Thursday, December 19, 2013

On Part-Delusions

Gwen: 'This Dr. Reed is bad news.' 

Mindy: 'No, he has a good heart. I think he's like Hugh Grant in About a Boy.' 

Gwen: 'He's like Hugh Grant in real life.'  -  The Mindy Project  


Someone once told me "I want you forever. Not everyday, but forever." I thought it was romantic at the time. At least, it was a huge leap from the previous one who couldn’t see our relationship even a few hours into the future. Also, pop culture – and by that I mean Katherine Heigl and Jennifer Aniston movies – had rewired my brain to be suspicious of men who said all the right things. So yes, I was a sucker for blunt deliveries. I found the honesty, charming. 

See, romantic-comedy, as a genre, has been glorifying the "real" man for way too long. The emotionally-stunted guy who eventually confronts his feelings and comes around, but only after putting our adorable heroine through the worst (The Switch, Sex and the City, Jerry Maguire, Made of Honour); the guy who is always acting like a jerk but it's only because his wife died or cheated on him and left him cold and dead inside. We are then led to believe that there is this good, almost caring-too-much guy lurking just beneath the surface and all our heroine has to do is scratch that surface and set him free (The Ugly Truth, Life as we know it, About a Boy, 27 Dresses). Needless to say, this does not happen in real life. Commitment phobes are often better left alone and the guy (or girl) who acts like a jerk is really just a jerk.

I know some smartass will say 'But you're not supposed to take romantic-comedy so seriously.' Yes, I get that. But since you're feeding me lies anyway, the least you can do is feed me a complete lie. See, my all-time favorite fictional men are Henry (who is a time-traveler from The Time Traveler's Wife), Darcy (19th century), Leopold (of Kate and Leopold, who is a Duke who time-traveled from the 1800s) and my current big time TV love, Elijah Michaelson (who is a 1000 year old vampire from The Originals and The Vampire Diaries). Now you see what all these men have in common? They are entirely fictional. Which means, there is no risk of me sitting here waiting for a vampire or a time-traveler to show up and declare his undying love for me. These men simply give me a rush of blood to the head every once in a while, simply by existing in a parallel universe. And I have no trouble going back to my ordinary 21st century existence and rolling eyes at the ordinary 21st century men and their fashionable pop-psych issues.

But when you take the concept of eternal love with a gorgeous man who will adore me everyday and who'd much rather DIE than not be with me, and then you water it down to a story about a girl who finds her perfect someone in a commitment phobe or a self-serving jerk who changes in the end, you are on dangerous ground. Because you are now feeding a delusive idea that is much bigger and infinitely more toxic than the one that existed before. 'Cause here's a fun fact: vampires and time-traveling dukes do not exist but emotional halfwits are EVERYWHERE.

Besides, what's up with this need to make everything "real?" I don't know about you, but I can only enjoy my reality when it's balanced out by an alternate reality. I'm not using the word delusion because it's all in the way you see it. I mean, isn't fiction meant to be a kind of escape? And if we can't even aspire for perfection in fiction, I shudder to imagine our real world standards. So, yes. It's the part-delusion you need to watch out for. A complete delusion won't hurt you.

And it might have kept Mark Darcy alive. Yeah, Helen Fielding killed Mark Darcy in Bridget Jones 3. I haven't read the book so I don't know the cause of death. I suspect it was "real" writing.

1 comment:

  1. Umm was just about to lurk n go away, but now I must comment. Love your blog :)

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