The Perfect Romantic Comedy

August 1, 2011

I’m writing a romantic comedy.

I know, I know.  It’s going to be difficult.  After all, romantic comedies are the pinnacle of cinematic achievement.

Plus, the market is already saturated with such diverse gems as Friends with Benefits, No Strings Attached, Crazy Stupid Love, and Winnie the Pooh.

But I finally figured out how to write the perfect romantic comedy, with a formula so foolproof, it will blow away everything else in theaters…

The Perfect Romantic Comedy

You may be saying, “Why on earth do we need another romantic comedy?”  I admit, I was asking myself this question too.

Now, I can enjoy a romantic comedy as much as the next guy (if you count District 9 as a “Rom-Com.”)  But the fact is the last decent romantic comedy was It Happened One Night, which was the Best Picture of 1934.  In that movie, Clark Gable brazenly ignores Claudette Colbert, except to occasionally ridicule her (because that’s how men showed affection), until she could no longer resist his manly indifference to her and fell desperately in love with him.  If you have never watched it, you probably have very little comprehension of real human love.

In contrast, today’s romantically deprived women subsist on a thin gruel of haphazard movies and Cosmopolitan magazines.  But after painstaking research, I’ve cracked the code to the modern romantic comedy.  It’s deceptively simple, as it has only two indispensable elements:

The Perfect Man

The first key to a successful romantic comedy is to craft the “perfect” man.  This will be the hook that lures women to the theaters.  The perfect man is a piece of propaganda that does all things “perfect” men do, like dress metrosexually, talk about their feelings

constantly, and menstruate.  If there were any actual perfect men left on this earth, like Gregory Peck, he’d never be allowed on the set of a romantic comedy.

The Perfect Man either tricks women into thinking such men exist in real life, setting them on a never-ending quest of unhappiness, or it’s an escapist fantasy for a couple of hours.  Then women return home to their men, who wear Hawaiian shirts, never know what women are thinking, and rarely have perfectly scripted lines of romantic dialogue.

You probably knew that element already.  It’s the obvious one.  People have even called it “romantic pornography.”  The idea is that Rom-Coms distort womens’ views on how men should look and act.

But this next one may surprise you.

The Woman of Every Man’s Dreams

The female characters in the movies this summer are a new breed.

In two identical movies this summer, No Strings Attached and Friends With Benefits, the setup is pretty obvious.  A pair of platonic friends introduce sex into the relationship, without all the useless, archaic “emotion” that goes with it.

What’s the message?

That’s it’s okay for liberated, empowered women to have casual, emotionally detached sex.  Sure, it’ll make things messy, but it won’t hurt anyone.  News flash: women have been allowed to do that for quite some time, but I’ve never met a healthy woman who engaged in uncommitted, emotionless sexual relationships.

This new kind of female character actually sounds a lot like the “women” in the pornography that men watch.  Think about it.  A pornographic image is the perfect casual, emotionless hook-up.  It never says no.  It never needs flowers or dinner or romance.  It’s always waiting, eager and ready…immediately.  Ironically, pornography tricks men into fantasizing about an image that looks like a woman, but acts more like a man.  Creepy, huh?

So these “empowered,” “enlightened” female movie characters subtly tell young women that they don’t need emotional fulfillment or commitment.  Now that women are liberated from the doom of unwanted pregnancies, and the need for financial support, they don’t need men.  They really just need sex.  Yay, feminism!

Essentially, girls, it’s okay to act like a pornographic image.  If women buy that message, it should be a dream come true for a new generation of men who’ve been taught by their own pornography to objectify women.  So much for women’s liberation.

What do you think?  Have you seen any of the movies this summer?  What’d you think of them?  Are Rom-Coms harmless fun, or are they a little bit more sinister than they let on?

26 responses to The Perfect Romantic Comedy

  1. Hi Matt,

    At least the people in porno films are honest about what they are doing; The popular Rom-Com folks portray their behavior as typical for everyday people. In that subterfuge, the Rom-Coms are insidious.

