck teenager certainly built my expectations of love, intimacy and relationships, a little too high. These expectations only went through the roof after watching Swayze classics like Dirty Dancing and Ghost:
“I love you Molly.”
(Silent, beautiful crying) “…ditto.”
Stepping out into a world of hungry men, I was gob-smacked to find that not only were men my age (or older for that matter) not tall dark and handsome *, but they certainly don’t wear billowing white shirts which cling to their muscular chests when they gallantly dive in a pond (because they’re so complex?), nor do they shroud you with compliments and jaw-dropping, romantic words. And hello? Why don’t men keep chocolates and flowers on them at all times?
Because that’s a load of bollocks.
If anything, I’m still disappointed that men don’t tap dance and break out into song a la Gene Kelly (and Swayze), but that is clearly an unrealistic and ridiculous expectation. What I’m not particularly happy with is the awful amount of pressure men have on them, to do or say something romantic and heart-felt…spontaneously, during a sunset, while astride a white horse. The pressure must be immense for young men to woo a girl and say the “right” thing and to not step on any toes. Surely we’re not THAT pedantic? Well…
Since I can remember, every romantic movie I’ve ever watched has had the following conventions:
1) A couple who start out hating each other, but end up falling madly in love.
2) The girl must be neurotic, yet mysterious – oh, and look like a sexy librarian.
3) The guy must be resistant yet goofy, with just the right amount of stubble.
First of all: if you meet someone and you instantly don’t get along with them on first sight, chances are you’re not going to get along with them after that. There have been the odd exceptions, but ultimately why would you bother?
Secondly, women who are neurotic and shy aren’t mysterious at all, considering within the first five minutes of meeting them they’ll end up telling you intimate details of their life, and that’s not endearing but rather embarrassing as hell.
And thirdly: men who are stubborn yet goofy and playful are usually the types of guy to get stroppy if you dare to pay for your own movie ticket, all the while wearing a Pokémon t-shirt.
Sounding romantic yet? Just wait…
With the rise of skewed versions of modern love, men are now demanded to be ancient, irresistible, fucking vampires as well! Apparently it wasn’t cheesy enough in the 80s (or was it the 90s?) to have Tom Cruise stutter out his line, “You…complete…me…” nowadays the leading man has to have a transcendent, cosmic, and (gag) spiritual connection with the leading lady. Dear Twilight: thanks for fucking everything up. Not only does Twilight perpetuate unrealistic fantasies on young teens of love and relationships, but it says to young girls out there that if you so happen to find “the one” make sure you do all you can to change who you are, never see your family or friends again AND attempt suicide if he dumps you. Because that’s…love? All the while one of the main points of conflict in that god-awful series is the fact that he might bonk her to death. Wow that’s so…yeah.
I don’t see why women can’t be romantic as well. How un-feminist of me, right? Well no. Feminism was founded on striving for equality, so why can’t women be romantic too? There’s absolutely nothing wrong with doing something nice for someone you love, whether that’s baking cupcakes, buying flowers of giving a gobby – the whole point is in the giving.
So yes, Hollywood might have messed up my perceptions and expectations of love, but to be honest, I much prefer the reality to the fantasy.
ALSO – If you’re in the mood for a realistic romantic movie that’s very un-Hollywood, check out Weekend. Brilliant film.
*Boyfriend is the exception.