Romantic tragedy

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You might say that romantic comedies create a false sense of what a modern relationship ought to be like. In a sense this is absolutely true; no one ought to take their cues from these half-witted attempts at romance.

Or, you might say that romantic comedies are entirely accurate in describing some kinds of relationships, but only the insanely creepy ones and/or horribly dysfunctional ones.

Suppose, for instance, that it’s your wedding day. The flowers leave an ambrosial scent in the air and you are looking positively stellar in your custom-made dress. Now picture your ex-boyfriend, in malodorous day-old suit, fresh off the plane from across the country, bursting into the chapel with a pathetic bouquet of pansies, declaring his undying love for you, all while faintly giving off the air of having drunk a few too many on the plane and knocking over and old person or two on his way up the aisle.

Does this conjure feelings of deep appreciation in your heart? Really? I think repulsion and resentment would be the words of the hour were this to happen to you.

Another hypothetical. It’s three in the morning and you’re tired. You have work the next day and a paper due after that; but instead of resting in the whispy bliss of dreams, you find yourself awakened by the sickening sound of John Mayer intruding through the window. On your front lawn stands the cadaverous remains of your once-beloved ex (again, quite drunk) holding a Wal-Mart boom-box over their head and yelping like a lost hiker to the painful tunes of an admittedly attractive-but-less-than-original singer/songwriter. The appropriate response is not the warm embrace of acceptance, but the business end of a nightstick.

What am I getting at? Romantic comedies are sick and awful things with all the sadism of Saw XV. The clichés and standard practices of this genre are really pathologies painted over with pretty colors. They express not the best of us, but the worst things we are capable of when we have sufficiently screwed up a once-functional romantic endeavor.

When torn asunder by the horrible realization of our failures in love, we are able to cast shame and prudence aside in favor of last-ditch efforts which can only be described as creepily zany. The only difference between the plot of the typical romantic comedy and the foundation of a well-deserved restraining order is that, in movie form, these insane plans to recapture a lost love actually WORK.

At any rate, the next time you see Sandra Bullock and Matthew Mcconaughey locked in an embrace after some absurdly successful scheme, think really hard if you want to be in their position, that is, being stalked and abused.