    One odd message I see over and over in Rom-Com is that a male and female must hate eachother and bicker constantly at the start of a romance. Rude treatment, tension, and constant put-downs leads to true love–the more you dislike someone, the more you should marry them. Odd that.

    By the way, I think the most wholesome, wonderful romantic movie of all time is The Adams Family.

    John Cowart

  2. I guess I see it like this: If Hollywood is so good at relationships, then why so many divorces in Hollywood? If Hollywood knows so much about portraying culture, then how come whats-her-face in Pretty Woman wasn’t a toothless crack-whore?

    We don’t catch a lot of movies – kids and all. I do think feel it is sad that gender roles are so twisted. it is was the same in music, Boy George, Michael Jackson and I am sure there are some contemporary confused souls.

    And finally, the church has their own issues here. We want love and grace without accountability and discipline. :(

    Good job, Matt!

    http://www.fireandgrace.com

    • Because Hollywood isn’t interested in portraying culture. It creates culture that people pay money to consume!

      • I agree. But they claim that they are reflecting culture. This is particularly true of violence and profanity. I mean Clockwork Orange was a reflection of culture? LOL

      • You hit the nail on the head here. It doesn’t portray culture; it creates it. We pay them to tell us what to do. It’s a brilliant system, that. People stopped reading their Bibles, because it’s tiring and bossy, so Hollywood picked up on it. They know we still need to be told what to do, sheep that we are. They just make it sexy and hit all the right buttons, telling us we can do what we want, and then they charge us for it. Music, video games, all sorts of entertainment, really just telling us what to do and taking our money. People won’t pay 10% to their church because, “How dare they? All they want is my money!” What percentage of your money do you spend on entertainment, where they tell you what you want instead of what you need, and really all they’re after is your money? Stupid.

    • ” If Hollywood is so good at relationships, then why so many divorces in Hollywood? ”
      Good point. Also, Hollywood movies would have us believe that looks determine marital happiness, yet they divorce some of the best looking people on the planet.

  3. Rom-coms are insidious and sell their drivel by creating a world that never was, nor never should be. You obviously put a lot of thought into your scheme for producing the perfect romantic comedy. One allows his imagination to roam freely, though, in trying to ideate the conversation between two “lovers,” one of whom is a woman who is emotionally a man, and the other a man who is a woman?

    He: You don’t understand me. YOu don’t appreciate me. all you ever want is s-e-x.

    She: Whut’d I do?

  4. I haven’t seen any romantic comedies this year, unless you count “Jumping the Broom” (which is not just about “romance”, but also about in-laws who have never met and are wary of each other).
    I’m tired of the formula “she doesn’t belong with the guy she is with but someone else…”. Yes. New guy is exciting. Because he is NEW! In a couple of years, he’ll be the boring same old same old… Should she get ANOTHER new guy?
    I don’t hate romantic comedies, just some elements. I loved “An Affair to Remember”. I know. She left boring Richard Denning for exciting Cary Grant. Same formula I hated in “Letters from Juliet”. I’m inconsistent.

  5. Matt, You know you wrote this whole post just so you can use your term , “Rom-Com”…

    Now, I be you expect for Hollywood to catch that phrase and let it run like wild fire!!!! LOL…

    I hate those kinda of movies….I ‘ll pass…

  6. I have seen a couple of old Rom-Coms this summer that have caused me to ban all future Katherine Heigle movies. She has perfected the role of a successful career shrew looking for a man to soften her heart and make her less of a shrew. I hate that stereotype.

    There is another aspect in Rom-Coms that is usually present: the crude, rough, selfish “bad boy” is really hiding a sensitive, responsible side that will blossom when he meets the right woman. The reality is that crude, rough, selfish guys neglect and abuse their women and, if she has kids from another guy, will neglect or abuse her kids, maybe even kill them. They probably won’t even take care of their own kids, as I just read about a dad who got drunk on a road trip and had his eight year old son drive the truck with his four year old sister in the back while he slept. However, women fall for this type of guy all the time because they think they will be the one to unlock his sensitive, responsible side.

