I am 39, therefore I have fully formed my idea of what love is and should be a decade ago or so. To create this construct, I used:
- exclusively straight relationships
- …that I’ve seen in romantic comedies or Sex And The City…
- …and Bridget Jones books.
Most people would probably start by looking at their family. But seeing as my father was a serial cheater, criminal, alcoholic and left mom with a newborn when I was 14, even someone with IQ of a muffin would probably determine this is not the right path to follow. When I took a closer look at my family I realised all couples range from “dysfunctional” to “I don’t know ha”. There’s also this problem where everybody is straight and has children. The realisation that my family could not be counted on stung so deeply I had no choice but to turn to professionals – British and American film industries and Helen Fielding.
Bridget Jones appealed to me so much because she was just like me, except way, way worse. When I felt lonely, dumb, clumsy, unloved, fat, unattractive, you name it, I would go back to Bridget and read a few pages just to remind myself that she did all those ridiculous things and (spoiler alert in case you just got out of twenty-year coma) still gets a hot, smart and lovely boyfriend. It only took me ten years and two terrible movies to realise that Bridget, unlike me, is also fictional and it is entirely possible to write a character that combines intellect of a bar stool, character traits of a koala bear and looks of Renee Zellweger, then in the final ten minutes announce she’s a Mormon and marry her off to Chris Hemsworth, Idris Elba and Lasse Matberg all at once as long as there’s budget for all those. Then put her on a spaceship made of marshmallows and have Lady Gaga be her best friend and sing at the wedding. Because movies are not reality.
One day Chris and Lasse will start balding and their worlds will end. No. No. I am a bad, jealous person.
I bolded that last bit because we don’t learn it at school. Movies. Are. Not. Reality. If you analyse Love, Actually a bit you notice it’s got way too much stalking to make a normal person comfortable. It’s even got international stalking. Humiliation in front of a crowd. Using prime minister’s power to fire a girl just because he fancies her. Actually I just realised that this is exactly what reality looks like. Wrong example.
There are a few key points to rom-coms, and they go like that.
- Girl meets rich cancer patient, man in coma, businessman, writer, artist, poet, painter (she never meets a balding accountant with thick glasses, except for comedy purposes). We’ll call them Sarah and Sean.
- Sarah embarrasses herself in many ways, either physically because she’s clumsy as fuck or intellectually because she’s dumber than George W. Bush. She looks incredibly adorkable while doing that. Mind you, poor twit always has good intentions and the things that happen are accidental. It’s just that they happen all the freaking time, which makes you doubt Sean’s sanity. Why would anybody hang around that much bad luck? And it’s not like he doesn’t know because she does that right in front of him, his friends, family, business partners and everybody he knows, but that’s alright because he loves her just like she is.
- Sean basically seems to be doing not much at all, which is forgivable when one is a man in coma, but not so much when it’s a rich and successful businessman. Still, I suppose it wouldn’t be “romantic comedy” and more of a “vagina monologue” if the man was out of the picture (and motion picture) most of the time, and it would also remind housewives and gays in the audience about their crushing loneliness. So he might be on a world tour for successful Bonos turned Elon Musks and he will still hang around with the girl, ESPECIALLY when she just fell into a cake or accidentally poisoned everybody with a blue plastic-based soup. And remember, every single time Sean or Sarah embarrass themselves, they must be seen by members of public, and I’m not even including the audience in the movie theatre. This has greatly contributed to my paranoia and ensured I would never cook anything again.
I just realised I’ve been watching those non-ironically and my brain cells wept. I’ll quickly finish, then continue embarrassing myself, but I will look cute while doing that.
- CONFLICT!!! It usually involves one of the couple doing a thing that will make the other half think there is somebody else. Like using the word “honey” in a phone call when discussing your breakfast. But Sean DOESN’T KNOW it’s your breakfast. He thinks it’s your real partner Steve, who is just like Sean but richer/hotter/more famous/less accountant-y. This sometimes introduces a completely unexpected plot twist because sometimes this is where Sarah realises that Steve actually IS richer/hotter/brings her spiders instead of roses and she’s really a spider kind of girl. It sounds complicated but it’s simply a way to stick two weddings into last 10 minutes of a movie instead of just one, because Sarah happens to have an almost as good looking best friend and Sean sort of doesn’t mind as long as there are boobs.
