Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Mellow Drama.

It's no secret; I'm no romantic.
So what's an even-headed gal to do when faced with a man who is?

As I've mentioned, I write for a celebrity website. It's required that I extensively review and research their history. At one point, my (male) coworker leaned over and said, "That is SUCH a good movie." Shocked (and somewhat repulsed), I responded, "ugh. I never saw it because I heard how completely awful it was!" He recoiled and said, "Are you kidding?!? That's the most romantic movie I've ever seen!" (This is not an uncommon conversation for me to have.) I chortled. Genuinely curious, I asked, "So...What made it so romantic?" He leaned back and considered for a moment, "I think," he mused, "it is the most in love I have ever seen any actor play." Doing my best (not by much) to avoid wrinkling my nose in mistrust, I asked, "So- what made their relationship so romantic?" He responded, "He was just so in love. It was amazing how much he loved this woman. He would have done anything for her. But he couldn't have her. And when he couldn't have her, he just loved her even more and that just made him want her even more than before."
"Uhhh..." I asked, "Didn't they just meet randomly and he couldn't 'have her' because they were both in other relationships, right? Wasn't that the storyline?"
He paused, "Well...Yes. But, see- that just made him realize how much he loved her!"
At this point I'm gagging on my own horrified bile. Is this typical of romantic male reasoning? Wanting what you can't have? O. Now that's original. And even more- true passion and real love in Hollywood requires separation from the one you're currently committed in order to pursue the new woman who's just outside the title of "complete and total stranger." (See: The Wedding Planner, Serendipity, Runaway Bride, The Notebook, insert random chick-flick here- trust me- the formula works.)

Just the night before a friend (male) mentioned he was watching "The Holiday."
"ugh." I said. "I hated- hated- that movie! They should've just developed the Jack Black/Kate Winslet side of the story. At least that was based on an actual connection. Cameron Diaz and Jude Law- how on earth is that supposed to be romantic? They were both desperate and lonely and bored and drunk. They have sex and from that one-night stand with someone they have no obligations to, they fabricate a complicated and volatile relationship out of nothing!"
He said, "Okay. So I guess we like different movies."

Ever since I dated the guy who'd get teary-eyed whenever we had to say goodnight by 3am (as if parting were such sweet sorrow), I've been put off and slightly suspicious about these crocodile tears. How realistic is it that men are this sentimental, and what qualifies a relationship as 'romantic'? Isn't that usually just a formality to getting it on? When a man is so attached, so soon- how do you know when it's real or manufactured as a means to an end? Am I the only one to hesitate at the idea of falling into romance right away, or is this a realistic prospect? Do men really fall that hard that fast and actually mean it? Or are we all just brainwashed and conditioned to believe that irrational and wildly rushed are the essentials for real romance? This concept frightens me, as I cannot help but wonder- if it happens that quickly this time with me, how quickly will you fall into someone else when you're no longer engulfed in the drama of something new?


Silvs said...

You are shameless. Have you ever read the Scarlet Pimpernel? I feel like that story is romance in its purest form. The plot is a little unusual as compared to today's standards, being that he is hopelessly devoted to his wife(!), but she has no idea that he leads this secret life of saving people from the French revolution and questions whether or not she is actually in love with him. It's pretty awesome.

As for the other stuff, isn't romance all about commitment and unrestrained devotion to another person? It has a lot to do with feeling utterly exposed and vulnerable, but completely safe because you know that in your heart of hearts that the other person would rather jump in front of a car for you than ever have to see you hurt or pained.

V.I.C.K.I. said...

So my husband, Doogie Howser, is quite romantic and he gets very mad that I am not. There are some instances where I am trying hard not to be sappy, but for the mostpart I just wasn't born with that gene. That said, being romantic is individual and can be encompassed on many different levels. How am I romantic? I clean the house and I make dinner. I make his lunch. I do little things. P.S. Cameron Diaz was such an overactor in The Holiday. What was with all the talking to herself junk?

Kat said...

With movies. . . . I'm a hopeless romantic.

When it comes to real life, I get nauseous at the slightest hint of an insincere bit of romanticism.

I don't think the two are mutually exclusive. I can allow myself to take a journey when I watch a movie. . . after all, it's entertainment, not real life! I can appreciate the art and enjoy the journey, while still recognizing the fact that the characters are total and complete idiots.

Romance does include that "ultimate sacrifice" bit. It's not the phony bologna stuff you talk about, but the realization that you love someone more than you love your own happiness and comfort.

I do think that even with all my "real life sensibility," should I ever fall in love, I would be able to tell the difference.

And, don't puke, but the Holiday is one of my all time favorite movies! ;-P

Saule Cogneur said...

Well put.

Romance is fine for me, but when people lay it on before any kind of real relationship has formed, I'm dubious. Ultimately, in the realm of love, I don't think men and women are all that different. Some like Serendipity some don't.

KEL said...

What's romantic? It's emotional, adventurous, and imaginative in a world of constantly changing circumstances. Using this critia, what's more romantic than the Rock of Love except for Rock of Love II?

Silvs said...

Kel...I love that comment. Love it.

Amy said...

I was reading an interesting book called "The Gift of Fear" and it described Hollywood's idea of romance as a recipe for a stalker... Boy meets girl, Boy falls for Girl, Boy endlessly pursues Girl, Girl falls for Boy. So, what isn't romantic about stalkers?

f*bomb. said...

The only thing that seperates a stalker from a really good boyfriend is that you like him back.
Ironically, when the boyfriend DOESN'T do those things, you're pissed.

And don't get me wrong- I loooove all that romance- the flowers, the music, poetry and holding hands- ALL OF IT...just not before I know it's all for real. And how can you sincerely do those things unless you really, truly know someone? Unfortunately, by the time most people get through the reality of the situation, they might not be intrested in working on the romance side of a relationship.

caroline said...

"the holiday" = barf city

KEL said...

Tried to find something considered "romantic" in my own writing. Can't find one walk on the beach or lovely dinner out not muddle up with oppressive internal dialogue and/or silliness to lighten the mood. I even consider making Machiavelli quotes sexy a high goal. Am I screwed up or just my characters? Or maybe it's Hollywood that's screwed up and I'm a perfectly adjusted person. Probably not.

Liz said...

First of all, I'm in love with the Scarlet Pimpernel. I could watch it over and over again. I don't want to analyze it too much, though. I'm afraid of chasing away the magic!

How anyone ever ends up with anyone else is a total mystery to me. I agree with f*bomb about the difference between a stalker and a really good boyfriend, however. If I ever tried to do something "romantic" or pursue a hapless young lad it always ended in a huge ball of flaming embarrassment. So when Darin showed up I had somewhat perfected the "I'm going to act like I don't care but try to keep an eye on you with my peripheral vision in the most nonchalant way possible cuz I think you're hotter than a solar flare but you'll run if I focus my two eyes on you." Miraculously Darin played the part of the stalker perfectly, making him the "really good boyfriend" previously mentioned because I was into him instead of wanting to call the police on him.

Romance may happen along the way, whatever romance really is, but mostly I think it is a cosmic mystery that you stumble into.

I might be wrong.