Friday, July 24, 2009

"The Ugly Truth" About Romantic Comedies

I have always loved romantic comedies. Modern movies like "Sleepless in Seattle," "When Harry Met Sally," "You've Got Mail, "Love Actually" and classics like "The Philadelphia Story" are amongst my favorites.

The thing about those movies, and the reason I like them is because the women are smart, accomplished and not desperate to catch a man.

Something has happened in the romcom world though in the last few years, something has made me question my affinity for the genre.

Too many of these movies portray women as whiny, desperate and as jittery as a bunch of poodles. The single women I know (myself included) are none of these things.

I was about sent over the edge by "He's Just Not That Into You." The women were cloying and panicked at trying to get a man. Ginnifer Goodwin made me want to hit my head repeatedly until she stopped being such a weeny. She was attractive, adorable even, but somehow she was under the misapprehension that something was wrong with her because she didn't have a boyfriend.

I've written a novel that's a romantic comedy and my hope that while a little klutzy, my protagonist is neither desperate nor incapable of living a great life on her own.

It's amazing to me after reading about 15 reviews today of "The Ugly Truth" (which I had actually been thinking of seeing, but probably won't now) that reviewer after reviewer talked about how misogynistic it was. And it was written by three women! Why is it so hard for even women to write good roles for women? I've come up with a few rules that I'd like Hollywood to take note of, and hey, if any of them want to take a look at my book, I'd be happy to oblige.

1. No more showing women sitting by a phone, pacing by a phone, doing yoga while staring at a phone waiting for a man to call. We have lives of our own.

2. No more having women desperately dissecting conversations, body language and lack of said calls ad naseum with their equally delusional friends. See above for why.

3. Just because a woman is successful in her job doesn't mean she's. a. frigid b. socially inept c. pathetically lonely. Maybe she LIKES her job and is happy.

4. "You complete me" is a stupid notion and women need to get over it already. Compliment me? Sure, but stop making movies where women are sadly roaming the aisles of supermarkets looking for someone to make a pot roast for because unless they do they're lives are incomplete.

5. Start making movies again about people who are interesting in their own way, all on their own. Sally Albright in "Harry and Sally" was a journalist with lots of friends, as was Annie in "You've Got Mail." And well, no one would ever accuse Katharine Hepburn of being a wimpy woman who'd do anything to snag a guy in... well, any movie.

I want to love romantic comedies again. But I also don't want to feel like my gender is being denigrated and reduced to a ridiculous stereotype. I love love. I just want it to come in a package that doesn't insult my gender or my intelligence.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Icky Things And The Single Girl

Most of the time I am pretty happy being single. As a writer I can work until the wee hours and no one complains. I can read in bed with copious amounts of moisturizer on my feet and no one blanches in disdain, obviously not appreciating the beauty of a smooth instep. Well, the exception might be that creepy foot fetishist, Tanner from "The Bachelorette" who would be way too into it. In general it's a pretty happy life, but there are times a guy could come in handy.

Yesterday I came home from doing errands and as I pulled into my driveway I saw a squirrel lying across my driveway. I pulled into the garage and cautiously walked out, wanting to make sure he wasn't just laying there in wait, having planned the perfectly orchestrated take down of a human wanting to throw a big squirrel rave in my house. When I observed it wasn't an obvious threat I got closer and bent over to get a closer look. There were no obvious wounds, no blood, but it appeared to be dead. This was tough for me because oddly enough, I love squirrels, I think they're awfully cute.

"I so wish I had a husband to take care of this," I muttered to myself as I went to get a shovel. When I tried to scoop up the the poor thing (with a snow shovel no less) I thought I saw her head move and jumped back, startled. As I crouched down close to her, I saw she was still breathing. (I assumed it was a female having run herself ragged for her children)

I ran in and called Wildcare, a group that rescues animals. The volunteer gave me instructions on how to get her to them, but I was scared. I pictured getting this critter in a box, then into my car, and as I drove along it leaping on to my head a la Clark Griswald. As I stood there talking to to Lila at Wildcare, I noticed that the squirrel's eyes had closed. Closer examination showed she'd stopped breathing. I told Lila, and we hung up.

I put an umbrella next to her sheltering from the sun, hoping she'd somehow revive. Within just minutes though I could tell her body had stiffened.

Trading the scoopy snow shovel for a garden one, I buried her in my yard.

As I put away the shovel I thought back to the years when I had a husband to do those things, and then, when I was no longer married, having sons who took care of the creepy crawly stuff. Now that I have to handle all things icky and non by myself, I see that whether it's a dead squirrel, a hinky toaster or a really scary thunderstorm in the middle of the night I really am okay.

It's nice to know I can bury a squirrel, check the oil in my car and put the screens in the windows come summer, but as old fashioned as it may sound, sometimes it might be kind of nice to not have to.