The ones where a cutesy, oddball heroine (I wont say actress, coz to call it 'acting' wud be a bit of a stretch) after overcoming several comedic-themed obstacles ends up with her perfect man, bidding goodbye to singledom forever, knocking on the doors of her very own happily-ever-after.
I think now they've started to call 'em 'chick-flicks' coz obviously what self-respecting, virile, masculine 'man' wud want to watch them anyway, and what post-feminism, evolved, confident, assertive 'woman' wud either. These movies must necessarily be for airheaded foolish romantic 'chicks'. Obviously, right?
Piyu, Mits and I have been watching these movies year after year on Star Movies, HBO, in movie theatres, on laptops, separately when we're miles away and on dvd players for our sleepovers when we happen to be in the place at the same time.
There must be dozens we've seen and discussed. Pretty Woman, Notting Hill, My Best Friend's Wedding, Runaway Bride, America's Sweethearts, the whole Julia Roberts romcom repertoire. 27 Dresses, What Happens in Vegas, The Women, Love, Actually (which I've seen like five times), Just Like Heaven, Jerry Maguire (okay, this one only barely qualifies), The Other Sister, In Your Shoes, Definitely, Maybe, 13 Going on 30, Mona Lisa Smile, Maid in Manhattan, He's Just Not That Into You, A Lot Like Love, The Truth About Cats and Dogs, When Harry Met Sally, Princess Diaries, Enchanted. And I'm pretty sure there were more that I cant really remember right now.
But it never really occurred to me to think about what men think about romantic love, if they're really equally delusional, and enjoy this delusion just like we do. Atleast for the two hours that it takes for the movie to pan out.
That was until I saw (500) Days of Summer today. I could not connect with the movie for more than ten minutes at a time, and by the end of it, I just could not bring myself to care about either character. I was surprised to that I actually disliked it so much, when a lot of my guy friends claimed to have really, really liked it. Finally, a sensible romantic movie, they raved.
I thought the movie was adequately glossy, deliberately quirky, and pseudo-realistic. But what struck me was the extremely insincere, vapid character that the glorious Zooey Deschanel played. The woman has strange mood swings, she's intense but depressive with a fear of commitment and she unceremoniously dumps poor quirky lil Joseph Gordon Levitt's character simply coz she doesnt think he's the one and she doesnt think its working. He is supremely heartbroken and mopes around thinking of all the great times they had together, till he realises that she's just a heartless bitch who turned around and married some other guy.
Until the very end, the woman remains a pretty toy with unreadable intentions and absolutely no ambition. I was horrified that my friends had related to this movie and enjoyed it so much.
I finally got what it was like to be the guy for once. To be straitjacketed into the roles of Mr. Right, the One, the Perfect Guy. Or alternatively, the Jerk, the Oversexed Guy who cant seen your Inner Beauty, the Jock, the Sensitive Guy, the Metrosexual, the Power-Hungry Boss, the Effeminate Guy and so on.
Women complain about being stereotyped all the time. Well, we do the same to the guys, dont we? Do women care less about good looks in their partner than men do? Are men really more shallow than women are? I dunno, I think only fools make such generalisations. Gender politics is way too complex for me to decode anyway.
But then I also watch 'guy films'. The superhero movies, the espionage thriller, the mindless action flicks. And strangely, even serious Oscar dramas like There Will Be Blood and Gangs of New York, The Hurt Locker or The Departed. Women barely make an appearance, they hardly even register their presence when they do. If you look at these movie's and their version of reality, a man's world wud appear to revolve around himself and other men and gadgets and war and cars and saving the world. Men talk about women a lot lot less than women about men in the movies. Which strikes me as strange. Coz I really dont think we cud be that different really. We are essentially the same species, right?
Piyu once wisely said to me, "A chick flick is so much fun! But the end ruins everything. The ending is always too unreal! A guy like that wud never pick a girl like her. The Prince wudnt even look at Cinderella if she werent so beautiful. Fiona marries Shrek, but wud Fion ever love Shreka? What if the ugly duckling turned into a plain old goose instead of a lovely swan?"
For all their failings, these movies are very entertaining. And I think that is precisely coz they have unreal endings. We want a fairy tale to assure us, that somewhere out there is someone who will love us for what we are, without asking for compromises. I cant believe I've written such a pointless post today, but what really got me thinking was my conversation with Mits and her obsession with Ally McBeal.
Mits has got to be one of the most rational, logical people I know. A thoroughly modern thinker, and my music buddy and paradoxically, a true romantic. She also balked at (500) Days of Summer like I did and said something very very interesting.
She said, "I dont think I'll ever fall in love with a guy coz of how he looks, or what perfume he wears, or how much money he has, or even what books he likes, or what movies he watches or what musical instrument he plays. I think I'll only fall in love with someone who's been a true friend to me, who's stuck with me and helped me and who really knows me and can take all my shit. Coz that is really what love is. The rest is just infatuation."
She messaged me an Ally McBeal quote to put on my blog when I told her I was writing this post. So here it is,
"I've spent my entire life loving my perfect man. Somebody I've never met. I have a rough idea of what he looks like. I have a more specific take on what he thinks and what he feels. But I have an almost exact sense of how he makes me feel. I may never meet him. I've actually been told he's not even out there. The men or women in our dreams live in our dreams. And in the real world, the best we can do is settle for someone who comes close. Becoz it is the reasonable thing to do."