- Happy end, after which they lived happily forever after, never gained weight, did not develop fondness for crystal meth or had an unwanted baby BECAUSE IT’S NOT LIFE, RAY. It’s called a movie. Those two are not the same thing.
Seriously? This should be taught at school. Instead of dissecting Shakespeare or Dickens, who were no doubt very nice people five hundred years ago (approx.) we should have popular culture awareness classes with topics such as:
– Romantic comedies are not biographies.
– Every trick in “how to get famous” book only works once per generation, so keep that sex tape from the Internet until people forget who Kardashians were (I am waiting for that day even though I don’t have my own sex tape) (Tim never gave it back, which worries me).
– Reality shows are not representative of reality, which is related to the fact they have a script.
– Brangelina’s relationship, with special attention paid to role of PR.
– It is, in fact, possible to fall in love even when you are not white, straight, young and good-looking, and not only as an exceptional case of “aw look old people can love too isn’t that cuuuute”.
I am aware that you can now go to university and major in this, but if you’ve seen uni students you know it’s too late for half of them already because they walk around holding hands like they don’t need to be supervised. And they haven’t majored in Brangelina yet. This spells disaster.
True love never looks like in romcoms. This is both good and bad. It’s bad, because in real life I do not have a lighting technician. Sometimes I get spinach between my teeth NOT for storyline purposes. I smell after doing sports. (I haven’t seen all romantic comedies, but I am pretty sure that when Sean bumps into Sarah at the gym she mostly doesn’t get all like “cripes you STINK, I’m going to talk to you later after you showered ‘k bye”.) I get diarrhea. I gain weight and the express purpose of that is not so that I can become a success at the end of the movie having lost all the weight. It’s not because I am bravely fighting anorexia either. It’s not a plot line like in Bridget Jones movies. It’s just because I like apple pie for no deep or funny reasons.
This fact alone would automatically move me to supporting actor in romcoms. There are no Hollywood movies in which normal looking, not rich and badly lit people fall in love unless one of them is about to go to war where he will lose his love handles, turn into a killing muscle machine wearing shockingly tight t-shirts, save the country (there’s really only one country in the movies so I don’t need to say which one) and come back to get a medal and discover his normal looking girlfriend waited for him faithfully but was a bit bored so became a supermodel. Approximately halfway through the movie both of them acquire lighting technicians.
But there are good sides to “real” love as well. First of all, you are allowed to gain weight. American scientists determined that a married couple gains approx. 6 kg a year simply because television exists and you don’t need to have a thumb workout on Tinder in order to have sex. It would be a very special sort of romantic comedy if Sarah spent six hours on a Wednesday evening eating crisps and cuddling with Sean binge-watching “The Building Brothers” and saying nothing whatsoever. The only good news for me is that 6 kg per year only applies to straight Americans. In Yurop the number is 2 kg per year for straight couples. Gay men never stop looking for dates, which is why we are all chiseled pieces of expensive marble, our age never quite exceeds 29 and we are only allowed to watch TV shows related to models and ballet dancing.
In real life if Sean sees you saying to a tattooed hunk “what you did with my nipples last night was so intense it still hurts” he either asks immediately “the fuck you talkin’ bout Sarah” and finds out she has new piercings, or does the other sane thing – never calls you anymore, gets drunk every night and tells all his friends “That Saaaraaah is such a bitch skank, she even slept with Steeeeve the piercer”. Neither of those scenarios works in movies, because one (asking like a normal human being) doesn’t take enough time and the other (never seeing you again like a normal human being) takes a bit too long.
My idea of how love works changed a bit since then, which does have to do with the fact romantic comedies went out of fashion, replaced by hordes of long-haired bearded men killing each other with swords while wearing not much really. I must admit that comparison between Travis Fimmel and Meg Ryan is not one where I have to think for a long time before making a choice. Therefore now I know real love involves taking care of your significant other after they had their arm chopped off, having blood in your hair and murdering everyone who has something you want. This has now been working for Husby and me for five years and the only problem is that our basement is really smelly by now and neighbours don’t say “good morning” to us anymore.