    Stupid Rom-Coms!

    • Love it! Successful career shrew w/ man who makes her less of a shrew.

    • And when she finally wises up, will perpetuate “all men are bums” myth. Sorry. It’s a leftover rant from a conversation I had this weekend. I’ll shaddup now.

      • @ Helen: Yes. I used to be one of those woman.

        Thankfully, God intervened and spent three years keeping me away from men while He healed me and taught me about how relationships between men and women SHOULD be and then introduced me to a godly man who became my husband. If the conversation involved a friend with this attitude, I will pray that she will have the same intervention :-) .

  7. Great post Matt. My wife and I have been lamenting the “message” in “Tangled.” It is aimed at the younger crowd of course, but it is their version of a romantic comedy. The imagery of giving up her “item” of value so easily and being encouraged to do so by her mother. Disastrous. I completely agree with your post. We live in South America and many of our friends here think that the US is exactly as they see it in movies. NOOOOOOOOOO! Horrible for us.

    BTW no pointing and laughing I have 2 daughters so that’s why I saw “Tangled.”

  8. Hey, if Gregory Peck were in a rom-com today, I would actually pay money to see that one in the theater.

    Rom-com’s today aren’t much better than they were in the 60′s. Have you seen Pillow Talk with Doris Day? Yeah…. different era, same story. But I admit, Rock Hudson and Doris Day? Love it. I’m only 31 by the way– but I could watch old movies on AMC all day long if I let myself.

    I think it’s an interesting point that porn tends to create idealized female characters who act like men, and rom-com’s have idealized male characters that act like women. Huh. We are a pretty messed up culture, eh?

  9. I think the best romantic comedy I’ve seen in the past few years was Penelope. It’s a fantasy, but I loved it. And much more believable than the ones in the theaters nowadays.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nBSItZ4T86I

  10. My wife and I stopped watching most Rom-Coms because of the over-sexualization. We did go with her grandmother to see Winnie the Pooh yesterday! It was rather fun! If someone feels nostalgic or just wants some good clean fun, Winnie the Pooh is great!

    We will probably never watch the vast majority of “Rom-Coms” to come out in recent history.

  11. I don’t watch a lot of romantic comedies, because I know they’re not realistic. Plus my husband hates them. His idea of a romantic movie is Braveheart, (which is alright in my book). As for Friends with Benefits and No Strings Attached, I think they are dangerous movies for teenagers to watch. People seem to think that as long as you’re protected physically then you’re okay to have sex with whomever, whenever you want. But there is no such thing as no emotional involvement in a sexual relationship, especially for the woman (or girl). I do have a favorite romantic comedy though. I love “P.S. I Love You.” The main characters are husband and wife, and the husband is dead for most of the movie. When I watch it, it reminds me how grateful I am to have such a wonderful husband (even if he isn’t “perfect” like the men portrayed in rom-com films) and how glad I am that he’s not dead. Haha.

  12. Creepy, you say? Creepy indeed. I’m with you, Matt.

  13. I’m a day behind on this one. Funny that I read it now, right after I read this article: http://healthland.time.com/2011/08/02/passionate-sex-torrid-romance/ It talks about men acting the exact opposite of your “perfect man”, but the result is the same. Women come away with unrealistic views of what will happen in relationships. I sure did. I used to read those “smut” books just so I could avoid thinking about my life as it was then. It never occurred to me what poison I was pouring into my head that would later kill off hopes of a realistic, healthy relationship. I used to like romantic comedies, but there are very few that I would see now, if any. I don’t like any of the messages. I can find other things in life to laugh at.

  14. Totally watched “It Happened One Night” last night with my flatmates on Google Videos.
    Loved it!! Thanks for the suggestion, we all giggled late into the night!