I recently read a brilliant blog where the writer lamented the amount of single women over thirty who were settling for guys they knew weren't right for them, in order to avoid dying childless and alone. She was justifiably angry that they did this on the advice of well meaning friends and family. Amen! My regular readers will tell you this is a gigantic bug bear of mine, and I fully intend to revisit her blog and leave her a message of my support. However, I think there is another culprit in the demise of the romantic standards of the women of our generation. This one has been working on us a hell of a lot longer, and is far more insidious. The Romantic Comedy.
Far from being light, harmless, heart-warming pieces of entertainment, these cinematic travesties were designed with one evil purpose in mind; to turn our good judgement to slop, thereby ensuring the propagation of an inferior genetic line. To put it simply, ROM-Com's get losers tail. Before all you Julia Roberts, Meg Ryan and Katherine Heigel fans start baying for my blood, remove your blinkers and see these stories for what they really are.
CINDERELLA. It may be a classic, but it would also make a great Law and Order S.V.U episode. While poor little Cindy is still grieving for her mother, her idiot father marries an abusive harridan on the rebound. Then Daddy goes and dies, condemning her to a life of slave labour. Once he's caressed the feet of a thousand or so other eligible maidens, the aging bachelor Prince Not-So-Charming comes along and marries her for her beauty, in the hopes that the royal family will finally churn out some kids that don't look like they were sired by Corgis.
PRETTY IN PINK. Andy is a cool, intelligent, arty chick who quite literally comes from the wrong side of the tracks. Blaine is a bored rich boy who hates his friends but is still utterly dependent on their approval. Somehow, these polar opposites find themselves mutually attracted, and make plans to attend the biggest night of the school social calendar together. Then our hero caves in to peer pressure and erases our indie princess from his rolladex. Plucky to the last, our girl rocks up to the dance solo, met at the door by her best friend Ducky who for some reason hasn't been a blip in her radar until now. Bland, sorry, Blaine cuts in just as the two of them are about to practice for their bridal waltz, telling her the whole debacle was her fault and following up with an I love you. Andy runs after him, with Ducky's blessing, and the two of them then engage in one of the most awkward screen kisses of all time. Flash forward to twenty five years later: Blaine is now CEO of a fortune five hundred company and is sleeping with his secretary, Andy has long since traded a promising career in fashion design for country club fundraisers and anti-depressant addiction, and Ducky is married to the cheer leader he hooked up with at the prom and is a proud father of six.
PRETTY WOMAN. Girl becomes a hooker to survive after being abandoned by a loser whom she travelled hundreds of miles to be with. Emotionally stunted billionaire playboy hires her to be at his beck and call for a week for three thousand dollars and a killer wardrobe. Playboy woos girl (if having back breaking sex on a piano can be considered wooing), falls for her, insults her, then defends her honour, only to strip her one remaining shred of dignity away by attempting to employ her as his beck and call girl on a full time basis. Girl is having none of it, declaring that she wants 'the fairytale.' Playboy proves his love for her by ignoring his fear of heights, she allows him to climb her fire escape, a metaphor if ever I've heard one, and is eternally smitten. The only people who gained anything from this pile of crap were the pimps on Hollywood Boulevard.
SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE. This is widely considered the most enchanting romance of all time, but consider how it would play out in real life. After waiting for hours at the top of the Empire State Building, you discover that your blind date has been arranged by a ten year old who is terrified that his insipid daddy will never find true love. Cute? Hardly. If I'd allowed my son to act as matchmaker at that age, the elevator doors would probably have opened to reveal a seven foot tall wrestler or an eighteen year old whose vocabulary didn't extend beyond 'Dude' and 'Wow.'
KNOCKED UP. A successful woman is impregnated by a stranger during a drunken one night stand. Over the course of nine months, the guy transforms from immature twit to loving, responsible father to be, becoming the man she didn't even know she wanted until now. Yeah, that's realistic.
The next time you're considering going out with a guy you can't see yourself waking up next to with a smile on your face, unless you chug down four or five Xanex, heed these words: life is not a movie. That drooling neanderthal you see before you is not going to turn into James Marsden once he puts a ring on your finger. Do yourself a favour and have a movie night with the girls instead; SAW twelve will be far less horrifying.