Trimble: Too many romantic comedies creates love skeptics

By Leah Trimble

“Dear John” is currently on the Starz On Demand free movie list. I’ve been meaning to… “Dear John” is currently on the Starz On Demand free movie list. I’ve been meaning to watch it because, well, two words: Channing Tatum. I am typically against these disgustingly overrated romance films, but, as a girl or even a gay man, how can you resist him? He’s an absurdly sexy, tall, former underwear model with dance skills. Need I say more? I suppose these all are very shallow statements. In this situation, I just can’t help myself.

Tatum isn’t even really a reputable actor: I wouldn’t say that “Step Up” — you can’t even count the sequel — or “She’s the Man” really deserve an Oscar. The truth of the matter is that, in these movies, he plays the typical American heartthrob who realizes his leading lady is “the one” after leaving her, and then has to run back just in the nick of time — almost every girl’s dream.

Despite Tatum’s allure, my roommate and I chose to forgo “Dear John” as an option now and in the future. Why would we watch two people have the most ideal relationship ever, and then watch it end with some sort of probable tragedy? Either you cry because he dies fighting overseas — the most logical prediction — or you want to give up on relationships because you realize a real life romantic experience is never that good. It’s a classic Catch-22, and we want no part of it.

In fact, I’ve missed out on a few trips to the Waterfront based on these assumptions. Case in point: “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” and “The Time Traveler’s Wife.” I’m not even considering all the movies that start off with friends that end up together, no examples needed. Just watch any romantic comedy. You’ll get my point.

I was resistant to believe it before, but the more I watch, the more I think it’s true — Hollywood has killed romance for any of us living off-screen in the real world. The obsession with perfection has gone out of control. It’s not enough that cinema emits seemingly flawless individuals, raising our beauty standards to immeasurable heights. No, they have to go and add human interaction into the mix. Even RTE News reports that “An Australian survey revealed half of the 1,000 people polled blame the gushy and unrealistic stories for destroying their personal romances. One in four said they felt as though they were expected to know what their partner was thinking while one in five claim the movies made their partners expect gifts regardless of an occasion.”

I think my first exposure to this distorted reality had to be “Titanic.” Who can forget the steamy, backseat sack session, not to mention him sketching her naked body? Oh, Leonardo DiCaprio, how you make the adolescent girls swoon. You’ve even moved up in the rankings lately, hand-picking partners from the world’s most gorgeous models. If only we all had that privilege.

Now that I think about it, even Disney had its role in damaging our early perceptions of love. Belle and the Beast had a happy ending.

The thing I find odd is that even though we see these romances as ideal, we don’t imitate them like we do with fashion trends or hair styles. Actually, we’ve never been further away from conforming our everyday lives to these depictions.

You don’t just see prostitutes marrying executives like in “Pretty Woman,” or men preparing notes and trips for their wives after they die as we see in “P.S. I Love You,” or a doctor leaving his fiancee for the woman he actually wants to be with, “Wedding Planner”-style. Sorry to single you out, guys, but it’s usually the men who make all the moves during these scenes. Sex therapist Dr. Gabrielle Morrissey agrees. He says that the gushy feeling women get from these movies makes them want their men to act “like the attractive yet caddish” types they see in these films. Then they are disappointed when their mates don’t reach this standard.

It doesn’t make sense to me as to why we even go as far as calling these screenplays cheesy or ridiculous. Obviously, some are really overbearing, but most are only just slightly tacky. It’s like we’re making fun of common decency between two people, like no one can care that much for another human being. It’s even like we’re trying to distance ourselves from intimate moments in the process. Then again, in a world where our thumbs have replaced our voices, and letters are e-mails that are the furthest thing from lovely, how can anyone expect some over-the-top expression of love? It’s kind of sad when you think about it.

As we move away from these Old World romantic notions and into the days ahead, I think it’s important we keep in mind some of the things that Hollywood hasn’t forgotten about. Hey, I’m not suggesting that a guy read poetry to me on the Cathedral lawn, but I think that opening the door for me or any other girl once in a while would be nice. Ladies should consider paying the bill on occasion, just to be fair. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to admit you’ve made a mistake and run after the person you left behind.

See, we can still appreciate the “perfect romance” without it being ideal or even barely realistic. What relationship is ideal, anyways?

E-mail Leah at [email protected].