At the risk of outraging every feminist I know with this sweeping generalization… What is it with chicks and rom coms?
I count myself among these trash-watching women. In fact, the trashier the better. Former Disney stars, straight-to-DVD movies, terribly unimaginative plot lines? Bliss. I secretly relish those Friday night trips to the video store when my boyfriend is out with friends and I can unashamedly pluck any terrible flick from the shelves. Well, almost unashamedly. My lowest point would have to be when the male cashier at Blockbuster looked at me, looked down at the cover I’d covertly slipped him across the counter, then looked back up at me and said “Really? High School Musical 2?” But I digress.
It’s a strange love/hate relationship with these films. With their dreamy Gosling and Tatum leads, beautiful pre-war houses and even-death-cannot-kill-us love (literally, thank you Reese Witherspoon and Mark Ruffalo). I pass it off now as escapism, but watch them in a moment of impressionability at your peril. Because as sure as I’ll see a new Ryan meme this week, if you watch them while pre-menstrual or post-break-up they’ll either make you feel shit about your own life or delusionally optimistic about how it’s going to play out. As an adult, it’s usually the former. Discontent, served to you in a plastic case for seven dollars (or two for ten on weekends). But I recall being burned as a child, when I was naïve enough to believe that life would genuinely turn out that way.
(Image courtesy of butyourelikereallypretty.com)
I distinctly remember it, the morning after my first kiss. The memory of last night’s disco swirling through my head, starring some awkward, scruffy boy who I don’t think even knew my name ramming his tongue down my throat. Not only did I feel orally violated, but in a weird way, I felt loss. I felt like I’d been robbed of this enriching, heart-warming, coming of age moment that every movie ever told me I was going to experience. And it dawned on me that day that life was NOT going to turn out the way my third parent – the television – had told me it was going to. I had seen beyond the curtain. And I kid you not, I lied in bed that morning and cried. Not for the sub-par experience – though it was especially sub-par – but for the fact that my long-held expectations of how my life would unfold had been instantly shattered beyond repair. Okay, I was a sensitive kid. But it was greater than that one, sloppy moment. My rose coloured glasses had been clean swiped off my little adolescent face and were never to return.
Yet, as an adult, I still can’t help getting swept up in the idealism of these films. No longer as an insight into the future and rarely as a misguided yardstick for measuring my own life, but rather the opposite. Escapism, in its trashiest form. Because you know it’s exactly what your life ISN’T going to look like.
Just don’t, for the love of God, watch them while sobbing into a tub of Cookies and Cream.